Geography is the science of place, space, and environment. Each place on earth is distinguished by a unique mix of natural resources, cultural practices, and economic and political systems. Geographers study what makes each place unique, and the connections and interactions between places.
With its highly ranked graduate and undergraduate programs, Clark University is one of the best places in the world to study Geography. As an undergraduate student, you will have the opportunity to work with nationally and internationally known faculty to examine why places are different, how those differences shape how we live, and how we in turn shape our environment. The Geography major and minor at Clark are set up in such a way to give the student a broad understanding of physical and human elements that comprise this field of study.
Clark’s School of Geography is the oldest sustained program of geography in the United States. The program is renowned for fostering a culture of innovation that has made it a key site for the development of new topical fields and geographic technologies. Our faculty and students were pioneers in fields as diverse as human-environment, risk-hazards, critical geography, animal geographies and feminist geography. This history of innovation is further reflected in our standing as the only program of geography to have five of its members elected to the National Academy of Sciences and five to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The School has awarded more Ph.D.’s in geography than any other program in the United States. The National Research Council ranked Clark Geography’s doctoral program among the top five US geography programs in 2011. It was the only geography department in the ranking’s top 10 that is located in a liberal arts, student contact intensive research university.
Special facilities available to students include the Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library at the George Perkins Marsh Institute, the Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photograph Library, the Clark Labs for Cartographic Technologies and Geographic Analysis, and Earth System Science teaching and research laboratories in Polar Science, Forest Ecology, and Terrestrial Ecosystem Physiology.
Geographers use the perspectives of place and space to address societal and environmental challenges.
Why are things located where they are? What makes societies and biophysical environments different from place to place? How does location affect access to the things all species need to survive and flourish?
As a geography major, students use the concepts of place and space to better understand the physical and social processes that shape our planet. Students explore why places are different; the economic, political and cultural systems that connect us locally, regionally and globally; and how we shape-and in turn are shaped by-our environment.
Areas of Expertise
Clark’s Geography program is generally and broadly broken down into the following four sub-fields:
- Human Environmental Geography
- Urban Economic Geography
- Earth System Science
- Geographic Information Science
Students will take courses and explore each of these areas throughout their time in the program.
For more information, please visit the Geography Department’s website.
The Clark Advantage
Geography majors, Global Environmental Studies (GES) majors, and Environmental Science (ES) majors concentrating in Earth System Science (ESS) have the opportunity to work on research projects with faculty members and graduate students in one of the most prestigious graduate programs of geography worldwide. Summer Fellowships are available for qualified students to participate in the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program, an intensive summer academic-year research effort focused on environmental change in New England. Eligible majors also have the opportunity to enter the accelerated M.S. in GIScience program. Other accelerated masters programs include International Development and Social Change, Environmental Science and Policy, and Community Development and Planning.
Geography, GES, and ESS undergraduates are served by the Clark Undergratuate Geography Association (CUGA) and Gamma Theta Upsilon, an international geographic honors society.
CUGA is the voice of Geography, GES, and ESS majors, with student representation on the undergraduate studies committee and the opportunity to attend departmental meetings. CUGA representatives are able to vote at department meetings and give their ideas and opinions on various topics that concern undergraduate majors. They also attend field trips and host events, such as the annual Practicing Geography Week.
Gamma Theta Upsilon is an international honor society. In order to become a member, initiates must have completed a minimum of three geography courses, have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.3, and have completed at least three semesters of college course work. For more information on Gamma Theta Upsilon please see their official website.
Students wishing to minor in Geography must complete the following components of the regular program of the major (for a total of seven courses in Geography):
Two core courses:
Core courses emphasize core geographic concepts and ways of creating knowledge; courses in the core are designed to help build frameworks for understanding the world.
Each year, several 000- and 100-level courses are designated as core courses in each of these areas. In special cases, a 200-level course may be used to fulfill a core course requirement, subject to the approval of the student’s adviser and either the undergraduate adviser or the director of the school.
Each of the core courses must be selected from one of the following broad disciplinary divisions:
- Nature and Society
Analyzes the ways that human societies have used, shaped and constructed nature; impacts of societies, economies and cultures on ecological systems.
- Globalization, Cities and Development
Examines the ways that space and location shape economic, sociopolitical, and cultural life; ways that economic, sociopolitical and cultural factors shape space and location; relationships between these processes and the dynamics of urban life.
- Earth System Science
Earth System Science uses an interdisciplinary approach to study the complex, interacting physical and biological components of the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere and oceans. It places an emphasis on observing, understanding and predicting environmental changes.
- Geographic Information Science
Geographic Information Science is concerned with the acquisition, analysis and communication of geographic information; principles and techniques important in cartography, remote sensing, geographic information systems and spatial analysis.
Three specialization courses:
Two specialization courses must be at the 200 level and one may be at the 100 or 200 level. The faculty adviser must approve the specialization courses selected.
One skills course:
Each student undertaking the geography minor is required to take at least one geography skills course appropriate to the student’s area of specialization. This course must be approved by the student’s adviser.
One elective geography course:
The seventh course in the geography minor is an elective that can be taken at any level.
Geography Faculty and Staff
Yuko Aoyama, Ph.D.
Anthony Bebbington, Ph.D.
Asha Best, Ph.D.
Mark Davidson, Ph.D.
J. Ronald Eastman, Ph.D.
Jody Emel, Ph.D.
Lyndon Estes, Ph.D.
Karen Frey, Ph.D.
Dominik Kulakowski, Ph.D.
Deborah Martin, Ph.D.
James McCarthy, Ph.D.
James T. Murphy, Ph.D.
Richard Peet, Ph.D.
Robert Gilmore Pontius Jr, Ph.D.
Samuel Ratick, Ph.D.
John Rogan, Ph.D.
Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Ph.D.
Florencia Sangermano, Ph.D.
Christopher A. Williams, Ph.D.
Edward Carr, Ph.D.
Jacqueline Geoghegan, Ph.D.
Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger, Ph.D.
B. L. Turner, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor
Dianne Rocheleau, Ph.D.
Martyn Bowden, Ph.D.
Douglas Johnson, Ph.D.
Susan Hanson, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor Emerita
Roger Kasperson, Ph.D.
Gerald Karaska, Ph.D.
Robert Kates, Ph.D.
Duane S. Knos, Ph.D.
William A. Koelsch, Ph.D.
Laurence A. Lewis, Ph.D.
Robert Mitchell, Ph.D.
Henry J. Steward, Ph.D.
Christine Creelman, Department Administrator
Brenda Nikas-Hayes, Graduate Program Administrator
Rachel Levitt, Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Kayla Peterson, Office Coordinator
Hilary Laraba, Managing Editor, Economic Geography
Courses offered within the last 2 Academic Years