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Geography and Planning

The geographer and the planner study how people create, interact with, change, and understand their physical and social environments. Geography, is a major providing globalization to local knowledge, focused on building resilient communities and landscapes, and providing 21st century skills.  Geography, is something you DO, not something you know.  

The Department of Geography and Planning meets the needs of students who wish:

  1. to receive a broad foundational liberal arts and sciences education focusing on local to global literacy; 
  2. to develop technological capabilities related to geographic data interpretation, their spatial representation, and presentation.
  3. to become professionals in the fields of geographic specialist, planning (environmental, urban/rural, and/or transportation), sustainability mitigation and management, environmental conservation and restoration, and geospatial technologies; or
  4. to prepare for business, K-12 teaching, or government civil service careers.  

The major is available to students through two options:

  1. Human Geography and Planning: focuses on some of the major challenges and trends of society, including the growth, ageing and distribution of populations; urban expansion and decline; the distribution of resources; global cultural diversity and economic development; and ecological sustainability. Students gain knowledge and skills to understand and intervene in major urban, rural, and regional processes. Graduates will contribute to the creation of livable communities, regenerative economies and sustainable places.
  2. Physical Geography and Environment: focuses on both physical geographic processes that take place on Earth as well as human-environment relations. Drawing from the natural and social sciences, environmental and physical geographers study water politics, practices and planning; environmental degradation and restoration; applied ecological measurement, management and conservation; landscape terrain development; and global climate change processes, mitigation and adaptation. Graduates will contribute applied science solutions to support the socio-cultural and political-economic processes that govern the use and management of environmental resources.

In addition, the department offers two certificates:

The Certificate in Geospatial Technologies provides students with a foundation in geographical technology and information science with hands-on use of the latest software.

The Certificate in Land Use and Environmental Planning is valuable to our majors and other students who wish to prepare for careers in urban or environmental planning and related fields such as resource management and rural economic development.

The department also offers three minors and an interdisciplinary double major:

The Environmental Studies Minor provides interdisciplinary investigation into critical environmental issues. The Minor is appropriate for all majors seeking to increase environmental literacy in their chosen fields. This minor goes beyond the GE Pathway minor in Sustainability, and therefore would be a natural continuation for a student finishing the GE Pathway.

The Geography Minor is of value to students majoring in the sciences, recreation, economics, business, geology, history, social sciences, and to those seeking K-12 teaching credentials.

The Minor in Planning and Development is attractive to students in public administration, political science, business, engineering, recreation, and economics who wish to pursue a career in planning.

The Geography and Economics interdisciplinary double major provides a balanced set of courses that accentuate geographical concepts and techniques with the exacting analysis of economic policy and development.

The Geography and History interdisciplinary double major provides a balanced set of courses that accentuate geographical concepts and techniques with the humanities analysis of history and development. 

Faculty and Facilities

The faculty conduct courses in multimedia classrooms and supplement their classes with field trips, community and landscape research, internships, and public service. The faculty and staff are committed to involving students in technical innovations in geographic information systems (GIS), digital cartography, GPS and remote sensing; as well as fieldwork excursions to urban and natural landscape systems. Excellence in writing and communication is emphasized as well. The diverse geography and resources of Northern California provide a valuable laboratory in which to learn geographic and planning concepts and processes, and to provide service learning opportunities for students.

Career Outlook

Given its emphasis on local to global literacy, sustainable development, environmental resources, and information technology, geography is a widely recognized growth field in the 21st century (US Bureau of Labor, 2012). According to the latest report from the Government Accountability Office (2015) the workforce of the future will need people who have geographic skills; projecting the employment need for geographic specialist to grow 30 percent from 2012 to 2022.  Without knowledge of geography, employees might not grasp the forces behind economic, political, social and environmental changes.  A great deal of what is going on in the world today--from understanding global terrorism to national economics--boils down to geography understanding and analysis. Geography and planning students may choose from several subjects and skills to prepare for careers in public and private sectors. Geographic specialists and planners bring valuable expertise to the fields of water resources, fire management, GIS/cartography, transportation, land management, recreation, environmental restoration and stewardship, and sustainable community development. GIS have many applications in business, crime analysis, healthcare management, fire research, environmental management, land use planning, agriculture, water resources, climate forecasting, the social sciences and geohumanities.  In addition, many graduates of our program have also pursued teaching careers in K-12 schools, and gone on to graduate school to then become lecturers in community colleges, and universities.

Catalog Cycle:17