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Geography Major

Many of our most interesting and urgent questions today occur at the intersection of society, space, and environment:

  • How does climate affect food production?
  • Why does uneven distribution of power and resources relate to conflict along international borders?  
  • What are the motivating forces of global economic changes and its local impacts?
  • How do planners design equitable and sustainable cities?

All of these are problems of uneven distributions of power and resources, across space and among communities. Geographers analyze how unevenness plays out in places where we live and how the flow of people, ideas, and resources changes the world. We take an integrative perspective on human and environmental systems, both of which help shape the places and problems we care about.

Geographers learn diverse analytical and research skills:

  • Field experience helps us understand how theory intersects with the empirical world around us.
  • GIS (geographic information systems) and mapping explain relationships among factors such as settlement patterns, resources, climate change impacts, or poverty.
  • Theoretical frameworks such as political ecology, world systems, and socio-nature give insights into power relations among places and peoples.

If you are interested in integrative problems of society, environment, policy, and sustainability, Geography provides a place to develop critical reading, writing, and analytical skills to understand these challenges.

Careers in Geography

Broad and integrative training in Geography provide majors with excellent grounded knowledge to allow them to  go into urban planning, environmental consulting, environmental and urban policy, community development, business, law, government, GIS analysis, education, and many other careers involving community or environmental analysis.

Interested first-year students should take Geography 102, Global Geography: Place-Making in the Modern World. This course examines major contemporary issues, including environmental and climate change impacts on local communities, uneven development in the global political-economic system, the implications of nation-states and territorial boundaries, cultural landscapes, differentiated urban space, and mapping and cartographic communication.

A number of Earth Science courses, including ESCI 151, Earth, Environment, and Humanity, also count toward a Geography major.

Courses and Requirements

Academic requirements and courses are available in the Vassar College Catalogue.

Learning Objectives

1) Demonstrate in written and oral work an understanding of thedynamic and complex nature of linkages among humans, other life forms, and the environment, while doing so in regard to variations in space, time and social relations. (Geographic concepts and synthesis)

2) Develop proficiency in the theory and practice of one or more topic areas of the discipline, such as cartography, political geography, economic geography, urban geography, and environmental conservation. (Methods and theory)

3) Demonstrate proficiency incareful writing, centered around a clear research question, and substantiated by an argument supported through evidence. Such work will manifest strong analytical skills with respect to spatial forms and representations, such as maps, geographic patterns, landscape analysis, qualitative and quantitative data, photographic and visual depiction, and/or archival documentation of historical geography. (Reasoning and Communication)


Correlate Sequences

Thesis guidelines