Department of Geography and Planning


Distinguished Service Professor
 John S. Pipkin, Ph.D. (Collins Fellow)
  Northwestern University

 Ray Bromley, Ph.D.
  Cambridge University
 Christopher J. Smith, Ph.D. 
  University of Michigan
Associate Professors
 Gene Bunnell, Ph.D.
  London School of Economics
 Youqin Huang, Ph.D.
  University of California, Los Angeles
 Andrei Lapenis, Ph.D.
  State Hydrological Institute, Saint Petersburg
 Catherine T. Lawson, Ph.D. (Department Chair)
  Portland State University
 David A. Lewis, Ph.D.
  Rutgers University
 James E. Mower, Ph.D.
  State University of New York at Buffalo
 Kwadwo A. Sarfoh, Ph.D.
  University of Cincinnati

Assistant Professors
 Corianne P. Scally, Ph.D.
  Rutgers University
 Alexander Buyantuyev, Ph.D.  
  Arizona State University

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 Interdisciplinary Studies with a faculty-initiated concentration 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

  • A GOG 101 and 102.
  • A MAT 108 (or an approved equivalent).
  • A GOG 496.
  • one course from A GOG 290 or 484.
  • 20–21 credits of elective course work in Geography which must include: (a) a minimum of 9 credits at or above the 300 level; and (b) at least one course from the following: A GOG/A EAC 160, A GOG/A GLO 225, A GOG/A LCS 250, A GOG/A GLO 266, A GOG/A AAS 270, A GOG/A EAC 350, A GOG/A LCS 354, A GOG/A ECO 356, A GOG 365, or A GOG 366/A GLO 366.

Honors Program

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 48 credits total of which 42 credits are in geography, as follows:

  • 12 credits from A GOG 101, 102, 396, and 400.
  • 3-4 credits from A GOG 290 and 484.
  • 6 credits of Senior Honors Thesis, A GOG 499. During this two-semester sequence, the student will prepare an honors thesis based on original library and/or field research, under the supervision of a member of the department. Any faculty member knowledgeable in the topic may supervise an honors thesis. A written proposal describing the project must be approved by the adviser 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 adviser and the Honors Committee.
  • 20–21 credits of elective course work in geography which must include a) a minimum of 12 credits at or above the 300 level and b) at least 1 course of a regional nature from the following: A GOG/A EAC 160, A GOG/A GLO 225, A GOG/A LCS 250, A GOG/A GLO 266, A GOG/A AAS 270, A GOG/A EAC 350, A GOG/A LCS 354, A GOG/A ECO 356, A GOG 365, or A GOG 366/A GLO 366.
  • A minimum of 6 credits of foreign language or of an appropriate research skill, such as computing, statistics, or social research methodology as approved by the adviser and the Honors Committee. If this requirement is met using a foreign language, the student must complete one year of college-level study of the language or achieve placement beyond the first year of that language. For a research skill other than a foreign language, the student must complete 6 credits of relevant course work outside the department.

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 for degree candidates 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 Interdisciplinary Studies with a faculty-initiated concentration in Urban Studies and Planning

The Urban Studies and Planning concentration 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.

Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a faculty-initiated concentration in Urban Studies and Planning

General Program B.A.: A minimum of 36 credits including: 

  • 15 credits (5 core courses) as follows: A GOG 125, A GOG 220, A GOG/A GLO 225, A PLN 220; plus one methods course chosen from the following list, or as advised: A GOG 324, A GOG 385, A GOG 390, A GOG 414, A GOG 479, A GOG 480, A GOG 484, A GOG 485, A GOG 498, A PLN/A GOG 375, A PLN 452, A PLN 456/A GOG 496.
  • 12 credits of elective courses chosen from the following: AGOG/A GLO 266, A GOG 321, A PLN 315, A PLN 320, A PLN/A GOG/A WSS 328, A PLN/A GOG 330, A PLN 420, A PLN 425, A PLN 426, A PLN 432, A PLN 430, A PLN 436, A PLN 443, A PLN 449, A PLN 451, A PLN 452, A PLN/A GOG 460, A PLN 475, A PLN/A GOG 480, A PLN 485, A PLN 497.
  • 3 credits of community engagement work chosen from the following: A PLN 437, A PLN 474, A PLN 476, A PLN 490, A PLN 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.