Department of Geography



Lawrence E. Band (21) Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor. Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Hydroecology, Geomorphology

Stephen S. Birdsall (5) Cultural Landscapes, North America

Michael Emch (29) Medical Geography, Spatial Epidemiology, Health and Environment, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing

John Pickles (26) Earl N. Phillips Distinguished Chair of International Studies. International Studies, Regional Development, Geographic Thought, Political Economy

Conghe Song (24) GIS, Remote Sensing, Earth Systems Science

Stephen J. Walsh (12) Lyle V. Jones Distinguished Professor. Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Physical

Associate Professors

Altha J. Cravey (17) Latin America, Social

Banu Gökariksel (28) Urban, Cultural, and Feminist Geography; Social Theory; Globalization and Modernity; the Middle East and Southeast Asia

Charles E. Konrad (16) Synoptic Climatology and Meteorology

Scott L. Kirsch (23) Historical, Cultural, and Political Geography; Science & Technology Studies

Nina Martin (31) Urban, Economic and Migration Geography, Globalization and Urban Change, Urban Planning and Policy, Civil Society

Aaron Moody (18) Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Biogeography

Elizabeth Olson (41) Development and Inequality, Religion, Global Studies, Moral Geographies

Sara Smith (33) Political and Social Geography, Nationalism, Health, South Asia

Gabriela Valdivia (32) Political Ecology and Resource Geography, Extractive Economies, Indigenous Communities, Latin America

Assistant Professors

Xiaodong Chen (38) Human-Environment Interactions, Systems Modeling and Simulation, Environmental Policy, GIS, China

Clark Gray (35) Population, Environment and Development; Survey and Statistical Methods

Elizabeth Havice (36) Political Economy and Ecology, International Development, Commodity Studies, Environmental Politics, Trade Politics, Fisheries Systems

Christian Lentz (39) Development, State Formation, Nationalism, Nature-Society Relations, Agrarian Studies, Southeast Asia

Lauren Persha (40) Conservation and Development, Social-Ecological Systems, Institutional Analysis, Environmental Governance, Forest Ecology, Political Ecology, East Africa

Alvaro Reyes (37) Urban and Political Geography, Regimes of Racialization and Socio-Territorial Movements in the Americas, and Critical Theory

Diego Riveros-Iregui (42) Ecohydrology, watershed hydrology, biogeochemistry, land-atmospheree interactions, tropical hydrology, climate and land use cover change

Erika Wise (34) Dendrochronology, Climatology, Water Resources

Adjunct Faculty

Neel Ahuja (English and Comparative Literature) Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, South Asia, the Carribean

Richard Bilsborrow (Biostatistics), Demography, Development and the Environment, Environment and Society, Research Methods

Barbara Entwistle (Sociology), Social Demography, Methods of Social Research, Population and Environment

Arturo Escobar (Anthropology), Ecological Anthropology, Social Movements, Political Ecology, Latin America, Complexity

Lawrence Grossberg (Communications Studies), Cultural Studies, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy, Popular Music (Rock Culture) and Popular Culture, Contemporary Political Culture of the United States

Ken Hillis (Communication Studies), Media and Technology Studies, Communication Technologies, Virtual Geographies

James Johnson (Kenan-Flagler School of Business), Community and Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Urban Poverty and Public Policy

Carlos Mena (Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador) GIS, Latin America, Population Environment, Remote Sensing, Dynamic Modeling

Tamlin Pavelsky (Geological Sciences) Hydrology, Remote Sensing, Climate Change

Diego Quiroga (Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador) Environmental Life and Sciences

Elizabeth Shapiro (Duke University) Market-based Environmental Initiatives and Policies in Latin America

Andres Vina (Michigan State University) Environmental Change, Biophysical Properties of Vegetation, Human-Environment Interactions

Professors Emeriti

John W. Florin

Wilbert M. Gesler

Richard J. Kopec

Peter J. Robinson

Thomas M. Whitmore

The Department of Geography offers advanced work leading to the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are offered, but the major emphasis of the program is on the Ph.D., even for those not yet possessing an M.A. Incoming students are roughly evenly mixed between those with and without a master's degree.

