The discipline of geography traditionally encompasses the study of spatial patterns in both the natural and cultural environment. The dynamic and interdisciplinary character of the field is becoming increasingly relevant for a range of societal and environmental problems, including those related to urban and suburban economic development, poverty and crime, human health, water resources and water quality, land and soil resources, biodiversity, habitat loss and climate change. The department’s name, Geography and Environmental Systems, highlights the importance of interactions between natural environmental systems and social, political and economic systems. A rigorous background including courses in the natural sciences, mathematics and social sciences is also essential to the development of analytical skills and is, therefore, a required element of our degree programs.
The undergraduate curriculum and the research agenda of the department’s faculty provide multiple opportunities for students to acquire both breadth and depth in their training and to engage in the study of problems whose importance is becoming more and more evident. For students interested in environmental problems, natural resources and environmental conservation, a study of the impact of human activities on environmental systems includes elements of both physical and human geography. Physical geography investigates such matters as the development of landforms; patterns of climate, soils and vegetation; and interactions among these features of the physical environment. Human geography examines topics including the distribution of economic development, transportation, crime and urbanization; political, cultural and social geography; and spatial distributions of disease and health care.
Techniques and tools of spatial analysis that are widely used by geographers include cartography, remote sensing and geographic information systems, all of which involve extensive application of computer technology. The department’s program is designed to prepare students for any of three principal post-graduation activities: graduate school, a career in business or government, or a career in education.
The department offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees; majors are expected to complete the prescribed number of credits of course work within the department, as well as work in complementary disciplines. In addition, students in their junior and senior years are encouraged to gain practical experience through internships.
The department is home to a new degree program, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and is the administrative home for a campus-wide interdisciplinary degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. The department also offers minor programs in geography and in environmental geography and certificate programs in cartography and in geographic information science applications that are available to both majors and non-majors.
For official curriculum for this major, please visit the online undergraduate catalog. This site is your one-stop location for academic policies, major requirements, academic support services, and the first year experience.
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