Department of Geography and Planning
Christopher J. Smith, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Distinguished Service Professor
John S. Pipkin, Ph.D. (Collins Fellow)
Ray Bromley, Ph.D.
Youqin Huang, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Andrei Lapenas, Ph.D.
State Hydrological Institute, Saint Petersburg
Catherine T. Lawson, Ph.D. (Department Chair)
Portland State University
David A. Lewis, Ph.D.
James E. Mower, Ph.D.
State University of New York at Buffalo
Carlos J.L. Balsas, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts
Alexander Buyantuev, Ph.D.
Arizona State University
Shiguo Jiang, Ph.D.
Ohio State University
Rui Li, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University
Thomas P. Narins, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Adjuncts (estimated): 12
Teaching Assistants (estimated): 2.5
The Department of Geography and Planning offers programs leading to the B.A., M.A., and M.R.P. degrees, a combined B.A./M.A. program, and an Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis. Undergraduate students can major or minor in Geography. The department also offers a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning, a minor in Urban Studies and Planning, a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a faculty-initiated concentration Globalization Studies, and a minor in Globalization Studies. Geographers study the characteristics of space, location and place in the broader context of how people interact with both physical and human environments. Geography can be classified as both a natural science and a social science as it examines people and their environment and serves as a bridge between the physical and cultural worlds. Planning is a discipline and professional practice that deals with the form, organization, and orderly development of cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Geographic information systems (GIS), computer mapping, remote sensing, and related technologies are central to the discipline of geography and are indispensable in many areas of professional planning practice. Globalization Studies, the newest offering of the department, analyzes the growing integration of the world system through trade, migration, financial flows and telecommunications, the impact of human activity on the world environment, and the adaptation of local and ethnic identities to the ongoing globalization process.
Teaching and research in the department emphasize urban, social, physical, and cultural geography; historical landscape; city and regional planning; urban design; remote sensing; cartography and geographic information systems; environmental studies; climatology; computer and statistical models; area (regional) studies; urban and regional planning methods; economic development; small town and rural land-use planning. Members of the faculty have strong international links with China, Russia, Australia, and various countries in Africa, Latin America and Western Europe.
The undergraduate programs provide background suitable for entry into a wide variety of business, educational and government occupations, as well for graduate or professional study in geography, planning, business, public administration, forestry, landscape architecture and other environmentally oriented programs. Career possibilities include: cartographers, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (G.I.S.) specialists; location and market area analysts; urban, regional, economic, and transportation planners; environmental scientists; international development specialists; urban design professionals; industrial and real estate developers; soil scientists; marketing and distribution managers; journalists; and travel and recreation specialists.
Degree Requirements for the Major in Geography
General Program B.A.: a minimum of 36 credits, including:
Core Courses: 12 credits
- A GOG 101 Introduction to the Physical Environment
- A GOG 102 Introduction to Human Geography
- A GOG 496 (= A USP 456) Geographic Information Systems
- Capstone Experience from A GOG 492 Geography Internship or A GOG 493Z Research Project in Geography
Elective courses: 24 credits
- At least 18 credits at or above 300 level in Geography
- At least one course from each cluster. Elective courses in Geography are offered in the following three clusters:
A GOG 125 (= A USP 125) The American City
A GOG 160 (= A EAC 160) China: People and Places
A GOG 200 Cultural Geography
A GOG 220 (= A USP 220) Introductory Urban Geography
A GOG 225 (= A GLO 225 & A USP 225) World Cities: Geographies of Globalization
T GOG 230 Reform and Resistance in Contemporary China
T GOG 244 Global Population Debates
A GOG 266 (= A GLO 266 & A USP 266) India: Development Debates
A GOG 270 (= A AFS 270) Geography of Africa
A GOG 310 (= A BIO 311 & U UNI 310) World Food Crisis
A GOG 325 (= A GLO/A USP 325) Global Urbanism and Culture
A GOG 344 World Population
A GOG 350 (= A EAC 350) Urban Development in China
A GOG 366 (= A GLO 366) India: Field Study of Development Issues
A GOG 375 (= A USP 375) Methods of Urban Analysis
A GOG 405 Topics in Human Geography
A GOG 440 Political Geography
A GOG 442 Geography of Religion
A GOG 480 (= A USP 480) Advanced Urban Geography
A USP 475 Urban Design
A GOG 201 (= A ENV 201 & A GEO 201) Environmental Analysis
A GOG 304 Climatology
A GOG 330 (= A USP 330) Principles of Environmental Management
A GOG 404 Topics in Physical Geography
A GOG 424 Landscape Ecology
A GOG 430 (= A USP 430) Environmental Planning
A GOG 431 Climate Change
A GOG 433 (= A USP 433) Urban Ecology
A GOG 460 (= A USP 460) People, Place, and Power
Geographic Information Science
A GOG 290 Introduction to Cartography
A GOG 406 Topics in Geographic Information Systems
A GOG 414 Computer Mapping
A GOG 417 Geography Internships (3-6 credits)
A GOG 422 GIS for Social Sciences
A GOG 479 Fundamentals of Applied Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
A GOG 484 Remote Sensing I
A GOG 485 Remote Sensing II
A GOG 498 (= A USP 457) Advanced Geographic Information Systems
The department’s honors program in geography is intended to recognize the academic excellence of its best students, to give them the opportunity to work more closely with the faculty, and to enhance their understanding of geographical theory and research. Students may apply for admission to the program during their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year. To gain admission, students must have formally declared a major in geography and completed at least 12 credits of course work in the department. In addition, at the time of admission students must have an overall grade point average of at least 3.25, and of 3.50 in geography.
