Geography Courses

Gog 500 Introduction to Graduate Study in Geography (3)

This course provides an introduction to the historical context and contemporary significance of key ideas in geography. Prerequisite: Graduate major in Geography or Regional Planning or permission of instructor.

Gog 502 (Pln 504) Statistical Methods (3)

Geographical applications of quantitative and statistical methods, including spatial data sources, interaction models, parameter estimation, and simple and multiple regression analysis.

Gog 504 (Pln 538) Energy, Environment, and Climate Change (3)

In this course we will study connections between energy use and global climate change. We will start with review of basic science concepts as well as specific, contemporary applications in energy production and their environmental consequences. Energy, Environment, and Climate is structured on the premise that climate change is the dominant energy-related environmental issue of the twenty-first century. Traditional concerns like pollution and conservation of energy resources are covered with clear, scientific explanations.

Gog 506 Introduction to Environmental Studies (3)

Do you want to understand more about current environmental issues such as environmental degradation, human population explosion, energy crisis, global climate change, and ozone depletion? This class provides the underlying scientific facts, challenges, conflicts, and solutions. Since the beginning of industrialization, human activities have tremendously impacted the environment to the point where environmental degradation and exploitation are now affecting human health, quality of life and long term survival of the human race. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in geography or biology or permission of instructor.

Gog 507 Biogeography (3)

The study of the distribution of organisms and adaptations to their environments, both in the past and present. This includes studies of all patterns of geographic variation in nature in species diversity and species distribution.  Prerequisites: Gog 101, Bio 102, or Env 105 or equivalent.

Gog 514 (Eng 514, His 514) The United States: An Interdisciplinary Approach (4)

An introductory review of the history, geography and cultures of the United States, with field trips and special projects on the U.S. Northeast.  Designed for international students with an in-depth knowledge of their home countries, but with little experience of the United States, this interdisciplinary course integrates the perspectives of the social sciences and the humanities to analyze major themes and issues.  It shows how  these  themes  and issues relate to the unique history of the United States – the first nation to gain lasting freedom from European colonialism, a country mainly populated by descendents of immigrants, and for about a century, the world’s largest economy.  In addition to their coursework and assignments, students will be required to do a research project on a course topic of their own choice.

Gog 518 (Bio 518, Inf 508) Ecological Modeling (3)

This course introduces various theoretical and mathematical approaches to modeling ecological and environmental data through computer-based exercises in the application of existing models and the development of new models. Modeling topics cover animal population models, vegetation models, and large scale landscape models, as well as model applications in decision making. This course is geared towards demystifying models and providing students with the confidence and skills to apply this very useful tool to research projects. Prerequisites: Statistics and either General Ecology, Environmental Analysis, Environmental Studies or equivalent or permission of instructor.

Gog 519 (Geo 519) Physical Environment of Cold Regions (3)

Introduction to high-altitude and high-latitude environments, particularly those in which glaciers, permafrost, and periglacial geomorphic features are important. Topics include the properties of snow, ice, and other earth materials, the ground thermal regime, landforms of cold regions, and environmental protection. Prerequisite: Gog/Geo 317 (Geomorphology).

Gog 521 (Pln 501) Planning History and Philosophy (3)

Examines the basic concepts and theories of urban and regional planning in the United States through an historical survey of the origins of the subject, the development of planning thought, the ideas and careers of the principal thinkers, and the relationships between business, government and residential communities.

Gog 522 GIS for Social Sciences (3)

The objective of this course is to apply GIS techniques on social sciences. Specific goals are: (1) to provide students with an understanding of how GIS can be applied in social sciences; (2) to familiarize students with advanced GIS and modeling techniques; (3) to provide students with hands-on experience in working with various data sources through a project related to their own research interest. Applications spread from typical themes in urban and regional analysis (e.g., trade area analysis, regional growth patterns, urban land use and transportation) to issues related to crime and health analyses. It also covers common tasks (e.g., distance and travel time estimation, spatial smoothing and interpolation, accessibility measures) and major issues (e.g., modifiable areal unit problem, rate estimate of rare events in small population, spatial autocorrelation) that are encountered in spatial analysis. Computer exercises with ArcGIS and R are designed to help students gain hands-on experience on the topics presented in lectures. Students are required to present and discuss assigned readings and develop an individual research project that applies geospatial methods in geographical problem solving. Prerequisites: GOG496/PLN456, or equivalent. Students should have some basic GIS and statistical knowledge equivalent to one introductory GIS course and one elementary statistical course.

