WELCOME from Dr. Daniel W. Harris Chair, Geography and Geosciences
Discover the Department of Geography and Geosciences at Salisbury University
I invite you to discover Geography, Geosciences and Urban and Regional Planning at Salisbury University. Our department offers majors in geography, earth science and urban and regional planning. Prospective geography majors, earth science majors and planning majors usually have three questions. What are geography, earth science and urban and regional planning? What is the course of study for geography/earth science/planning majors? Finally, what can you do with a Bachelor of Science in geography, earth science and/or urban and regional planning?
What is Geography?
Geography traditionally emphasizes the "where". Geographers study the nature and character of places to further an understanding of the world by examining the interactions between the economic, cultural, and the physical environment of a place. Because geography stresses the "where", all geographers take courses in map making and spatial analysis. Modern mapping or Geographic Information Science is computer-based so most majors also develop a computer competency.
What is Earth Science?
Earth science seeks to understand the complex processes operating within the earth-atmosphere system and to apply knowledge of these processes to improve the quality of human life. Earth scientists complete coursework in a variety of geoscience disciplines including geology, hydrology, oceanography and environmental science as well as classes focusing on analytic techniques including statistics and Geographic Information Science (GIS).
What is Urban and Regional Planning?
Planners use their expertise to find creative ways to resolve urban and regional problems, establish sustainable communities, and improve the quality of life. They help communities develop their visions of the future, and formulate plans that respond to community needs and aspirations, conserve natural resources, improve public services and facilities, and manage urban development. Planners are specialized in land use, environmental protection, economic development, transportation, or community development.
What is the course of study in the Geography Major?
Geography programs vary greatly from university to university. Our major is divided into five tracks. All majors complete a set of core courses that provide a foundation for choosing a track. The atmospheric science track involves taking advanced courses in atmospheric science such as meteorology or climatology. Our geographic information sciences track is designed for students whose emphasis is on mapping sciences. The human geography track examines the interactions of social systems including economics, politics, and development. The physical geography track examines a range of geosciences including climate, soils and geomorphology. The fifth track is a general track in which the student selects advanced geography and geosciences coursework based on their particular interests. Many geography majors are able to complete more than one track in support of their career objectives.
What can you do with a B.S. in Geography?
The diversity of geography-related professions is stunning. Our graduates work for the CIA, EPA, National Park Service, US Geological Survey and more. They are Department of Natural Resources Police, who patrol the Chesapeake Bay; computer cartographers and geographic information system managers for the U.S. Census Bureau and Geospatial Intelligence, private consultants, NYC real estate developers and several can be seen forecasting the weather on television.
What is the course of study in the Earth Science Major?
Our earth science program focuses on providing students with a broad background in the geosciences and its application to solving environmental problems and mitigating natural hazards. Thus, students complete courses in geology, weather and climate, map interpretation, geographic information science, statistics, chemistry and physics. One key feature of our coursework in the Earth Science degree is our commitment to field work and experiential studies. Many of the core and elective courses in the earth science program include class field trips and intensive, hands-on lab activities. The coursework required for this degree provides a solid undergraduate knowledge base which serves as a strong foundation for students continuing on to graduate studies or onto a career in the geosciences. The earth science program has three tracks. For those students who wish to have maximum flexibility, there is the general track in earth science. For those students who wish to pursue professional careers in geology, we strongly recommend the geoenvironmental track. We also support an earth science secondary education track for those interested in teaching at the middle or high school level. Download the checklists here.
What can you do with a B.S. in Earth Science?
There are a number of different career paths available to earth science majors. Earth science majors work in natural resources (oil, gas, coal, minerals, construction aggregate, water, soil) exploration and development, preservation of the natural environment, restoration from environmental damage, and the mitigation of geohazards such as earthquakes and landslides. Our graduates continue their education in graduate school, work for environmental consulting and engineering firms, and teach in the Maryland public education system.
Dual Major in Geography and Earth Science
Some students are able to complete dual majors in geography and earth science. Students can discuss the possibility with their advisor.
What is the course of study in the Urban and Regional Planning Major?
The urban and regional planning program (URPL) prepares students to compete for professional planning jobs and to pursue graduate education. The multidisciplinary orientation of the URPL program provides students with an in-depth understanding of complex urban and regional issues, as well as knowledge of related fields. Core coursework in the program provides a solid foundation in planning principles, models, and techniques that professional planners use to serve their communities, and create sustainable development. It is supplemented by courses in regional geography, economics, quantitative analysis and geographic information science. Beyond core coursework, planning students choose between two tracks, Land Use Planning or Environmental Planning, both of which are in demand in the State of Maryland and nationwide. The Land Use Planning track focuses on applied planning concepts, tools, and techniques to manage urban development, while the Environmental Planning track integrates conservation and resource management with courses examining physical processes in the environment, for example soil and water, and political science classes examining environmental policy and law. Students are strongly encouraged to minor in areas related to Urban and Regional Planning such as Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution, Environmental Studies, Economics, Geography, Geographic Information Science, History, or Political Science.
What can you do with a B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning?
There is a growing need for professional planners, with both the U.S. and Maryland Departments of Labor prediciting increases in urban planning jobs in the next 5-10 years. Our alumni are employed in state and local governments, and work with private and nonprofit organizations. A significant portion of our alumni have attended graduate schools. Planners with a Bachelor's degree can qualify for positions as assistant or junior planners. The American Planning Association indicates that a Bachelor's degree in urban planning in addition to one year of planning experience is required for Planner I or Assistant Planner positions, while candidates with a Bachelor's degree and four years of professional planning experience can be accepted for the Planner II level, and those with a Bachelor's degree in planning and six years of professional planning experience can be hired as a Planner III, or Senior Planner.
Visit Salisbury University's Career Services Web Site for employment support in geography.
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