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Focus Areas

In both of the department’s majors –Geography and Urban Studies and Environmental Studies – students are encouraged to take a broad range of courses from across the discipline of geography and fields of urban and environmental studies.

We encourage our students to acquire a second language and work closely to help them incorporate a semester abroad into their plan of study. Within this department, you may select courses in four general areas: Social JusticeGlobalizationSustainability, and Geographic Methods , described below with associated courses. In either major, it is possible to incorporate courses from other departments. For more information on courses in both majors, see the Undergraduate Courses page or the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Globalization

We are interested in studying the diverse processes that constitute globalization and its impacts on urban conditions and people’s daily lives in cities in both US and international contexts. Our interest is in the urban and regional dimensions of these changes: in labor markets, labor flows, immigration, and welfare state restructuring; identity, culture, and concepts of citizenship; and social and cultural processes in domestic and international settings.

Social Justice

We are interested in how globalization affects local and regional development and how it contributes to changing economic, social, and environmental inequalities both between and within places, with different populations having different life chances depending on their social and geographic location. Our research focuses on the intersection of place and inequality (including gender, race/ethnicity and economic inequalities) both within and between US and international contexts, individual and collective action for equity, and the actors and the process of policy making at multiple scales.

Sustainability

Sustainability invokes questions across a multitude of spatial scales and is deeply interrelated with the department’s social justice, globalization, and geographic methods themes. Our work focuses on local quality-of-life and justice issues within larger political, social, and economic contexts. Current themes include urban food systems, sprawled development patterns, land use/land cover analysis, urban ecology, environmental justice, public health outcomes, and comparative dimensions of environmental sustainability at the national and global scales. Many students interested in sustainability pursue a major in Environmental Studies (ES), or double major in ES and GUS.

Geographic Methods

Among the most important new methods of the last two decades is geographical analysis. Departmental research addresses a wide range of quantitative, qualitative and representational approaches, relying heavily on spatial analytics and information technologies, including GIS and environmental remote sensing. Many of our research projects also incorporate qualitative methods, community-based research, and policy analysis.