Gog 524 Landscape Ecology (3)

Landscape ecology is a highly interdisciplinary field, which has its roots in geography and ecology, and has direct relevance to landscape planning and architecture. It deals explicitly with interactions between spatial pattern and ecological processes, including various human influences. This introduction course covers the basic concepts, principles, and methods of landscape ecology, as well as its important applications in nature conservation, resource management, and landscape design and planning. Prerequisites: A general ecology-focused course at the college level or permission of instructor.

Gog 525 Remote Sensing Applications (3)

This course focuses on state-of-the-art techniques and methods for estimating land surface information from remote sensing observations. The specific topics cover a wide range of advanced remote sensing algorithms for extracting vegetation biophysical variables, estimating land surface hydrological variables, and mapping land-cover and land-use changes. Students are required to present and discuss assigned weekly readings and complete an individual research project. Prerequisites: GOG502 (or ATM315) and GOG484 (or ATM335), or equivalent, i.e., basic remote sensing and statistical knowledge equivalent to one introductory remote sensing course and one elementary statistical course.

Gog 526 (Pln 502) Urban and Metropolitan Structure and Functions (3)

Examines the economic, political, social and physical  attributes of American cities, suburbs, and metropolitan regions.  Identifies past and future roles of public policy and planning in creating and solving urban and metropolitan-wide problems.  Topics include:  urban decline and development, urban design, suburbanization and sprawl, infrastructure and environmental quality, class and income polarization, and regional planning programs.

Gog 529 (Bio 534) Spatial Statistics (3)

This course provides an introduction to spatial statistics for spatially referenced data. Spatial point patterns, geostatistical data, and area (regional/lattice) data are studied using the viewpoint that these are realizations from random processes. Major topics to be covered include spatial stochastic process, exploratory spatial data analysis, intensity function, K function, cluster statistics, spatial interpolation, spatial covariance functions, variograms, kriging, spatial autoregressive models, and geographically weighted regression. Computer exercises with R programming language ( are designed to help students gain hands-on experience on the topics presented in lectures. Students are required to present and discuss assigned readings and develop an individual research project that applies spatial statistical methods in geographical problem solving. Prerequisites: GOG502/PLN504 or equivalent. In other words, students should be familiar with basic probability theory, multiple linear regression, and basic linear algebra. 

Gog 530 Selected Topics (1-4)

Selected topics in geography.

Gog 532 (Pln 530) Environmental Planning (3)

Interaction between humans and the natural environment and the inability of natural systems to absorb concentrations of air, water, and land pollutants; the policy and programmatic response of federal, state, and local governments; environmental program planning; the use of controls and incentives to mitigate environmental degradation; and the assessment of the effectiveness of environmental programs.

Gog 533 (Pln 533) Urban Ecology (3)

A major landmark has been crossed in the 21st century when humans became an "urban" species, Homo sapiens "urbanus". Indeed, more than 50% of the world's, and 80 % of the U.S. population now resides in cities. The course addresses problems of understanding urban areas from the ecological viewpoint. Central to this understanding is the recognition that humans are organisms, but ones with unique capabilities of modifying the environment on multiple scales. A crucial concept to be introduced is the distinction between ecology in cities and ecology of cities. The former addresses how organisms (including humans) respond to and influence the physical and biological characteristics of cities. The latter studies the role of cities within broader geophysical and ecological processes such as global biogeochemical cycles, local and regional climates, patterns of biodiversity and organism movements, and ecological and social responses to disturbances. This course will look at both of these aspects through a theoretical lens of modern urban ecology. Urban areas are socio-ecological systems, a mosaic of landscapes, in which humans and their activities are a component of, rather than a disturbance imposed on, (urban) ecological systems. The approach taken in this course will be to facilitate students' learning through a combination of lecture, discussion and practical homework exercises. Prerequisites: A general ecology-focused course at the college level or permission of instructor. 