The Department of Geography has faculty strength in five overlapping areas of concentration. These represent coherent foci and areas of active faculty research – not mutually exclusive categories. Indeed, many students and faculty work on projects that span more than one area. So, while intensive training is offered in a number of diverse areas, the program is noted for its integrative and cross-cutting approaches. The department's diverse graduate students are pursuing a wide variety of research at UNC–Chapel Hill.

Departmental research specializations include:

Biophysical Geography and Earth Systems Science. UNC–Chapel Hill geographers examine the biophysical environment as an integrated system, emphasizing the linkages and feedbacks between terrestrial and atmospheric form and function. The focus is on the interactions between the structure and composition of the earth's surface, its soils and vegetation, and the atmosphere with those processes that actively cycle energy and material through them.

Culture, Society, and Space. UNC–Chapel Hill geographers investigate the intersection of space, place, landscape, and region with social and cultural processes, including issues of identity and representation, spatio-temporalities of social belonging and exclusion, and the production and circulation of value and values. This work encompasses a diversity of methodological approaches, scales, and concerns, from urban dynamics and symbolic spaces to rural landscapes, agrarian and industrial change, and social geographies of race, class, gender, health, and religion.

Geographic Information and Analysis. UNC–Chapel Hill geographers apply geographic information sciences as an integrated set of spatial digital technologies to investigate biophysical and social phenomena. They use and develop tools, techniques, concepts, and data sets associated with geographic information systems, remote sensing, data visualization, global positioning systems, spatial analysis, and quantitative methods.

Globalization and International Development. UNC–Chapel Hill geographers study the consequences of processes of globalization (and the anti-globalization and global justice movements they stimulate); international development and its effects on the geographies of international and local capital, labor, technology, information, goods and services; post-socialism, political economy, political geography and geopolitics, and political ecology.

Nature-Society Studies and Human-Environment Interactions. Drawing on analytical and theoretical perspectives from ecology, socio-ecological systems, political ecology, science studies, and cultural studies, UNC–Chapel Hill geographers investigate the social contexts, drivers, and consequences of environmental change and struggles over land use and resources.

Graduate students in the department participate in departmental governance activities and maintain their own organization, the Graduate Association of Geography Students (GAGS). UNC–Chapel Hill professional and graduate students also have an active campus-wide organization. Graduate students have access to extensive research and computing facilities within the department and across campus, and many of our students are involved in specialized departmental research groups. Students and faculty have strong ties to other departments and research centers at UNC–Chapel Hill, including the Carolina Population Center, the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, the Institute for the Study of the Americas (UNC–Chapel Hill and Duke University), the Center for the Study of the South, the Sheps Center for Health Services Research, the Curriculum in Ecology, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, the Carolina Environmental Program and UNC–Chapel Hill's schools of public health and medicine. There are also opportunities for course work and research associated with nearby Duke University and North Carolina State University. Many students also take advantage of the government and private research facilities in Research Triangle Park.

Incoming graduate students are required to complete three core courses (GEOG 702, 703, and 704) presenting the foundations of geographical theory, communication, and research. Thereafter the program of study is flexible and tailored to the needs of the individual student. Students select the appropriate course work and dissertation topic in consultation with their advisor and research committee.

A large proportion of graduate students receive financial assistance. Sources of aid include teaching assistantships and work on sponsored research projects within the department, University-wide competitive assistantships, non-service fellowships and merit scholarships, and externally awarded fellowships.

The department occupies the top two floors of Saunders Hall and has access to extensive computational laboratories needed to fulfill its research and teaching mission, with specialized facilities dedicated to spatial analysis and the use of geographic information systems. A wide range of geographic data sets are readily available. An extensive collection of geographic books and periodicals, including an exceptionally strong collection of foreign periodicals, is held in the nearby Davis Library, while Wilson Library houses a large map library.

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


406 Atmospheric Processes II (ENEC 406) (4). See ENEC 406 for description.

410 Modeling of Environmental Systems (3). Uses systems theory and computer models to understand ecosystem energy and matter flows, such as energy flow in food webs, terrestrial ecosystem evapotranspiration and productivity, related to climate, vegetation, soils, and hydrology across a range of spatial and temporal scales.

