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Dr. Kenneth Hewitt (1937- ) is Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. Born in Wales in 1937, Dr. Hewitt served in the Royal Artillery from 1955-1957 before teaching for a year at the Outward Bound Sea School in Aberdovey, Wales. He then received his BA and MA in Geography at the University of Cambridge in 1961 and 1963 respectively, and his PhD in Geomorphology at the University of London in 1967. As a graduate student, Dr. Hewitt taught geography courses at the City of London College and the Sidney Webb College of Education.
After completing his PhD, Dr. Hewitt became a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Lecturer of Geography at the University of Toronto, where he would become an Associate Professor of Geography at University of Toronto’s Institute of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. He left the University of Toronto in 1973 to become Professor of Human Ecology and Chairman of the Environmental Studies program at Rutgers University’s George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1976, Dr. Hewitt returned to Canada where he accepted a teaching position in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Geography Department, where he would remain until his retirement in 2002. Throughout his career, Dr. Hewitt wrote dozens of articles and chapters, and published multiple books, including The Hazardousness of a Place: A Regional Ecology of Damaging Events (1971), Glaciers of the Karakoram Himalaya: Glacial Environments, Processes, Hazards and Resources (Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research) (2013), Landscapes of Transition: Landform Assemblages and Transformations in Cold Regions (GeoJournal Library) (2013), and Regions of Risk: A Geographical Introduction to Disasters (Themes In Resource Management) (2014).
In 1988, he was a founding member of Laurier’s Cold Regions Research Centre. Dr. Hewitt was also involved with many committees and projects. He was the director of the Centre for Hazards and Development Research (WLU) from 1985-1987, the principle investigator of the Snow and Ice Hydrology Project in the Himalayas from 1985-1988, a guest professor at the Geographisches Institut, University of Köln from 1992-1993, and a research fellow at the International Landslide Centre and Department of Geography at the University of Durham in 2005. He also served as a consultant for the Commonwealth Science Council’s Disaster Management Committee (1988-1989), B.C. Hydro International (1991), the Tri-Lateral Workshop on Natural Hazards (1995), and the UN Consultative Workshop for NGOs on the Mountain Agenda (1995).
Dr. Hewitt’s areas of specialization include social geography and human ecology, including the study of vulnerability and gender responses to environmental risks/disasters and armed violence; rockslides, glacier fluctuations, and the regional geomorphology of high mountain environments, especially the Karakoram Himalaya; as well as landslide processes on the Niagara Escarpment in Southwestern Ontario. Dr. Hewitt received the Award for Scholarly Distinction in Geography granted by the Canadian Association of Geographers in 1991.