Gog 534 (Pln 534) Water Resources Planning (3)

To understand water as an increasingly scare and important world resource. Students will learn how water is harnessed and moved, how competing water uses are prioritized, how to prevent source water depletion, how to plan for safe drinking water supplies and how to protect water quality through watershed planning and stormwater management, using New York and U.S. examples. Prerequisites: Pln 505 or permission of instructor.

Gog 535 (Pln 531) Environmental Assessment and Permitting (3)

The purposes of this course are to become familiar with Federal, state and local models for environmental assessment and related permitting, including contradictory topical legal mandates and requirements within a general rubric such as climate change; to understand the various assessment methods that are used to measure environmental impacts; and to comprehend the environmental decision-making process in its many forms, on a comparative basis. The course will provide practical opportunities for students to participate in reviewing, criticizing, and responding to actual environmental impact statements and related environmental permitting applications, as well as using various assessment methods.

Gog 540 Advanced Political Geography (3)

Examines major themes and issues in political geography, including: Territory, identity and the state; localism, regionalsim and separatism; colonialism and decolonization; geopolitics; and internal and international political conflicts. Includes preparation of one or more research papers on case studies.

Gog 542 Geography of Religion (3)

This course provides a detailed examination of the study of religion from the perspectives of human geography, focusing both of geographical insights into religion as a cultural phenomenon and the ways in which the study of religion can provide insights into broader concerns within human geography.  Key topics include the development of religious hearths, processes in the diffusion of religion, the role of place in the diversity within and among religious systems, religious efforts to exert cultural territoriality over secular space, and the meanings and uses of sacred space at various scales.  The course will emphasize particular case studies, as appropriate. 

Gog 547 Development and Underdevelopment (3)

Analytical survey of "Third World" development theories and the development strategies they inspire. Topics covered include traditional concepts of natural and human resources identification and use, geographical diffusion, modernization, and economic growth, as well as challenges to the prevailing ideas and practices such as dependency, sustainable development, and community empowerment.

Gog 555 (Pln 503) Computer Applications in Planning (3)

This course is an introduction to the use of personal computers in planning practice.  It is intended to help students develop skills in spreadsheet, database and communications applications, along with elementary geographic information systems (GIS) and graphics packages.

Gog 564 (Pln 544) Transportation Planning Practicum (3)

Survey of disaggregate travel demand forecasting. Deterministic and probabilistic models of destination and route choice and model split. Temporal aspects of travel decisions. Recent time-budget and activity approaches. Emphasis on policy implications, parametric estimations, and model implementation procedures. Case studies based on Capital District public transportation policy.

Gog 579 Fundamentals of Applied Global Positioning Systems (3)

The course introduces students to fundamentals of Global Positioning System technology as applied to the geosciences.  Topics include background and history, signal structure, resolution, accuracy, data collection techniques, basic geodesy, projections and datums, and applications.  Field work and lab exercises complement lecture material. 

Gog 580 Advanced Urban Geography (3)

Explores some of the theoretical debates and empirical research conducted by geographers and planners interested in the contemporary city. Adopts a political economy approach to the investigation of social problems currently pervasive in the capitalist city including: inner-city poverty and the underclass; homelessness; gender-related issues; racial segregation; and crime.

Gog 584 (Pln 551) Remote Sensing I (3)

Introduction to the concepts and interdisciplinary applications of remote sensing. The basic principles of theory and practice are presented for earth resource management. Photographic and non-photographic sensors are examined. Visual and digital image analysis techniques are introduced. Students will interpret color infrared, multispectral, and other sensor imagery for a variety of purposes.

