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Geography and Planning

The geographer and planner study people, the environment, and the ways they affect one another. They analyze human activities on the land and how they influence the natural environment. Geography forms an interdisciplinary bridge between the physical and human worlds. Thus, these professionals are concerned with relating the natural and human-made environment to changing patterns of land use. To do this effectively, they must understand and integrate multidisciplinary concepts to solve real-world problems.

The Department of Geography and Planning has designed programs to meet the needs of students who are seeking: 1) to develop a broad liberal arts education focusing on global literacy of humans and their environments; 2) to become professionals in the field of rural and community planning, environmental restoration, and geographic information systems; 3) to prepare for a career in business, government, or teaching.

The minor in geography is of value to students majoring in the sciences, recreation, economics, business, geology, social sciences, and to those seeking teaching credentials. The minor in planning is of value to majors in public administration, political science, business, engineering, economics, and recreation.

Faculty and Facilities

The faculty and staff are strongly committed to involving students in the rapidly evolving technical innovations in computer applications in geography, geographic information systems, computer cartography and production techniques, and remote sensing. The computer graphics laboratory has several microcomputer work stations, and timesharing connections to the university computers. Excellence in writing and communication is emphasized, and students are given ample guidance to sharpen these skills. The faculty is especially interested and skilled in preparing students in the practical and applied areas of geography and planning: resource management, environmental assessment, location analysis, remote sensing, general plan preparation, regional development, landscape ecology, cartography, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Lecture courses are often supplemented with field trips and community research experiences; internships, work experience, community service programs, and public service programs supplement the experiences on campus. The diverse geography of the Northern California region provides a valuable laboratory in which to learn geographic concepts and processes, and to practice field skills.

Career Outlook

Geographers and planners may choose from several skill subjects and many general themes to prepare themselves for employment after graduation in both the public and private sector. One of the growth areas for employment in the country and Northern California is that of rural, environmental, and community planning. Many graduates in geography accept employment in planning and resource management positions. Opportunities also exist with private industry, and state and federal governments in such areas as geographic information systems, water resources, computer cartography, global studies, transportation studies, land management, recreation, parks, and tourism.

Geographers and planners are especially equipped to apply their skills to the analysis of land use and economic activities, and their environmental impacts. They understand the broad and synthesizing point of view and are able to formulate solutions to comprehensive problems  in business and government. The growth industries of ecological restoration, recreation, and economic development are finding geographers have the knowledge and skills to contribute at local, national, and international levels.

Geographers and planners are also finding positions in teaching. Training at the master’s level has prepared a number of our graduates to teach at different levels ranging from elementary schools to universities.