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the tradition of a liberal arts degree combined with cutting edge technology

"Geography is an attempt to both understand & meet the world." – Alistair Bonnet

From the Greek word meaning “earth writing,” geography is the study of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment. With roots in the ancient world, geography is an integrative discipline that straddles the science-social science-humanities divide and is centrally concerned with the nature and significance of the places, patterns, and landscapes that make up the earth’s surface.


Most people who are ultimately attracted to the discipline of geography are motivated by much larger aspirations than good salaries. The opportunity to make a difference in the world, in whatever expression that takes, is one of the most frequently cited reasons why current geography students, researchers, and practitioners explain their career choice.

At least three recent global trends can be identified as contributing to a renaissance of geography and its potential for making a difference in society and the world:

• Globalization at an increasing pace and scale, phenomena that compel greater understanding of the world, places, people, and natural systems that affect us as a planet and as global citizens.

• Expansion of geographic technologies, once fairly obscure and now pervasive in our daily lives, such as GPS in cell phones and cars, online mapping at your fingertips, cable news reports using spatial visualizations, and many more applications in modern business and government services.

• An academic trend toward greater interdisciplinarity, especially a renewed focus on big questions that matter but that require a breadth of knowledge and multiple fields to tackle. Geography’s long-standing intellectual traditions in crossing those usual disciplinary boundaries are now better understood, increasingly seen as relevant and more widely respected in scholarly circles.

Undergraduate degrees in geography at U.S. institutions of higher education grew by about 49 percent (from approximately 2,900 to 4,320) between 1987-1988 and 2007-2008. During that same time period, master’s degrees in geography grew by over 50 percent (from approximately 580 to 882) and doctoral degrees grew by about 71 percent (from approximately 150 to 257). These rates of growth outpace most other disciplines (AAG 2008). The number of high school students taking Advanced Placement Human Geography grew from 3,272 in 2002 to 50,730 in 2009 (Murphy 2007).

Our students get JOBS. What have our recent graduates been able to do with their geography degree?

• Marketing and site location jobs with national food and retail corporations

• GIS analyst for local, national and international corporations

• Freelance travel and culture writer, who maintains her own blog about food & culture

• Environmental education director at McDowell Environmental Center

• Regional sales representative for Garmin (GPS technologies)

• Graduate assistantship to Ohio University

• $45,000 international fellowship to study at Queen Mary College, London

• Education Coordinator at Hands On Regional Museum, Johnson City, TN

• Community development project manager, non-profit in Jackson, MS

What does a geography student look like?

He/She may:

• have a broad range of interests

• be curious about places, travel, and/or global patterns

• enjoy being outside; be concerned about environment

• appreciate spatial learning, spatial thinking – love maps and visual representations of information

• be curious about a wide range of subjects, but not sure how to tie it all together into one degree.