About the UMW Geography Department

Dr. Joseph Nicholas talks to students on the banks of a small stream

Students doing geomorphology fieldwork with Dr. Joseph Nicholas

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Geographers explore our world. We do this by synthesizing our knowledge of the natural environment with an understanding of how people create the places in which we live. Geography includes the study of natural hazards, urban environments, sustainable development, and the political, cultural, and economic geographies of globalization.

To gather and analyze information on such topics, geographers use geographic information systems (GIS), satellite imagery, field measurement and observation, and in-depth interviewing techniques.

The knowledge and skills gained by majoring in geography position graduates for careers as geospatial analysts, planners, researchers, and teachers. Mary Washington alumni with degrees in geography work for federal agencies, local and state governments, industry leaders in geospatial technologies, and service organizations. In addition, many alumni have excelled in graduate programs.

The UMW Geography Department

The Geography Department at University of Mary Washington offers a wide range of courses for both majors and non-majors. These are organized into three areas of emphasis:

Community, Development, and Culture: A focus on how people living in specific places and regions experience and affect social, cultural, economic, and environmental processes.  Includes courses in planning and urban geography, local development, race and place, human-environment relationships, and regional geographies.

Globalization:  A focus on the geographies of globalization and their political, cultural, and economic dimensions.  Includes courses in geopolitics, economic and cultural globalization, international development, migration, and regional geographies.

Nature and Society:  A focus on the physical and social processes that shape the natural environment and affect human life.  Includes courses in landforms, climatology, human-environment relationships and regional geographies.

The requirements for the geography major allow students maximum flexibility and help them begin to specialize within the discipline.  After completing a streamlined set of introductory courses, students will consult with their advisors to select topical, regional, and methods/techniques courses in that will build expertise and skills within one of these three areas of emphasis (see the full listing of geography courses to see what courses fall within each of the core areas).

In addition the Department, working with the Departments of Computer Science, Earth & Environmental Science, and Historic Preservation, offers a Certificate Program in Geographic Information Science (GIS).  Courses in this program are available on both the Fredericksburg and Stafford campuses, and are offered in evenings as well as during the day.

The Department’s nine full-time faculty are actively engaged in research in political geography, GIScience, geography and social justice, geomorphology, biogeography, historical geography, heritage tourism, and critical cartography. Recent publications include books and book chapters with the Routledge, Blackwell, Wiley-Blackwell, Temple University Press, and Ashgate Publishers. Journal articles by faculty appear in Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, the Geographical Review, Progress in Human Geography, Social and Cultural Geography, the Southeastern Geographer, and Iranian Studies.

Students and visitors are welcome to drop by the Department on the third floor of Monroe Hall to learn more about us, ask questions, and see our facilities.