Chair: D. Monk
The discipline of geography bridges perspectives in the social and natural sciences. In addition to deepening knowledge of biophysical and social change processes in their own right, diverse methodological approaches uncover the relationships between humans and natural and social environments. Students are exposed to the full spectrum of disciplinary subfields—physical, human, and nature-society geography as well as geographical techniques. They use integrative explanatory frameworks to grapple with critical areas of inquiry: the geopolitics of conflict, climate science, biogeographies of endangered species, public health, urban planning, disaster mitigation, international development, environmental and social justice, and natural resource management, among them. In exploring these themes, geography students move beyond passive knowledge consumption and toward the production of knowledge, applying their skills and perspectives through collaborative work with faculty, fellow students, and members of the wider community. Each of the introductory courses offered by the Department of Geography addresses aspects of these themes. Descriptions of introductory courses can be found in the University Catalogue, or for courses available to first-years in the fall, refer to the bottom of this page.
The major provides a good foundation for graduate work or future employment in both the private and public sectors. Recent graduates have pursued graduate study and/or careers in geography, environmental science, alternative energy resources, population studies, international development, public health, public policy, urban planning, architecture, forestry, meteorology, environmental law, land-use planning, and an array of business applications.
Human-induced climate change — global warming — is the defining environmental and social issue of our times. That people are dramatically altering the climate is now the resounding consensus in the scientific community. Potential short- and long-term impacts include biodiversity loss, sea-level rise and coastal flooding, more intense storms, threats to human health, and disruptions of freshwater supplies and food security. But while the global community increasingly understands the basic processes driving climate change, and is starting to appreciate the consequences of a warmer world, the coupled social and biophysical dynamics of global warming are complex and the issue remains controversial. This course explores climate-society relationships in industrial and pre-industrial periods, and considers the multifaceted natural and human dimensions of global warming. It also highlights the integrative natural and social science modes of analysis commonly used in the discipline of geography.
"End of the world" scenarios have been linked to global pandemics, super-volcanoes, artificial intelligence, and melting permafrost. "Is the Planet Doomed" uses these and other examples to study contemporary catastrophism. The course explores arguments that suggest the world may have reached "peak humanity." Potential mass extinction events arise from the convergence of biological, climatic, economic, technological factors on one hand, and war on the other. The course analyzes these factors using the integrative modes of analysis commonly used in the discipline of geography. And it exposes how geography affects the catastrophic imaginary.