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Critical Geography, Political Ecology, and Globalization Studies

Geography, a word derived from the Greek for “earth writing,” is the study of the biosphere and the human and nonhuman forces that have shaped the Earth’s diverse terrestrial environments through time. A discipline with roots in classical antiquity, geography has been called “the Mother of the Sciences,” an epistemic claim derived from the close relationship between exploration, mapping, and the production of knowledge. Critical geography is the continuing pursuit of geographic knowledge combined with the analysis of power dynamics in the production of spatial knowledge and the experiences and practices that constitute space and place in everyday life. Given the central role of exploration, mapping, and “earth description” in imperial and colonial enterprises, critical geographers interrogate sociocultural linkages between conceptions of nature, the body, human populations, race and ethnicity, sex and gender, the human and non-human, the appropriation of natural resources, the state and governance, war and peace, and competing conceptions of the spatialities of modernity and civilization. Political ecology explores these subjects with emphasis on the politics of ecological relations, how such relations are characterized, by whom, and for what purposes. Globalization studies encompasses a particular set of assumptions regarding international interconnectedness, as well as challenges to those assumptions, and draws from all disciplines of the social sciences.


This concentration requires a core of at least 24 credits of course work in geography and related subjects (at least two of these courses must be at the 300-level or higher). Students must take one introductory course in physical geography, human geography, or environmental studies from the first section. A course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is highly recommended. To complete the concentration, students must design a cohesive plan of study with at least two courses from one of the two remaining sections and at least four from the other. Courses in social studies, history, or area studies not listed below may also fulfill the requirements. Students are also expected to take at least one course in research methods (in social science or natural science) or statistics.

Introductory Physical Geography, Human Geography, and Environmental Studies

(At least one course required)
Environmental Studies 100 Introduction to Environmental Studies
Geography 214 CP Reading the Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Cultural Geography
Politics 210/310 Seminar in Global Politics
Social Science 224 Globalization

Human-Environment Relations, Political Economy, and Political Ecology

African American Studies 302 Critical Race Theory
Economics 101 Macroeconomics
Environmental Studies 200 Principles of Ecology
Environmental Studies 205 Human Geography of  Nature Conservation
Environmental Studies 304 Topics in Environmental Management
Geography 215m The Agricultural World: Land, Food, Sustainability
Geography 226m Globalization and Community Ecology
Geography 316 Projects in Political Ecology
Off-Campus Program 301 CP Sacred Landscapes and Nature Conservation in China and the Tibetan Borderlands

Humanistic Geography, Cultural Studies, and Regional Studies

Anthropology 200 Introduction to Cultural Studies
Intercultural Studies 313 CP Liberation Theology and Latin America
Intercultural Studies 314T CP The Arab World
Philosophy 206 CP Religions and Philosophies of East Asia
Politics 325 Politics by Other Means I
Politics 326 Politics by Other Means II
Social Science 302 The Foucault Effect
Social Science 309 Quantitative Research Methods in Social Sciences
Approved Study Abroad

Recent Senior Theses

“There’s No Place like Home: A Phenomenological Inquiry Regarding the Meaning of Dwelling”
“Bpai Tiew: The Experience of Travel”
“Unión de Mujeres Campesinas de Xilitla: Finding a New Place in the Global Economy”
“Tibetans at Home in Tibet: Locating an Emergent Tibetan National Identity in the Tibetan Cultural Regions of the People’s Republic of China”
“Warped: An Exploration of the Culture and Identity Within Mayan Weaves”
“Property Values: Land, Community, and the Geography Ethics of Ownership”


Asma Abbas, Nancy Bonvillain, Kathryn Boswell,
Christopher Coggins, Francisca Oyogoa, Donald Roeder,
Nancy Yanoshak
Faculty Contact: Christopher Coggins