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Clark University    
  Jan 22, 2018
2012-2013 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography Major

Geography Overview

Undergraduate Program

Geography takes students into the world of integrated science by focusing on the relationships between people and environmental systems as well as by offering the lens of geographical information systems to explore these relationships. Students work on such topical issues as: problems of sustainable development, the livability of cities and the causes and consequences of urban sprawl, global environmental change, local consequences of economic globalization, social consequences of climate change, and politics, gender, and livelihood changes. Due to the university’s special facilities and its accomplished, actively engaged faculty, Geography majors are also encouraged to become experts in the engaging field of GIS (Geographic Information Science).

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 an earth-science teaching and research laboratory.


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.A. in GIScience program. Other accelerated M.A. 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 University 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 CUGA Annual Address on Practicing Geography.

Gamma Theta Upsilon is an international honor society. In order to become members, 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 (or five quarters) of college course work. For more information on Gamma Theta Upsilon please see their official website.

Major Requirements

Students majoring in Geography must take 11 Geography courses in accordance with the following guidelines, as stated in the Guide to the Major.

Four 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. Students select one core course from each of the following four broad disciplinary core areas:


1. Nature and Society:

Analyzes the ways that human societies have used, shaped, and constructed nature; impacts of societies, economies, and cultures on ecological systems; and societal and environmental consequences of the interaction.


2. 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.

3. Earth System Science.

Earth System Science uses an interdisciplinary approach to study the complex, interacting physical and biological components of the Earth’s land surface, atmosphere, cryosphere and oceans, placing an emphasis on observing, understanding and predicting global environmental changes.

4. Geographic Information Science.

Geographic Information Science is concerned with the acquisition, analysis, and communication of geographic information and with principles and techniques important in cartography, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and spatial analysis.

One Skills Course

Skills courses give you the opportunity to acquire and apply research, literacy, numeracy, and mapping skills for generating and interpreting knowledge. Our goal is for students to become critical thinkers and to have an understanding of how knowledge is created. This course must be approved by the Advisor via a signature on the Worksheet and Learning Plan for majors. Skills courses must be either offered by the Geography Department or offered by other departments with a Geography attribute.

Four Specialization Courses

Specialization courses are a collection of courses that form a coherent combination as judged by the Advisor as indicated by the Advisor’s signature on the Worksheet and Learning Plan. Specialization courses give you an opportunity to explore a specific subject area in depth. Majors are required to take four specialization courses, three of which must be at a 200-level and one of which may be either at a 100-or 200-level. Specialization courses must be either offered by the Geography Department or offered by other departments with a Geography attribute. (An attribute is a characteristic that the registrar uses to make a course appear on the course listings of the attributed department.) We advise but do not require you to take the four Core Courses and the Research Methods course before taking specialization courses, because the specialization courses apply skills in research and problem solving. The Geography Department allows students to perform an internship for credit that can count as 200-level specialization course, upon approval of the advisor.

Research Methods

Geography 141 Research Design and Methods is required for the major. We advise you to complete this course before taking 200-level courses in geography. Research Methods is offered at least once per year.

Comparable courses in other departments can be substituted for the Geography Research Methods course with the approval of the Advisor. However, this does not reduce the total number of Geography courses required for the major. Thus majors for whom a substitution has been granted will need to take an additional Geography course to ensure that a total of 11 Geography courses are taken.


One Capstone credit is required for the major. To meet the Capstone requirement, the student must earn a 200-level credit that relates to the student’s specialization that includes at least one of the following:

1. A graduate level course as indicated by a combined 200/300 level status
2. Human Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) or Forest Ecology Research Lab (FERL) or Polaris
3. Directed Study with a faculty advisor
4. Internship
5. Honors thesis
6. Public Presentation, including academic spree day
7. Research Experience

The student’s Advisor is the judge to determine whether any particular credit satisfies the capstone criterion. The Advisor will make the judgment based on the purpose of the capstone, which is for the student to integrate content and skills in Geography, as applied to a particular topic. The student must obtain the Advisors’ permission on the Capstone Form at the back of this guide, and then deliver the form to the Undergraduate Program Assistant before beginning the qualifying activity and before registration for the 200-level credit. Upon completion of the Capstone credit, the student must obtain on the Capstone Form the permission of the professor who awards the Capstone credit, and then submit the form to the Undergraduate Program Assistant.

