Department of Geography and Planning

103 Ruby Jones Hall
Dorothy Ives-Dewey, Chairperson

PROFESSORS: Lewandowski, Welch

ASSOCIATE PROFESSORS: Coutu, Fritschle, Ives-Dewey

ASSISTANT PROFESSORS: Crossney, Fasic, Katirai

Geography and planning are academic disciplines that integrate the physical and social sciences. Students study the patterns and processes of human and physical phenomena in relationship to each other. Students gain knowledge that can be applied to solving societal, economic, and environmental problems and to planning for the future, whether they are taking general education or elective courses, acquiring specialized preparation needed for working in geography and planning and related fields, or meeting particular needs in combination with other majors in arts and sciences or professional fields.

The fields of geography and planning assist students in comprehending the broad scope of the physical, cultural, demographic, and economic environments on local, national, and global scales. Geography and planning courses develop skills and organize knowledge from various disciplines, and enable students to examine the integrated whole of a people with reference to habitat and interspatial relationships. Specialized skills, which utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, provide salable skills for students interested in technical careers and complement courses that teach knowledge of environmental and human situations and problems.

Department Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Geography and Planning is multifaceted. The mission is to produce geographers and planners conceptually prepared and technically skilled for spatial analysis and problem solving; to provide majors with the basic background of the discipline; to provide the opportunity to specialize in an area of their interest such as geographic information systems (GIS) and planning; to link undergraduate programs to the surrounding community for professional and graduate-level training; and to serve as a resource for community planning, consulting, and research needs.

In keeping with this mission, the department has the following learning goals for the undergraduate program:

  1. Basic background knowledge in the discipline of geography and planning
  2. Conceptual and technical skills for spatial analysis and problem solving
  3. The ability to conduct geographic research


120 semester hours

The bachelor of arts in geography offers a choice of five emphases (called “tracks”): traditional geography (cultural, environmental, and economic geography including an international perspective), geographic information systems (GIS), urban/regional planning, environmental geography, and elective social studies teacher certification. The geographic information systems and urban/regional planning areas emphasize specialized skill development. Internships are available and are recommended for qualified students.

Geography majors must take GEO 101 or 103 and achieve a grade of 2.0 or better. They also must pass WRT 120 and 200 (or equivalent) with a grade of 2.0 or better.

  1. General ed. requirements, see pages 38-44 (48 semester hours)
  2. Language/culture requirement (0-15 semester hours)
  3. Additional geography or social/behavioral science courses (9 semester hours)
  4. Geography core requirements (33 semester hours)
    Required: GEO 102, 225, 310, 326, 400, and 404 (18 credits)
    Track requirements taken under advisement:
    1. For geography track: five courses from specified groups, selected under advisement (15 credits)
    2. For urban/regional planning track: GEO 214, one GIS course (GEO 324 or 328), one planning course (GEO 320, 322, or 336), and an additional two courses from a specified list, selected under advisement (15 credits)
    3. For geographic information systems track: three courses, GEO 324, 328, and 424, plus two courses from specified lists of courses, selected under advisement (15 credits)
    4. For environmental geography track: two required courses selected from GEO 230, 324, and 332 and three courses from specified lists of courses, selected under advisement (15 credits)
    5. For elective social studies teacher certification track: GEO 204 (interdisciplinary), GEO 301, GEO 312 (diverse communities), plus two additional geography courses. Most recommended are GEO 101, 213, 214, 215, 230, 302, 303, 318, 324, 332 (15 credits). Under advisement, cognates and free electives are selected to complete remaining teacher certification requirements and prepare for standardized examination.

