The Department of Geography at Kent State University offers a four-year program in geography or environmental studies leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Graduate students can also pursue a Master of GIS, and Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in geography.

Geographers study both natural science (spatial patterns of rocks, soils, animals, plants, climate and weather) and social science (spatial patterns of sociology, culture, politics, conflict, demographics, economics, resources, waste), with an emphasis on the intersection of human activity and environmental processes. We use data (statistics, interviews, documents) to describe the natural and social patterns we see and then we use our knowledge of human and environmental processes to analyze why these patterns exist. Basically, we ask "Where?" and then we ask "Why?" For this reason, many of us are a "jack-of-all-trades," and know a lot about a combination of topics including: economics, sociology, and environmental sciences and how these vary across space. We also often have spatial analysis and mapping skills using ESRI’s ArcGIS software.

Program Requirements

All students pursuing bachelor's degrees at Kent State complete a series of Kent Core requirements including courses in English composition, mathematics or logic, foreign language, humanities, fine arts, social sciences and basic sciences.

The following geography courses are required of each student in the geography major:

  • World Geography or Geography of the United States and Canada
  • Physical Geography
  • Human Geography
  • Nature & Society
  • Geographic Information Science (GIS)
  • Statistical Methods in Geography
  • Senior Seminar in Geography

Additionally, students are required to take at least 18 hours selected from one of the following concentrations: social geography, environmental geography or geographical information sciences. These concentrations are detailed on the major requirement sheet. Geography courses include those focused on world regions, human-environment interactions, urban planning, GIS applications in health and social problems, and spatial programming.

The following courses are required of each student in the environmental studies major:

  • Biodiversity
  • Nature & Society
  • Environmental Earth Science
  • Environmental Studies & Sustainability
  • Integrative Senior Project

Additionally, students are required to take a variety of natural science courses, a methods course, and several social science/humanities electives.

department Faculty

Areas of faculty expertise include extreme events (hazards, weather and climate); social justice (violence, nationalism, uneven development, environmental injustice); urban environments (sustainability, planning, urban ecology, public health); and geospatial technologies (spatial programming, remote sensing, applied GIS).

Special Departmental Programs and facilities

The department houses two interdisciplinary minors: Climatology and Urban Studies.

The department includes the GIS Health and Hazards Lab, as well as a Computational Social Science Lab. These labs provide undergraduate experiences in applications of geography to academic research.

The University's Map Library is located within the Geography Department.

What do geographers do?

As a geography or environmental studies major, you'll have a vast array of career options available to you. In fact, there are few positions called "geographer." Instead, we work in environmental, social and GIS fields, where we use our spatial skill sets to solve problems and produce solutions.

Graduates of the environmental studies program will be able to:

  • Understand the environment and how it relates to human activity, human resource needs and human cognition.
  • Grasp the interconnections between environmental and human systems and how those play out in particular problem areas.
  • Articulate how environmental problems are framed and how public attitudes and policies can be harnessed to provide solutions to environmental degradation.