Worksheet, Learning Plan, and Learning Synopsis

Each student is required to prepare a formal Worksheet and Learning Plan upon declaring a major or minor in Geography, and each major is required to complete a Learning Synopsis by the second week of their final semester. Students may use the forms in the back of the Guide to the Major.


Double Majoring

All majors must complete 11 Geography courses in accordance with the plan described in the Guide to the Major, even when they have a second major. Two credits at most can count simultaneously for a first and second major. University rules that dictate Double majors are in the University’s Blue Book.



The honors program in geography provides qualified students majoring in Geography and in Global Environmental Studies an opportunity to conduct a major independent research project on a topic of interest.


    Program Requirements

  • Complete a two-semester independent honors project (thesis) or counterpart in accepted “selective” program, such as HERO, the final product of which is evaluated by a Honors Committee.
  • Present a poster or paper related to the honors project at Academic Spree Day or at a relevant professional meeting.
  • Project must be supervised by a geography faculty member and one additional faculty member; the two members constitute the student’s Honors Committee.


    Program Candidate Qualifications

  • Open to juniors with a minimum GPA of 3.25 overall and 3.5 GPA in the geography major by the end of first semester of the junior year of study, and who demonstrate the appropriate research background to undertake independent geographic research.
  • Honors participants should have taken GEOG141 Research Methods, or its equivalent, before entering the program.


    Applying for Honors

  • Notification of eligibility and information about the program is forwarded to all junior students in November of the junior year.
  • Students wishing to start their honors project in the spring semester of the junior year must notify the undergraduate program assistant by December 15. Those students wishing to start their honors project in the fall semester of their senior year must notify the undergraduate program assistant by March 15.
  • Acceptance to the Honors Program is considered provisional until grades for the fall semester (junior year) are received. If these grades enable the student to continue meeting the GPA standards described above, she/he becomes formally accepted to the program.
  • Honors students register for GEOG297 Directed Research (Honors), or HERO for two semesters -spring/fall of the junior-senior year or fall/spring of the senior year.


Details of the honors program in geography are available in the undergraduate section of The Graduate School of Geography’s web page.

Geography Faculty and Staff

Program Faculty

Yuko Aoyama, Ph.D.
Anthony Bebbington, Ph.D.
Mark Davidson, Ph.D.
J. Ronald Eastman, Ph.D.
Jody Emel, Ph.D.
Karen Frey, Ph.D.
Alex Gardner, Ph.D.
Dominik Kulakowski, Ph.D.
Deborah Martin, Ph.D.
James McCarthy, Ph.D.
James T. Murphy, Ph.D.
Richard Peet, Ph.D.
Colin Polsky, Ph.D.
Robert Gilmore Pontius Jr, Ph.D.
Samuel Ratick, Ph.D.
Dianne Rocheleau, Ph.D.
John Rogan, Ph.D.
Christopher A. Williams, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty

Jacqueline Geoghegan, Ph.D.

Affiliate Faculty

Robert Kates, Ph.D.

Research Faculty

Susan Hanson, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor Emerita
Roger Kasperson, Ph.D.
B. L. Turner, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor

Emeriti Faculty

Martyn Bowden, Ph.D.
Douglas Johnson, Ph.D.
Gerald Karaska, 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.

Affiliate Scientist

Florencia Sangermano, Ph.D.


Jean Heffernan, Assistant to the Director
Brenda Nikas-Hayes, Graduate Program Administrator
Katherine Rugg, Undergraduate Assistant
Colleen Dolan, Office Coordinator
Hilary Laraba: Managing Editor, Economic Geography
Beverly Presley, A.M.L.S.: Map and Geography Librarian

Geography Courses