  5. Cognate courses (15 semester hours)
  6. Courses (taken under advisement) that are specifically related to identified career aspirations, and chosen outside general requirements, or geography core:

    1. Required of all majors: ENG 368 or 371
    2. Required for urban/regional planning track: four courses selected under advisement
    3. Required of geographic information systems track: four courses selected under advisement
    4. Required of environmental geographic track: four courses selected under advisement
  7. Free electives (3-15 semester hours)

Elective Social Studies Teacher Certification Program

This 120-degree track allows students to elect courses toward teacher certification requirements that also qualify as general education, cognate, and free elective selections. See the “Educator Preparation Programs” section on 91-93 for an explanation of related requirements.

  1. General ed. requirements, see pages 38-44 (48 semester hours)
    Recommended selections for this track include GEO 204 (interdisciplinary requirement), GEO 312 (diverse communities requirement), CLS 165 and HIS 101 (humanities requirement), ECO 101, MAT 103, and PSC 100 (behavioral and social sciences requirement), SPK 230, and art history or music history (arts requirement). Recommended free electives: EDF 300, EDP 250, MAT 104
  2. Language/culture requirement (0-15 semester hours)
  3. Geography core (see above) (18 semester hours)
  4. Additional geography courses (9 semester hours)
    GEO 301 and two additional courses from recommended list
  5. Secondary education core (33 semester hours)
    EDA 103, 303; EDF 300; EDM 349; EDP 250, 355; EDR 347; EDS 411, 412; LAN/ENG 382

Minor in Geography (18 semester hours)

The geography minor provides a flexible geography focus that combines well with other majors. It consists of 18 semester hours of geography courses, no mor than six hours of which may be at the 100 level. Students are required to take either GEO 101 or 103. The department will advise students on selection of courses appropriate to their needs. Clusters of courses may involve environmental geography, spatial technology, international courses, or courses especially suitable as preparation for social studies education, for example.

Additionally, a cluster of courses in planning allows students from other majors to acquire geography and planning skills and to expand their career possibilities to include such areas as land planning and management, conservation of resources, location of commerce and industry, and county or other local government services.

Minor in Business Geographics and Information Systems (18 semester hours)

The minor program in business geographics and information systems provides students with the spatial analysis skills applied to business-oriented data and questions. Course work focuses on developing expertise with Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

  1. Required courses (9 semester hours)
    GEO 325, 425; ECO 251 or
    GEO 326 or MAT 121
  2. Elective courses (9 semester hours)
    (taken under advisement from the department)
Usually recommended courses include GEO 318, 324, 328, 415, 424, 427; MGT 341, 486; MIS 300, 301; MKT 461


Symbol: GEO

101 World Geography (3) The scope of geography and understanding of the world's regions generated by it. Human society is examined in a frame of spatial, environmental, and resource factors. Map skills and other "tools" of geography are introduced.

102 Physical Geography (3) The study of basic principles of physical geography and of relationships between components of the total earth environment.

103 Human Geography (3) An inquiry into the theoretical and applied approaches to the study of human spatial behavior and the distribution of social problems.

200 Global Cities (3) This course introduces students to historical and current spatial patterns within global cities. This class will discuss the major concepts of urban development and growth, globalization, and city systems using lectures, class discussion, and videos. This course provides students with an understanding of basic geographic principles and applies them to the study of cities across the globe. The course emphasizes the environmental and human characteristics that make cities distinctive collectively and individually.

204 Introduction to Urban Studies (3) An examination of the breadth of urban studies from the perspectives of many social science disciplines. Philadelphia is emphasized as an object of perception, as a place of life and livelihood, and as an example of continual change in the urban environment.
Diverse communities course
Approved interdisciplinary course

205 Geography of Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability (3) Human beings eat food daily, and this necessity has led to conversion of half the Earth’s land surface to agricultural use. This course introduces students to the spatial patterns of agricultural systems on the planet and the physical geography related to them. Students will investigate the impacts of modern agriculture on the environment, as well as human culture and health. This will be followed by an introduction to sustainable alternatives, including local small-scale organic agriculture, urban gardening, and resilient, diverse food-cropping systems. Students will choose a region of the world to study sustainable agricultural systems and prepare a regional food dish to share with the class.

