Undergraduate students can major or minor in geography and the department also offers a major and minor in urban studies and planning. Geographers study the characteristics of space, location and place in the broader context of how people interact with both physical and human environments. Geography can be classified as both a natural science and a social science as it examines people and their environment and serves as a bridge between the physical and cultural worlds. Planning is a discipline and professional practice that deals with the form, organization, and orderly development of cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Geographic information systems (GIS), computer mapping, remote sensing, and related technologies are central to the discipline of geography and are indispensable in many areas of professional planning practice.
Teaching and research in the department emphasize urban, social, physical, and cultural geography; city and regional planning; urban design; remote sensing; cartography and geographic information systems; environmental studies; climatology; computer and statistical models; area (regional) studies; urban and regional planning methods; economic development; small town and rural land-use planning. Members of the faculty have strong international links with China, Russia, Australia, and various countries in Africa, Latin America and Western Europe