Gog 585 (Pln 553) Remote Sensing II (3)

Examination of current concepts and research in digital image analysis with emphasis on multispectral and radar data sets. Students will utilize a variety of data sources including optical and digital imagery, maps, census data, ground surveys, and other GIS data layers in completing an interpretation and analysis of selected geoscience aspects of environmental concern. Methods and importance of accuracy assessment are introduced. Prerequisite: Gog 584 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

Gog 590 Advanced Cartography (3)

Maps as information systems with emphasis on data collection, reduction, and symbolization. Error measurement and correction. Introduction to psycho-physical aspects of cartographic presentation. Prerequisite: Gog 390 or consent of instructor.

Gog 593 Topics in Image Analysis (3)

Topics in remote sensing including geographic information systems, digital image analysis, and interpretation. Topics to vary by semester. Can be repeated once for credit.

Gog 595 (Pln 555) Introductory MapInfo (1)

Provides students who have, or are developing, a knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) fundamentals, and who have, or are developing, a knowledge of ArcView software, with a comparable knowledge of MapInfo software.  Enables students to use and apply MapInfo to the solution of a wide range of data management, cartographic and public policy programs.

Gog 596 (Pln 556) Geographic Information Systems (3)

This course will explore the structure, design, and application of geographic information systems. The student will learn how to store efficiently, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, and display large volumes of spatial data derived from various sources. Students will learn information management techniques for a variety of purposes including planning and simulation modeling.

Gog 597 (Pln 557) Advanced GIS (3)

Introduces students to ARC/INFO, a geographic information system (GIS) with extensive analytical and cartographic components. Students will use ARC/INFO to compile and analyze data for selected research projects in Geography and Planning. Major topics include data conversion procedures, registration and rectification of digital data, spatial statistical analysis, and cartographic display. Prerequisites: GOG 496/596/USP 456/PLN 556 or equivalent courses.

Gog 598 (Pln 558) Geographic Information Systems Management (3)

This course provides students with the fundamentals of GIS diffusion theory, organizational theory and management, GIS implementation, spatial data sharing and trends in national data structures. Lectures are complemented by case studies chosen by the student to test ideas discussed in class. Prerequisites: Gog 496, 596, or Pln 556 or equivalent.

Gog 602 (Pln 602) Regional Theories and Techniques (3-4)

Introduces students to the theories of regional development and the tools used by geographers, planners, and other social scientists to measure regional change, forecast future trends, and analyze the regional economy.  The class begins with a review of some classical and contemporary literature on regional development.  With a firm theoretical foundation, the course shifts to developing student competency with a variety of tools including economic base multipliers, shift-share, input-output, cost-benefit analysis, etc. Prerequisite: Pln 502/Gog 526 or Pln 560/Pub560.

Gog 620 Seminar in Urban Geography (3)

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Gog 680 Seminar in Geography (3)

Designed for graduate students who wish to do research in regional or systematic geography. Prerequisites: At least nine credits in geography and consent of instructor.

Gog 685 Seminar in Remote Sensing of the Environment (3)

Study of remote sensing in geographic investigation with emphasis on detailed examination of specific sensor systems. Independent research on a sensor-environment problem is mandatory. Prerequisite: Gog 585 or consent of instructor.

Gog 692 (Pln 656) Seminar in Geographic Information Systems (3)

In-depth study of specialized topics of importance to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In-depth examination of the scientific literature and a substantial research project involving algorithm development and/or modification and/or testing required. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisites: Gog 496/Gog 596/Pln 556 or equivalent, and Gog 414, Gog 590 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

Gog 695 Graduate Internship in Geography (3)

Faculty-directed internship with an appropriate agency, enabling qualified students to gain practical experience relevant to their academic program. Ordinarily the internship is part-time and lasts for one semester under the joint supervision of a faculty sponsor and the agency project director. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. S/U graded.

Gog 697 Independent Study in Geography (1-4)

Directed study and research on selected subjects in geography for the M.A. student. May be repeated once but not for more than a total of 6 credits. Prerequisites: 9 credits in geography and permission of the instructor.

Gog 698 Master's Research Paper in Geography (3)

A substantial original research paper on a geographical topic, written under the supervision of a department faculty member. Prerequisite: At least 15 graduate credits in Geography.

Gog 699 Master's Thesis in Geography (3-6)

Prerequisite: Permission of advisor.