The field of geography has been invigorated by dramatic technological improvements in geographic information systems, aircraft-based and satellite-based remote sensing, global positioning systems, and predictive modeling. Increasingly, these tools are being applied to resolve many issues, including urban and suburban planning, assessment of natural disasters, plant and animal invasions and declines, and climate change, to name a few. Humans interact with the biological, chemical, and physical attributes of their surrounding environment in ways that dovetail with sociological, economic, and political drivers.
These interactions, and their sometimes subtle feedbacks, can be explored through traditional descriptive observation and manipulative experimentation, and by mathematically based models that help us to characterize the past, and also to predict the future. Understanding the complex interactions between humans and their environment requires an interdisciplinary perspective, which our department embodies. The Department of Geography and the Environment constitutes an administrative unit that offers undergraduate degrees in emerging and growing fields in geography and environmental science. Our new Department through its degree programs is unique within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in that it truly bridges and effectively integrates the social sciences and the natural/physical sciences in ways that embrace the liberal arts tradition of the College and of the University.