213 GIS for the Social Sciences (3) A course in mapping in the political, economic, and social featuers of places and the analysis of those maps using the ArcView component of ESRI's ARC GIS. Introductory course but with hands-on technology experience; sutable for majors in political science, social work, eocnomics, and other social science disciplines.

214 Introduction to Planning (3) The methods of analyzing problems of urban and regional planning. Emphasis is placed on systems of housing, recreation, transportation, industry, and commerce.

215 GIS for Criminal Justice (3) A course in crime mapping and the analysis of maps of crime patterns, police services, locations of criminal incidents, offenders' geographical behaviors, and spatial trends in crime.

225 Introduction to Maps and Remote Sensing (3) Introduction to mapping and remote sensing. Thorough exposure to grid coordinate systems, representative fractions/scale, map projections, and mapping systems. Also, aerial photographs, digital orthophotos, satellite images, and computers as tools.

230 Environmental Conservation and Sustainability (3) An inquiry into the problems of natural resources protection, management, and sustainability. Emphasis is placed on the United States.

301 United States and Canada (3) An examination of the complexity and diversity of the physical and human landscapes of the U.S. and Canada. Both rural and urban geography are studied with an emphasis on recent geographic changes of influence-such as the shift from an emphasis on production to one on service and consumption, the growing importance of cities, and increasing racial and ethnic diversity.

302 Latin America (3) Central and South America are studied with emphasis on geographic understanding of the major sources of change in recent times. The course focuses on selected individual countries in addition to presentation of the region as a whole.
Culture cluster

303 Europe (3) A survey course focusing on the regional geography of Europe. The course includes an examination of the physical environment, cultural traditions, lifestyles, economies, urban environment, and political change throughout the region.
Culture cluster

310 Population Geography (3) An introduction to the theories, concepts, processes, and geographical patterns of human population.
Writing emphasis course

312 Urban Geography (3) Analysis of patterns, processes, and consequences of urban growth and development. Theory of systems, size, spacing, and functions of cities. Students will conduct outside analysis using real data.
Diverse communities course

316 Planning for Resilient Communities and Natural Disasters (3) This course provides students with the capacity to develop planning and public service skills to understand, diagnose, and address causes, consequences, and mitigation and adaptation measures for a wide variety of emergencies and disasters. These events include natural hazards (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and temperature extremes), accidents, terrorism, and other major events such as climate change and environmental catastrophes that are both rapid and slow moving with often devastating impacts on social structures as well as the built and natural environments.

318 Economic Geography (3) This course is concerned with the spatial patterns of economic activities, including production, consumption, and settlement. It provides an understanding of their location and the processes of change. The course is international in scope, with an emphasis on the global economy.

320 Land Use Planning (3) An inquiry into the development of comprehensive land use studies by governmental and private agencies, emphasizing the development of skills in problem identification and resolution. PREREQ: GEO 214 or permission of instructor.

322 Land Development Controls (3) An insight into the "why" and "how" of land development, emphasizing the role of local government in zoning, subdivision regulation, and other land regulations. PREREQ: GEO 214 or permission of instructor.

324 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (3) Data sources and analysis techniques used in the planning process, with emphasis on appropriate applications. Students receive considerable experience in using geographic information systems technology to solve real-world problems.

325 Business Geographics (3) This course provides a conceptual overview of geographical information systems as well as hands-on experience of software systems used in developing business management and marketing strategies. Attention is focused on using GIS technology as an analysis tool to improve decision making. Designed primarily for marketing majors.

326 Geographical Analysis (3) Applications of basic statistical techniques to problems of spatial significance, emphasizing the adaptation of technique to problem, and the understanding and interpretation of specific analytical methods as applied to real-world situations. PREREQ: MAT 103 or higher-level mathematics course must be passed with a 2.0 or better prior to enrollment in GEO 326.

328 Computer Cartography (3) This course provides an overview of various computer mapping programs and hands-on experience utilizing those programs. The course is structured to develop design skills related to effective map creation. Graphic techniques are emphasized that relate to the effective display and communication of spatial phenomena.

