Dean Fairbanks

dean fairbanks


Dean Fairbanks was born in Lompoc, California in 1969 during the floods. His family had long been established in California’s sleepy central coast, never moving from the house he was born in while he attended Lompoc valley public schools. Growing up he worked for his plumbing contractor dad and helped his grandparents in farming.

He studied for his bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of California Santa Barbara, after having discovered the major via his GE physical geography course his sophomore year.  Happy to escape completing an engineering degree he graduated in 1991. Before graduating he had took several motivating courses from Profs. Jack Estes, Frank Davis, and Mike Goodchild, two of which had provided him an internship his senior year.  This got him thinking about graduate school, but not before backpacking Europe for four months.  He was lured back to UCSB and completed a Geography master’s degree in 1993.

The travel bug got him again thus in January1994 he became an expatriate explorer and went off to work at the coal face of environmental management research, sustainable rural development and conservation planning as a research officer for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Division of Water, Environment and Forestry in South Africa. The work conducted during this time was primarily focused on reconstruction and development of South African land systems after their degradation by the political-ecological disaster of the inhumane Apartheid years. Dean was involved in helping sustainably plan the "Rainbow" nation for future prosperity of all its peoples. His work led him to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Pretoria in Ecology under Prof. Albert van Jaarsveld in January 2001. He moved to the University of Cape Town for a postdoc research and teaching assignment, and found himself living in cottage on a wine farm in Jonkershoek valley.

After nearly 10 years abroad he found himself looking to come home.  Chico became home in January 2003, since then Dean worked up to full Professor and now Chair of the department.

CV - Dean Fairbanks

Teaching Summary

I left the world of government research and environmental businesses drive for profits to come teach.  I enjoy university teaching, and when it can be combined successfully with the research I do now, all the better.  I am committed to teaching to all levels of students at Chico State. I like helping undergraduates find direction in their lives.

I currently teach a variety of environmental, technical and cultural geography courses including: GEOG 101 Physical Geography, GEOG 103 Mobile, Wired & Tracked: Our Digital Planet, GEOG 105 California Cultural Landscapes, GEOG 303 Geography of World Affairs, GEOG 411 Geospatial Analysis & Modeling in GIS, GEOG 429 Environmental & Conservation Planning, and GEOG 444 Biogeography and Landscape Ecology.


Research Summary

I have interests in the ecological patterns and processes that control biodiversity and how human interactions change those relationships.  I also have interests in human actions on landscapes and how that affects resource uses and land use changes.  I feel comfortable working with either environmental or socio-economic data as long as it geographically focused.  While I have a strong application of geospatial technologies and statistics, I am equally inspired by qualitative approaches to understanding geography. Understanding of the world should be equally supported by qualitative and quantitative approaches as well as the human imagination.


Service Summary

On campus I have been involved with the tenure process, scholarships, curriculum development, and academic senate.  I currently help by chairing the department.  Of campus I involve myself in service learning projects and I am a board member of the Biodynamic Association of Northern California.