Geography & Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Why choose Geography & GIS as a course of study?

Our Geography & GIS program prepares students with the foundational knowledge and practical skills to understand, map, and solve the pressing environmental and social challenges that humanity faces.  Within this program, students can choose from one of three major concentrations or a minor in Geographic Information Systems and Technology (GIST).  All majors and minors prepare students for both graduate school and the workforce.

Geography and Geographic Information Systems B.A., with Geography Concentration

Geography is the study of the Earth’s physical features, human activity, and their interactions with one another.   The Geography concentration provides students with an opportunity to specialize in human and physical geography.  Human Geography focuses on the social and spatial effects of the growth of cities, including issues such as the historical evolution of urban form and function, land-use changes and conflicts, economic restructuring, the growth and decline of inner cities, and urban racial and ethnic relations. Physical Geography focuses on major environmental systems including the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.  Particular emphasis is placed on the human modification of the natural environment and the global interconnections of the major earth systems.  The geography concentration is ideal for students that want to explore human-environment interactions, specialize in physical geography, or complete more advanced studies of human geography.  Upper-level electives include courses on natural hazards, environmental hydrology, climate change, economic geography, geography of Europe, water resources, political geography, and many others. 

Geography and Geographic Information Systems B.A., with GIS Concentration

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system that captures, stores, displays, and facilitates the analysis and modelling of data related to the Earth’s surface.  The GIS concentration provides students with an opportunity to foundational knowledge and develop skills in geographic information systems and technology.  Students complete core coursework in GIS, mapping and geovisualization, remote sensing, and spatial analysis and modelling.  Students also take elective coursework that allows them to apply those tools to practical problems in medical geography, transportation geography, sustainability, and ecology.  GIS graduates are well prepared for careers in government, industry, consulting, and more.

Geography and Geographic Information Systems B.A., with Society and Environment Concentration

The Society and Environment concentration focuses on human modifications of the natural environment, human-environment interactions, and global connections of the major Earth and societal systems.  Students pursue core coursework in environmental geography, sustainability, and policy and study the linkages between nature and society.  Students also complete upper coursework on natural hazards, environmental hydrology, water resources management, coastal environments, climate change, and so forth.  The Society and Environment concentration is ideal for students who wish to pursue careers focused at the intersection of societal and environmental issues.

Geographic Information Systems and Technology Minor

Geographic information systems (GIS) and related spatial technologies enable us to acquire, archive, analyze, and communicate information regarding people, places, and other processes on or near the Earth’s surface.   The mission of the minor in the GIST program is provide students: (1) Broad understanding of the fundamental theories and concepts underlying geographic information science, (2) Hands-on experience with contemporary GIS, remote sensing, and  global positioning systems hardware and software, and (3) Practical skills with the application of geospatial analysis to contemporary problems in environmental management, urban planning, business management, disease and health management, crime analysis, and other fields.  Students complete courses in mapping and geovisualization, research methods, GIS, and remote sensing.  Students also choose an elective course that includes a GIS or field component.  The GIST minor is particularly popular with Geology and Environmental Science & Policy majors who wish to add GIS skills to their repertoire.