2016-2017 Academic Catalog 
    May 27, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography Minor

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Geography Overview


Geography literally means to write (graphia) about the earth (geo). The discipline of geography therefore studies the earth and how it is impacted by humans. As scholars working in an integrative and holistic discipline, geographers examine earth systems, the interactions between human societies and their physical environments, the spatial dimensions of social processes, and methods for researching, analyzing, and visualizing these varied fields. Within the field of geography, scholars therefore examine questions such as why hurricanes are becoming stronger, how coastal cities might adapt to the effects of climate change, the social and environmental impacts of rapid urbanization, how rural farmers in developing countries are integrated in the global economy and how we can use geographical information systems to analyze, map and communicate our understandings of spatial processes. As our world becomes more inter-twined and turbulent, the need to examine and understand emerging relations between humans and the earth is the concern of geography. Whether it be the relationships between climate and environment, geopolitics and economic production, or satellite imaging and ice melt, geography is one of the few disciplines that seeks to understand the complexities of life on earth.

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.



Undergraduate Program

The geography major aims to (a) give students a foundational training in the core areas of geography and (b) equip students with a specialized set of skills tailored to their specific interests. The core areas of geography are covered by the School of Geography’s four concentrations: “Earth Systems Science”, “Nature-Society”, “Globalization, Cities and Development” and “Geographic Information Science”. Students take foundational courses in each of these clusters before designing their specialization in consultation with their faculty advisor. All Geography majors must take a minimum of 11 courses within the School of Geography. Students may select their four specialization courses within the School’s concentrations or between them. This might see students building an expertise in cities, economies, forests or geographical information science, to name just a few. Students will become geographers, who see the connections and have the intellectual capacities to build complex understandings. The major prepares students for a varied set of careers, depending on their specialization and/or interests. These might include: environmental scientist, urban policy maker, GIS analyst, NGO consultant, forest manager and financial analyst.


    For more information, please visit the Geography Department’s website.

The Clark Advantage

Clark’s School of Geography has a global reputation for research excellence and scholarly innovation. Our undergraduate program is designed to incorporate students into this culture, providing them with training that will equip them to succeed in the most demanding vocational and academic settings.

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. Students have the opportunity to become involved in cutting-edge research with internationally recognized faculty on topics that include ecosystem-climate interactions, arctic science, forest ecology, urban change, land use change, global development and food systems. 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 followed by our majors 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 annual Practicing Geography Week.

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 of college course work. For more information on Gamma Theta Upsilon please see their official website.

Minor Requirements

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

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.
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.
Dianne Rocheleau, Ph.D.
John Rogan, Ph.D.
Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Ph.D.
Florencia Sangermano, Ph.D.
Christopher A. Williams, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty

Jacqueline Geoghegan, Ph.D.
Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger, Ph.D.

Affiliate Faculty

B. L. Turner, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor

Emeriti Faculty

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
Beverly Presley, A.M.L.S., Map and Geography Librarian

Geography Courses

Courses offered within the last 2 Academic Years

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