2011-2012 Academic Catalog 
    May 30, 2024  
2011-2012 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography Major


Undergraduate Program

Geography, along with its links to Clark’s newest majors: Global Environmental Studies and Environmental Science, takes students into the world of integrated science by focusing on the relationships between people and their environments, as well as by offering the lens of geographical information systems to explore these relationships. Students work as such topical issues as: problems of sustainable development, the livability of cities and the causes and consequences of urban sprawl, climate change, local consequences of economic globalization, social consequences of climate change, and politics, gender, and livelihood chances. Due to the university’s special facilities its and accomplished, actively engaged faculty, Geography majors are also encouraged to become experts in the engaging field of GIScience (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.

The Clark Advantage

Geography majors, Global Environmental Studies (GES) majors, and Environmental Science (ES) majors concentrating in Earth Systems 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 periodically have group gatherings to discuss topics of interest to geography majors, such as research, internships, courses and future jobs.

Gamma Theta Upsilon is an elite international honor society; initiates must have completed a minimum of three geography courses, have a B+ average in geography, 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.

Affiliate Faculty

Robert Kates, Ph.D.


Hilary Laraba: Managing Editor, Economic Geography
Beverly Presley, A.M.L.S.: Map and Geography Librarian


Program 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.


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 Systems Science.

Examines how Earth systems (ecosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere) naturally function, how these systems interact with one another, and how they are affected by human activities.

4. 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.

Core courses in Geographic Information Science:

One Skills Course

This course must be approved by the Advisor via a signature on the Worksheet and the Learning Plan (both of which are available in the Guide to the Major, where you may also find more information concerning requirements for completion of the skills course.)

Research Methods

Geography 141 Research Methods is required for the major, although comparable courses in other departments can be substituted for the course with approval of the Advisor. Please refer to page five of the Guide to the Major for more details.



One Capstone credit is required for the major. Please refer to page five of the Guide to the Major for more details concerning qualifying activity.


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 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 Blue Book.



The honors program in geography provides qualified students majoring in geography and 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 School of Geography’s Web page.