412 Synoptic Meteorology (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 110 or 111. An analysis of synoptic weather patterns and the processes responsible for them. Climatological aspects of these weather patterns are emphasized. (EES)

414 Climate Change (3). An investigation of the physical processes that produce and change climates across space and time. Emphasis is placed on recent and predicted patterns of climate change.

416 Applied Climatology: The Impacts of Climate and Weather on Environmental and Social Systems (3). Applied climatology involves the interdisciplinary application of climate data and techniques to solve a wide range of societal and environmental problems. This projects-based course investigates how climate impacts a range of sectors, including water resources, urban environments, ecosystems, and human health.

419 Field Methods in Physical Geography (3). Involves evaluation of landscapes by examining nature and biophysical elements influencing landscape form and function. Course emphasizes data collection, analysis, and interpretation using GIS and field methods. (EES)

423 Social Geography (3). A study of the spatial components of current social problems, such as poverty, race relations, environmental deterioration and pollution, and crime. (GHA)

424 Geographies of Religion (3). This course considers the theoretical and empirical dimensions of religion from a geographical perspective. The course introduces the key theories linking space, place, and religion and helps students apply these new theoretical tools to examine some of the pressing issues in the contemporary study of religion.

428 Urban Social Geography (3). Studies the changing landscapes of contemporary urbanism. Emphasis on patterns of economic development, housing, and infrastructure in cities in a global context. (GHA)

429 Urban Political Geography: Contested Places and Politics (3). An interdisciplinary exploration of urban social problems, bridging the literature on urban geography with that on urban politics. Students will be required to complete 30 hours of service for an organization that works on an urban social issue.

430 Global Migrations, Local Impacts: Urbanization and Migration in the United States (3). This course explores the relationship between patterns of urban development in the United States and migration, in both historical and contemporary contexts.

434 Cultural Ecology of Agriculture, Urbanization, and Disease (3). Examines the role of the interactions of cultures, environments, and human diseases in the quest for sustainable agriculture by examining the cultural ecology of agriculture systems and their human diseases. (GHA)

435 Environmental Politics (3). This course brings geographical perspectives on place, space, scale, and environmental change to the study of environmental politics. In lectures, texts, and student research, students examine topics including environmental health risks, globalization and urban environments, and the role of science in environmental politics. (GHA)

436 Governance, Institutions, and Global Environmental Change (3). Interdisciplinary course for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Focuses on multiscale environmental issues and related social, institutional, governance, and policy challenges. Examines key concepts and theories involving global environmental change and problem-solving efforts.

440 Earth Surface Processes (GEOL 502) (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 110. This course will focus on the processes of soil formation, erosion, and landform evolution with an emphasis on the interaction of geomorphic processes with surface hydrology and ecosystems. (EES)

441 Introduction to Watershed Systems (3). Prerequisite, ENEC 202, GEOG 110, or GEOL 213. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Introduction to hydrologic and geomorphic processes and forms in watersheds as applied to problems in flood analysis, water quality, and interactions with ecosystem processes. Covers drainage networks, nested catchments, and distribution and controls of precipitation, evaporation, runoff, and groundwater flow. (EES)

442 River Processes (3). Introduction to landforms and processes associated with flowing water at the earth's surface. Hydrology, sedimentology, and theories of channel formation and drainage basin evolution. (ESS)

444 Landscape Biogeography (3). This course is concerned with the application of biogeographical principles and techniques to the study of natural and human-modified landscapes. It includes local and extraregional case studies. (EES)

445 Medical Geography (3). The human ecology of health is studied by analyzing the cultural/environmental interactions that lie behind world patterns of disease distribution, diffusion, and treatment, and the ways these are being altered by development. (GHA)

446 Geography of Health Care Delivery (3). This course covers basics, including personnel and facility distributions, accessibility, regionalization, and location/allocation modeling; spatial analysis and GIS; and the cultural geography of health care, including humanist and political-economic perspectives. (GHA)

447 Gender, Space, and Place in the Middle East (ASIA 447, WMST 447) (3). Examines gender, space, and place relationships in the modern Middle East. Investigates shifting gender geographies of colonialism, nationalism, modernization, and globalization in this region. (GHA)

448 Transnational Geographies of Muslim Societies (3). Examines modern Muslim geographies that are created by transnational flows, connections, and imaginaries that cross national and regional boundaries across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and beyond.

