As U.S. Ambassador to Austria I am delighted to introduce "California: Sierra Nevada and Neighboring Regions. Log Report of a Field Trip" to readers of "inngeo" and, hopefully, a wider academic readership as well. This ambitious project involving 17 students and 2 staff of the Department of Geography at the University of Innsbruck, who studied the area during a 3-week field trip in the fall of 1998, was yet another demonstration of the long-standing academic cross fertilization between the University of Innsbruck and U.S. academic institutions.
As a native Californian I am particularly pleased that the Innsbruck Department of Geography's regional studies curriculum continues to develop its nearly 10-year old focus on the American West, with California as an important aspect of the institute's academic interest. While scores of America-loving Austrians have experienced the multi-faceted, captivating regions of the American West as tourists, the Innsbruck geography students and staff clearly went far beyond the tourist vista. Their analyses of the region's physio-geographic, demographic, economic, social, and political facts have produced a unique and academically ambitious volume for which they are to be commended.
I am also pleased that the State Department was able to assist in the preparation of the field trip by offering some financial and organizational support to the excursion leaders under the U.S. Information Agency's Voluntary Visitor Program.
I trust that the professional and personal insights into American culture and thinking which the future pedagogues gained from this field trip through my country will help sharpen their views about America, ultimately benefiting U.S.-Austrian relations. I therefore take great pleasure in inviting you also to share the experiences so vividly portrayed in "California: Sierra Nevada and Neighboring Regions."
Vienna, July 1999