Department Fact Sheet

Department of Geography & Meteorology

Department Chair: Teresa Bals-Elsholz, Ph.D.
Kallay-Christopher Hall 201 | 219-464-6003

Majors offered:

Links to Web sites:
Department of Geography & Meteorology
(department maintained)

VALPO GEOGRAPHY MAJORS study more than topographical maps. They gain skills in cutting edge computer mapping technology and apply them to solve economic, social, and environmental issues. Whether carrying out research at the Indiana Dunes or in downtown Chicago, Valpo Geography majors learn to make an impact .

What Can You Do with a Geography Major?

Degree, Skills or Experience Needed for Beginning A Job In This Field:
Geography is an attractive major for students, and the variety of skills geography students possess make them attractive to many potential employers. Some of these skills include map and satellite image analysis, spatial database management, computer cartography, site assessment, route planning, statistical analysis, field survey ability, and writing proficiency. Ideally, students gain experience in these areas through internships. Career opportunities abound for students with a B.A. in geography, although few such positions are designated with the title of "geographer." Still more careers and vocations exist for students with a graduate degree in geography.

Kinds of Careers Available in Geography:
Airline operations manager, atlas editor, cartographer, census analyst, communication illustrator, compliance officer, computer mapping technician, consumer surveyor, defense analyst, demographer, development specialist, economic development coordinator, education planner, energy resource analyst, environmental impact analyst, environmental legal assistant, GIS Analyst, housing planner/analyst, import/export consultant, land use specialist, land classification analyst, location analyst, map curator, marketing analyst, military analyst, park service/forest service ranger, real estate researcher or appraiser, resource planner, shipping broker, shorelands management developer, social studies teacher, software design soils specialist, State Department country analyst, technology analyst, trade consultant, transportation planner, travel agent, urban planner, water quality coordinator .

What Is Distinctive About Valpo's Geography Program?

Valpo has one of the oldest and most respected Geography departments in the United States and has produced a stream of professional geographers. More members of the Association of American Geographers—the leading professional organization in the field in the U.S.—completed their undergraduate degrees at Valpo than at any other school of a comparable size. This should continue well into the future.

The Department has a new computer laboratory equipped with the latest GIS software, training students for new internships and employment opportunities. Students continue to attend regional conferences, and most participate in field courses or directed research projects ranging from Urban Planning to Dendroecology.

What Beyond-the-Classroom Opportunities Does Valpo Offer You in Geography?

Field Study:
Students can take advantage of frequent field course offerings, studying environmental and cultural topics on site in various parts of the country. In the past two years, the Department has offered the following field courses: The Grand Canyon, Mississippi Mound Culture, Yellowstone National Park, Plains Indian Battlesites, and the Biogeography of the Sonorant Desert.

Most Geography students gain valuable experience in their field by completing internships, many of which are paid. Valpo students have completed geography internships with the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, the National Geographic Society and a number of city planning departments across the Midwest.

Off-Campus Opportunities

Study Abroad:
Students can take part in Valpo’ s study-abroad programs in countries such as Mexico, England, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Japan, China, and Namibia as well as taking part in semester programs in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Geography students, for instance, can complete the Chicago Urban Semester and earn an Urban Studies minor.

Notable Alumni

Thomas Baerwald (VU ’72), Deputy Assistant Director—Geosciences, National Science Foundation

Harold Moellering (VU ’65), Professor of Geography, Ohio State University

John Kupfer (VU ’88), Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Arizona

A.J. Monroe (VU ’95), Planning Director, Portage, Indiana

Richard Wells (VU ’71), Director, Community Development, Casselberry, Florida

Chelsea Zillmer (VU ’97), Researcher, Geography Competitions, National Geographic Society