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Geography and Environmental Systems

Career and Academic Paths | Academic Advising | Major Programs | Minor Program | Departmental Honors | Departmental Certificate | Evening Option | Special Opportunities |

Faculty

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Chair

Eugene P. Parker

Associate Professors

Erie Ellis
Jeffrey B. Halverson
Andrew Miller
Christopher M. Swan

Clinical Associate Professor

Sari J. Bennett

Assistant Professors

Mathew Baker
Dawn Biehler
David Lansing
Laura Lewis
Robert Neff
Junmei Tang

Senior Lecturer

Thomas D. Rabenhorst

Associate Staff

Joseph School

Adjunct Faculty

Scott Jeffrey
Michael R. Ratcliffe

Affiliate Assistant Professors [JCET]

Mark Bulmer
Petya Entcheva Campbell
Karl Fred Huemmrich
Ali Tokay

Affiliate Research Faculty

Peter Groffman
Steward T. A. Pickett
Richard V. Pouyat

Professor Emerius

Roger N. Dubois
Robert J. Earickson
Keith Harries

Courses in this program are listed under GES.

For updated and current information, visit our department Web site: http://www.umbc.edu/ges.


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 offers two additional degree programs, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. For more information specific to those degrees, see Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. The department also offers minor programs in Geography and in Environmental Science and certificate programs in geographic information science (GIScience) that are available to both majors and non-majors.

Major Programs

The department offers two major programs, a bachelor of arts (B.A.) and a bachelor of science (B.S.). The B.A. requires a minimum of 48 credits, including 44 credits in geography and environmental systems courses.

Both degree programs require all students to complete the following 14 credits of core courses:

  • GES 102 Human Geography
  • GES 110 Physical Geography
  • GES 286 Exploring the Environment: A Geo-Spatial Perspective
  • GES 386 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems



BACHELOR OF ARTS (B.A.) IN GEOGRAPHY

In addition to the core courses identified above, a minimum of 30 additional credits in other departmental electives is required. Distribution requirements are as follows:

Four human geography courses, chosen from the sequences GES 320-369, 420-469 and sections of selected topics courses (GES 302 or 400) that are designated by department faculty as meeting the distribution requirement. At least one of these four courses must be at the 400 level.


Two upper-division physical geography electives chosen from the following sequences:

GES 305-319, 405-419 or sections of special topics courses (GES 302 or 400) designated by department faculty as meeting the distribution requirement

Four additional GES electives, three of the courses must be at the 300 level or above, and at least one of which must be a 400-level course.

Internship and independent study do not count toward the minimum number of credits required for the B.A. degree.

All students, upon declaring the geography major, will be expected to take GES 286 and a statistics course the first semester each course is offered, following satisfaction of any prerequisites.

Other courses

All students must complete an outside statistics course to be selected from among the following:

  • STAT 121, 350, 351 or 355.
  • For GFR students a 300 level writing or a WI course is required.
    (Note: all GEP students are required to take a WI course).

No course in which the student has earned a grade lower than C; shall count toward the major requirements. No course taken on a P/F basis shall count toward the major.

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (B.S.) IN GEOGRAPHY

In addition to the core courses identified above, a minimum of 27 additional credits in other departmental electives is required.

Distribution requirements for these are as follows:
  • Four physical geography/ environmental science courses, chosen from the sequences:
  • GES 111 or GES 120, GES 305-319, 405-419 and sections of selected topics courses (GES 302 or 400) that are designated by department faculty as meeting the distribution requirement.

At least one of these four courses must be a 400-level course; no more than one of the four may be a 100-level course.

Note: Either GES 111: Principles of Geology OR GES 120: Environmental Science and Conservation may be taken for credit toward the degree requirements, but not both.

PLUS Two upper-division human geography electives chosen from the following sequences:

  • GES 320-369, 420-469
    OR
  • sections of special topics courses (GES 302 or 400) designated by department faculty as meeting the distribution requirement.

PLUS three additional electives at the 300 or 400 level, at least one of which must be a 400-level course.

Internship and independent study do not count toward the 41 credits within the department that are required for the B.S. degree.


Other courses

Six courses representing a minimum of 22 creditsin mathematics and natural sciences, to be selected in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor, as follows:

  • MATH 151
  • and STAT 350, 351 OR 355


Two of the following:

  • BIOL 100
  • CHEM 101
  • PHYS 111
    OR
  • PHYS 121

One additional course to complete a year of study in either biology, chemistry, physics, or math and statistics, to be selected from the following list:
  • BIOL 301
  • CHEM 102
  • PHYS 112 OR 122
  • MATH 152, 221 OR 225
  • STAT 414

Note: GES 308 (Ecology) may be substituted for BIOL 301.

One additional elective from the above list, or a computer programming course, or another math / science course with approval of advisor.

A grade of C; or better is required in each course needed to fulfill the B.S. requirements. No course taken on a P/F basis shall count toward the major.