The challenges and opportunities that face cities and metropolitan regions are central to the well being of billions of people around the globe. Our program focuses on the themes of globalization, sustainability, and social justice, three areas that increasingly are central to understanding such challenges and opportunities. Faculty expertise spans a diverse array of fields, including global urban development, urban ecology and sustainability, health geography and food systems, critical approaches to nature-society relations, and theory and implementation of geographic information technologies.
Programs of Study
MA in Geography and Urban Studies
The MA degree is designed to prepare students for further graduate study as well as professional positions related to urban and economic development, environmental sustainability and social justice, including local and governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations at the local and international scale, community-based and public interest organizations, and business.
The complexity of human-environment interactions, as well as the interconnectedness of the global economy, culture, and politics, have fueled a resurgence of geographic theory and methods as a framework for analyzing metropolitan and urban conditions. The MA program encourages (although it does not absolutely require) students to develop familiarity with GIS as a research tool. BY bringing together a wide range of geographic data at varying spatial scales for representation and analysis, GIS permits a simultaneous view of the human and environmental dimensions of urbanization.
Our faculty excels at theoretical and applied analysis of metropolitan areas within their broader regional, national, and global contexts, often using the complex Philadelphia metropolitan region as a laboratory. We draw upon our Philadelphia location to provide students with opportunities to engage in public policy and applied urban and environmental research. Students can use our faculty’s linkages with public agencies, educational institutions, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and social movements in our region to deepen their knowledge of urban dynamics.
Culminating exercise in the M.A program:
Masters Research Paper that students produce under the supervision of both a faculty member with expertise in the content area of the paper, and an instructor guiding a class in which the individual students are producing these papers. This is a supervised but independent research experience that enhances the student’s ability to contribute to professional conferences and journals upon graduation.
PhD in Geography and Urban Studies
The complexity and pace of economic, environmental, and social change require that students are trained in interdisciplinary and spatially integrative analytical frameworks and specialized skills to apply to real-world conditions. As an integrative graduate program, the curriculum connects these processes, giving students strong analytical foundation that stresses spatical relations, scale transitions, place and context, and nature societal relations.
The PhD program admits students holding the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in a related social science. To fulfill the degree requirements, students must complete coursework, pass a comprehensive examination, submit a thesis proposal, and then write and defend that thesis.
The program draws upon the interdisciplinary expertise of faculty in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies. Students will engage in research and scholarly activity with scholars who are active in helping to build multiple social science disciplines. In recent years, members of the department have published a half dozen books with leading publishers in the field including Oxford University Press, MIT Press, and Wiley and Routledge; contributed articles to leading journals like the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Environment and Planning A, and the Journal of Urban Affairs, etc., and won competitive grants from the World Bank, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations, the United States Information Agency, The National Science Foundation, the Overseas Development Institute, the Inter-American Foundation, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Economic Development Agency.
Graduates of the program with doctorates in Geography and Urban Studies will be able to compete for faculty positions in a range of academic departments—from departments of geography to more interdisciplinary departments and programs (focused on such fields as urban studies, urban planning, environmental studies, and development studies). They will also be equipped to seek employment outside of academe. Non-governmental organizations, think tanks, research institutes, service delivery institutions, international development and economic development organizations, increasingly conduct independent research and employ graduate degree holders in interdisciplinary areas like urban studies and environmental studies.
We encourage students to apply their skills and knowledge in a credit-bearing internship that utilizes their academic training. Assignments at planning, social service and other agencies, as well as firms that specialize in mapping and geographic data analysis, have helped students secure employment. The internship is complemented by a seminar in which students discuss their experiences. See the Internship Coordinator of this department, Dr. Max Andrucki (email@example.com) for more details and for information on possible internship sites. Another resource for internships is the College of Liberal Arts Center for Internships and Career Development. Contact Dr. Michael Szekely (Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.