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VU Department of Geography and Meteorology
Environmental Geography Concentration

An Overview
Geography is a diverse discipline which is fundamentally concerned with how people interact with the physical environment. Environmental geography explores how humans impact, manage, and conserve that environment, including its land forms, water and soil resources, climate, and plant and animal communities. This concentration will introduce you to this geographic tradition through a combination of physical geography, management, and techniques courses.

Physical geography, as it is often called, involves the study of the major land form types of the earth, as well as the fundamental tectonic, volcanic, fluvial, eolian, and glacial processes that produce them. Also included, however, is the study of the living organisms that cover these landforms, the weather and climate that affects them, and the soils that derive from them. The subfields of geomorphology, biogeography, soil science, and climatology, then, comprise physical geography.

Environmental management involves the protection and conservation of the earth's natural resources, including water, air, soil, energy, and wetlands and other ecosystems. Environmental managers are particularly adept at assessing potential environmental impacts of various activities and at dealing with environmental emergency and disaster planning. Work of this nature requires training in the fields of biology and chemistry.

Environmental geographers make abundant use of geographic tools like GIS and remote sensing, using them to assess the health of endangered ecosystems, track wildlife populations, and site hazardous waste facilities. Training in field techniques and statistics further prepare those in environmental geography for future professional opportunities and challenges.

Geography Courses

    Both of the following:

    • GEO 101: World Human Geography
    • GEO 104: Geomorphology

    Two of the following:

    • GEO 204: National Parks
    • GEO 210: Current Themes in Geography (where appropriate)
    • GEO 215: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
    • GEO 225: Cartography
    • GEO 230: Remote Sensing
    • GEO 260: Environmental Conservation

    Four of the following:

    • GEO 360: Statistical Analysis in Geography
    • GEO 361: Research Design (when appropriate)
    • GEO 385: Field Study
    • GEO 415: Advanced Geographic Information Systems
    • GEO 486: Internship in Geography
    • GEO 490: Selected Topics in Geography (Biogeography)
    • GEO 490: Selected Topics in Geography (Environmental Management)


    • GEO 466: Profession of Geography
    • GEO 495: Independent Study

    Recommended Complementary Courses

    • CE 151: Construction Surveying
    • CE 332: Hydrology*
    • CHEM 121: General Chemistry I*
    • CHEM 122: General Chemistry II*
    • BIO 290: Biological Topics (Botany)*
    • BIO 350: Field Biology*
    • BIO 370: Human Environmental Biology*
    • BIO 440: Ecology*
    • ECON 210: Environmental Economics and Policy
    • MET 103: Meteorology
    • MET 215: Climatology*
    • PHIL 270: Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
    • PSY 355: Environmental Psychology*
    • *See course catalog for prerequisites.

Minors/Second Majors
Minors and/or second majors that complement this concentration include: biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, and meteorology. Of particular interest may be the interdisciplinary environmental studies minor.

Career Fields
This concentration is intended for students interested in graduate work or employment in conservation, environmental impact assessment, land use planning, physical geography, and resource management or with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, or the Environmental Protection Agency.

More Information
For more information on careers in geography and on internships, visit the home page of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) and follow the Careers link.

  If you have any questions about this concentration please contact Prof. Jon T. Kilpinen.


ValpoAdditions and corrections for this page may be directed to Mike Longan
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This page was last updated September 24, 2004