Students must complete a minimum of 42 credits as follows:
- All the major requirements listed above, except that the Senior Honors Thesis will satisfy the capstone requirement.
- At least 6 credits should be taken in a cognate field, as advised.
- 6 credits of Senior Honors Thesis, A GOG 499. During this two-semester sequence, the student will prepare an honors thesis based on original research, under the supervision of a member of the department. A written proposal describing the project must be approved by the advisor and the departmental Honors Committee by the beginning of the student’s senior year. The thesis will be submitted for formal evaluation in the spring semester of the student’s senior year, and must be approved by both the advisor and the Honors Committee.
The departmental Honors Committee will review each student’s progress at the end of each semester. Upon completion of all honors program requirements with a grade point average of 3.50 in geography and 3.25 overall, students will be recommended by the Honors Committee for graduation with Honors in Geography, and will be honored at the departmental recognition ceremony in May.
Combined B.A./M.A. Program
The combined B.A./M.A. program in geography provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and master’s degree programs from the beginning of their junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.A. and M.A. degrees within nine semesters.
The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.A., students must meet all university and college requirements, including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minor requirement, the minimum 90 credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, the general education requirements, and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.A., students must meet all university and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience, and residency requirements. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.A. and M.A. programs.
Students may be admitted to the combined degree program at the beginning of their junior year, or after the successful completion of 56 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required for consideration. Students will be admitted upon the recommendation of the Graduate Admissions Committee of the department.
Undergraduate Certificate Program in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis
This certificate program provides undergraduates with professional and technical training in geographic information systems (GIS) and associated techniques of spatial analysis. Geographic information systems are computer-based systems for storage, analysis, and display of spatial data. The disciplines of cartography, remote sensing and computer graphics are closely linked to the study of GIS. In conjunction with GIS, methods of spatial analysis may be used to study a wide range of problems, including resource management, land management for agriculture and forestry, urban planning, land use mapping, market area analysis, urban social analysis and a host of other applications.
The certificate requires 19 credits of undergraduate course work, including A GOG 290, 414, 484, 485, 496, and A MAT 108 (or an approved equivalent).
Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning
The B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning is designed for students interested in a liberal arts education focusing on urban and suburban environments; environmental planning; sustainable development policy and practices; as well as urban, community and neighborhood development. The program of study mixes conventional classes with fieldwork and computer-based learning, and it requires considerable awareness of international, multicultural and policy issues. Students with training in urban studies and planning may enter careers in housing and community development, real estate, local and state government, local economic development, or local planning. They can pursue further study in graduate or professional schools to specialize in city and regional planning, public policy, real estate, architecture, or landscape architecture.
Planning is a broad function of the public and private sectors directed at guiding urban and regional development, analyzing physical, social, economic, and environmental issues, and preparing policy alternatives. Many planners work in the public sector, evaluating problems and suggesting solutions in the domains of transportation, housing, economic and community development, urban design, neighborhood revitalization, environmental issues, and policy analysis. Others work in the private and nonprofit sectors, serving as consultants, researchers, real estate developers, community development promoters, and specialists in local economic development. The department administers an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor program in urban studies and planning, and offers undergraduate courses in planning. These courses provide students with insights on urban and regional development from a broad, liberal arts viewpoint, as well as providing background and tools for further study and the professional practice of planning.
Degree Requirements for the Major in Urban Studies and Planning
General Program B.A.: A minimum of 36 credits including:
- 15 credits (5 core courses) as follows: A USP/A GOG 125, A USP 201, A USP/A GOG 220, A USP/A GOG/A GLO 225; plus one methods course chosen from the following list, or as advised: A GOG 385, A GOG 390, A GOG 414, A GOG 479, A GOG 484, A GOG 485, A USP/A GOG 324, A USP/A GOG 375, A USP 452, A USP 456/ A GOG 496, A USP/A GOG 480.
- 12 credits of elective courses chosen from the following: A EAS/A LCS/A GOG 321, A USP/A GOG/A GLO 266, A USP 315, A USP 320, A USP/A GOG/A WSS 328, A USP/A GOG 330, A USP 420, A USP 425, A USP 426, A USP/A GOG 430, A USP 432, A USP 436, A USP 443, A USP 449, A USP 451, A USP 452, A USP/A GOG 460, A USP 475, A USP/A GOG 480, A USP 485, A USP 497.
- 3 credits of community engagement work chosen from the following: A USP 437, A USP 474, A USP 476, A USP 490, A USP 497.
- 6 credits of cognate coursework: as advised, chosen from upper-division urban-related coursework in departments outside Geography and Planning including but not limited to: Anthropology, Economics, Education, History, Political Science, Public Administration and Policy, Sociology, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Women’s Studies, Environmental Science, and selected courses in the Humanities (including English and Art). A complete list of pre-approved course is available from the Department of Geography and Planning.