331 Transportation Planning (3) Important issues, descriptive and analytical, facing urban and suburban transportation are studied. Employment of the planning process emphasizes use of analytical tools.

332 Environmental Crises (3) The nature and dimensions of environmental problems with an emphasis on endangered life-support systems. Aspects of natural and social environment systems and their mutual interrelationships.

334 Sustainable Living (3) Practical solutions and innovative thinking in how students can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle personally and professionally. Three interconnected objectives of sustainability- economic vitality, environmental integrity, and social equity- will serve as core themes in the course.

336 Environmental Planning (3) Introduction to the concepts and tools of environmental planning which include landscape form and function in planning. Applications to local and regional issues are stressed.

338  Environmental Application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (3) This course reviews the principles of cartography and GIS in terms of environmental applications. Using ESRI's ArcGIS software, students will add environmental, political, economic, and other types of data to computerized maps to explore environmental analysis. These data will then be spatially examined and manipulated to review the process of mapmaking and decision making.

341 Landscape Analysis (3) The study of contemporary geographical patterns of plants and animals, and the overall processes which influence landscape development and characteristics, such as climatic and geomorphic events, and anthropogenic activities.

352 Geo Politics (3) A study of the casual relations between geographical phenomena and political or military power.

354 Geography and Planning of Housing (3) This course provides an overview of the spatial, economic, social, physical, and political forces that structure and affect current housing conditions and prospects. The course introduces key concepts and institutions that influence the production, distribution, maintenance, and location of housing. The Philadelphia metropolitan area is emphasized as a case study for understanding the implications of present housing geography trends for the future, as well as the development of rational housing policies and plans.

400 Senior Seminar in Geography (3) The study of historical and contemporary trends in geography; the design, preparation, and defense of a research proposal.
Writing emphasis course

401 Internet Mapping (3) This course reviews the principles and applications of cartography and geographic information systems (GIS) in terms of Internet and mobile mapping technologies. Web-distributed maps, Internet map services, navigation/global positioning systems (GPS), and cell-phone-based applications are examined through the use of ArcGIS Internet Map Server, Google Earth, Google APIs, and cell-phone applications. PREREQ: GEO 225 or permission of instructor.

402 Topical Seminar in Geography (3) Intensive examination of a selected area of study in the field of geography. Topics will be announced at the time of offering. Course may be taken more than once when different topics are presented. PREREQ: Junior or senior geography major or consent of instructor.
This course may be taken again for credit.

403 Planning Design (3) Selected experiences designed to assist the student (either as an individual or as a member of a group) in developing proficiency in information-providing techniques.

404 Senior Project in Geography (3) The execution of the research proposal (designed in GEO 400) as an acceptable departmental senior research paper. PREREQ: GEO 400.

410 Independent Studies in Geography (3) Research projects, reports, and readings in geography. PREREQ: Permission of department chairperson.
This course may be taken again for credit.

415 Internship in Geography and Planning (1-12) Practical job experience in applying geographic theory, executing substantive research, and engaging in community service in selected off-campus situations. Open only to upper-division B.A. majors and minors in geography/ planning with permission of department chairperson.
This course may be taken again for credit.

424 Geographic Information Systems Applications (3) A course to advance the student's knowledge of the design and implementation of geographic information systems. PREREQ: GEO 324 or permission of instructor.

425 GIS: Business Applications (3) Intensive use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the business environment to aid in better sales and marketing decisions. Course provides a conceptual overview of database management systems from MIS to geodatabases and their integration with a GIS. Case studies draw numerous examples from various businesses. Student tutorials provide hands-on opportunities for students to experience and learn how to use GIS within a business problem-solving framework. PREREQ: GEO 325 or permission of instructor.

427 Geodatabase Systems (3) The course teaches students the concepts and design of geographic database systems in the process of geographic analysis.