Julie Urbanik is a qualitatively trained geographer interested in how place shapes the ethical relations between humans and animals in all their combinations. To this end, she works as a scholar in the field of animal geographies and consults as an expert witness social geographer in criminal defense mitigation. In all her work, she strives to be a facilitator of curiosity and respect in order to promote reflexive understanding.
She holds a doctorate in geography from Clark University and a master’s degree in gender studies from the University of Arizona. She spent a decade as an award-winning author and educator in higher education geography and environmental studies programs. She has been consulting for criminal defense mitigation since 2016, and has worked on federal, state, capital (death penalty), and non-capital cases. In this capacity, she has pioneered the development of mitigation geonarratives that help link a client’s life experiences with larger social forces.
As a scholar in her specialty area of animal geographies, she has been instrumental in formalizing the disciplinary subfield by co-founding the Animal Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers, publishing the award-winning Placing Animals: An Introduction to the Geography of Human-Animal Relations (Rowman & Littlefield 2012), co-editing the first one-volume encyclopedia for the field of Human-Animal Studies, Humans and Animals: A Geography of Coexistence (ABC-CLIO 2017), and co-editing a special issue of Society & Animals on wildlife conservation (2018) where she served as the Managing Editor for the Political Animals Section.
Her research on the politics of place and human-animal relations has focused on genetically-engineered animals, urban dog parks, animal-assisted therapies, the impact of Covid-19 on urban advocacy groups, and cultural flashpoints such as ‘Hooters for Neuters.’ Her place-based historical research on human-animal relations has focused on Kansas City, Missouri, USA, and resulted in the first animal geography documentary, Kansas City: An American Zoopolis (2015).