Environment and Society Specialization

Effective Autumn 2022, the Environment and Society Specialization will be replaced by the Social and Environmental Geography (SEG) major. Any current E&S major interested in switching to the SEG major should contact their advisor.


The Environment and Society specialization within the Geography major emphasizes the inseparability of social and natural systems. Geographers uniquely draw from integrated human and physical approaches to understand how environmental change, sustainability and social justice all require attention to interactions between humans and their environments. In our courses and in our research we analyze global environmental change, climate change, ecosystem modeling, environmental justice and health, political ecology, globalization and environment, and land-system science, among many other scholarly traditions. We work in forests, wetlands, cities, oceans, glaciers and food systems. And finally, we teach methods of inquiry that can include spatial analysis, remote sensing, field methods and instrumentation, ethnography, Marxism, and science studies. Students can get involved in many research and service learning opportunities outside the classroom.

There is no minimum GPA, required prerequisites, or application required to declare a major in Geography with a specialization in Environment & Society.

Environment and Society Curriculum

Undergraduate Curriculum

Issues & Topics:

Global challenges

  • Deforestation
  • Global climate change
  • Pollution
  • Ozone depletion
  • Desertification
  • Waste management

Law and policy issues

  • Environmental management
  • Social justice
  • Conservation
  • Socioeconomics
  • Imbalances of power

Ecological systems (human-environmental impact)

  • Environmental regulation
  • Soil degradation
  • Landform change
  • Hydrology
  • Plant distribution
  • Climatology

Field research

  • Ecological system management
  • Emergency management
  • Cartography and GIS
  • Spatial analysis
  • Remote sensing

Acquired Skills:

Critical skills

  • Critical thinking and reasoning
  • Oral and written communication
  • Research design, interpretation, and implementation
  • Ability to integrate and analyze information from a range of sources
  • Knowledge of moral and ethical issues

Technical skills

  • Solid foundation in mathematics and the physical sciences
  • Quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • Graphic communication (including map reading and geovisualization)
  • Ability to develop graphical models and visually represent vast amounts of data


Geographers find careers in many fields both within and outside the discipline of geography. Below is a partial listing of careers for which students within the Environment and Society specialization are well-suited and where previous graduates have found employment.

  • Environment Analyst
  • Policymaker/Planner: natural resources and environmental policy, transportation, energy, water, hazardous waste
  • Manager/Planner for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Real estate developer
  • Professional in firms specializing in forestry, mining, engineering, architecture, or surveying
  • Flood Plain Manager
  • Attorney: Environmental Law
  • Natural Hazards Specialist
  • Cultural Ecologist
  • Water/Air Quality Specialist
  • Environmental Monitor for state and federal health departments
  • Location Expert
  • Business Consultant