New Areas of Emphasis!  Effective Fall 2017!

Course requirements for a geography degree move students through a core curriculum and expose them to foundational perspectives in human geography, physical geography and geographic methods. From there, students are encouraged to pursue, with the consultation of an advisor, up to two of the following emphasis areas (click on each title to display a requirement list):

  • Climate Change & Landscape Dynamics: This emphasis focuses on the Earth system, its processes, and the impacts of these processes on the environment. Students can choose electives that allow them to specialize in one or more of the following areas: climate, biogeography, geomorphology, and hydrology/cryogeography. Recent and future changes in the Earth's climate represent one of the greatest challenges for modern society, and courses in this emphasis cover the climate system, climate change, and impacts of climate change on the environment and society. Courses on biogeography provide expertise on the global patterns of life, and geomorphology allows students to gain an understanding of the processes that shape the landscapes that surround us. Water is a regionally and globally important resource, and the cryosphere represents the environments that are most vulnerable to climate change.

  • Geographic Information Science (GIS): This emphasis combines theories of how geographic information is used to represent real-world phenomena with methods for applying this information to 21st century social-environmental problems. Geotechnology is a rapidly advancing field that has been placed alongside biotech and nanotech as one of the fastest growing employment areas in the coming decades.  Students who complete this major also complete all the requirements for the undergraduate Applied GIS CertificateStudents who want to also get the certificate must still fill out a Certificate Completion Form in the Geography Main Office in their last semester to receive the certificate.

  • Population, Development, & Sustainability:  This emphasis focuses on sustainable population growth and urban systems. Students can choose electives that allow them to specialize in either Urban or Sustainable Development areas. The United Nations has projected that by 2050 the world’s population will be 9.7 billion. Because of employment and access to social resources, including medical assistance and educational opportunities, much of this population growth will occur in urban areas.  These urban areas vary in their stages of development, and environmental impacts, such as climate change threaten to decrease the livability of already established urban areas. At the fringes of many major cities around the world, informal settlements already house impoverished people of all ages. A lack of sustainable development in the future will lead to further poverty, disease, and death. The courses in this emphasis cover concerns of population growth: cities, transportation, politics, health, energy, environment, and economics. Upon completion, students will understand today’s major issues with population growth globally and best practices to alleviate much of the burden of future growth.

  • Hazards, Resilience, & Human Security: This emphasis focuses on human security from natural and anthropogenic hazards, and building resiliencies on local, regional, and global scales. Students can choose electives that allow them to specialize in either Hazards or Environmental Management and Policy areas. There are many uncertainties in the world today that put populations at risk including climate change, global terrorism, pollution, and contagious disease. Not planning and mitigating for these hazards can cause catastrophic human and environmental damages. This emphasis explores hazards, policies, and management in the context of human security. The courses in this emphasis cover topics of natural hazards, health and disease, terrorism, crime and climate change. Upon completion, students will have knowledge of many hazards and human vulnerabilities, as well as related policies and resiliencies constructed to increase human security.

  • Remote Sensing of the Environment:  Remote sensing relies on measurements of electromagnetic radiation to monitor the Earth and its environmental systems using satellites, aircraft, sensor networks and UAVs.  This emphasis allows students to get in-depth, valuable knowledge on how remote sensing data are collected, processed, and used for a multitude of applications.  Remote sensing skills are increasingly sought after in a variety of disciplines, and by many employers in environmental and intelligence fields.

**For students that were already declared in one of the previous emphases (Climate Change; Global Development, Population, & Sustainability; Urban Systems, Location, & Resilience; Ecology & Biogeography; Geomorphology & Hydrology; and Hazards, Resources, & Human Security), you are grandfathered into your original emphasis(es) from Catalog Year 2016-2017 and must graduate within 3 years with original emphasis(es).  If you have questions, would like a requirements handout on your declared emphasis, or would like to switch to one of the new emphases: book an advising appointment by clicking the "Book Now" bubble on the Home page.