450 Population, Development, and the Environment (3). Introduction to contemporary and historical changes in human population, international development, and the global environment and how these processes interact, drawing on population geography as an organizing framework.

452 Mobile Geographies: The Political Economy of Migration (3). This course explores the contemporary experience of migrants. Various theoretical approaches are introduced, with the emphasis on a political-economic approach. (GHA)

453 Political Geography (PWAD 453) (3). The geography of politics is explored at the global, the nation-state, and the local scale in separate course units, but the interconnections between these geographical scales are emphasized throughout. (GHA)

454 Historical Geography of the United States (FOLK 454) (3). A study of selected past geographies of the United States with emphasis on the significant geographic changes in population, cultural, and economic conditions through time. (GHA)

457 Rural Latin America: Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 259. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. This course explores a systems and cultural-ecological view of agriculture, environment, natural resource, and rural development issues in Latin America. It serves as a complement to GEOG 458 Urban Latin America. (Regional)

458 Urban Latin America: Politics, Economy, and Society (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 259. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. This course examines urban social issues in contemporary Latin America. Cities and their residents will be considered in relation to each other and to North American examples. (Regional)

460 Geographies of Economic Change (3). This course is designed to explore changing geographies of production and consumption in theory and in practice.

464 Europe Today: Transnationalism, Globalisms, and the Geographies of Pan-Europe (3). A survey by topic and country of Europe west of Russia. Those features that make Europe a distinct and important region today are emphasized. (Regional)

470 Political Ecology: Geographical Perspectives (3). Examines foundational concepts and methods and their relevance for understanding nature-society relationships. Discussions on environmental change and conflict and how nature is bound up with relations of power and constructions of identity.

477 Introduction to Remote Sensing of the Environment (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 370. Covers fundamental theory and mechanics of remote sensing, related theoretical aspects of radiation and the environment, and remote-sensing applications relating to terrestrial, atmospheric, and marine environments. Hands-on experience for application and information extraction from satellite-based imagery through biweekly laboratory assignments. Prepares students for GEOG 577. (GISci)

480 Liberation Geographies: The Place, Politics, and Practice of Resistance (3). An examination of the theory and history of resistance in the modern world, including instances of contestation from "foot dragging" to the formation of social movements, and exploring the relationship between place and protest.

481 Ethnographies of Globalization: An Upper-Level Research Design Class (3). Examines critical perspectives on globalization through research interviews conducted by social scientists working on topics ranging from land reform in Brazil to international banking.

491 Introduction to GIS (PLAN 491) (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 370. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Stresses the spatial analysis and modeling capabilities of organizing data within a geographic information system. (GISci)

541 GIS in Public Health (3). Explores theory and application of geographic information systems (GIS) for public health. The course includes an overview of the principles of GIS in public health and practical experience in its use. (GISci)

542 Neighborhoods and Health (3). This course explores how neighborhood context influences the health of the populations living in them. It includes a survey of neighborhoods and health theory and empirical examples. (GHA)

543 Qualitative Methods in Geography (3). This course teaches qualitative methods in geography for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. We will cover interviews, focus groups, visual, and other methodologies. We will also discuss modes of analysis, coding, and writing up qualitative research for publication.

577 Advanced Remote Sensing (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 370 or 477. Acquisition, processing, and analysis of satellite digital data for the mapping and characterization of land cover types. (GISci)

591 Applied Issues in Geographic Information Systems (PLAN 591) (3). See PLAN 591 for description.

592 Geographic Information Science Programming (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 370 or 491. This course will teach students the elements of GISci software development using major GIS platforms. Students will modularly build a series of applications through the term, culminating in an integrated GIS applications program.

594 Global Positioning Systems and Applications (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 370. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) fundamental theory, application design, post processing, integration of GPS data into GIS and GPS application examples (such as public health, business, etc.) will be introduced.

597 Ecological Modeling (3). Prerequisite, BIOL 561 or STOR 355. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. This course focuses on modeling the terrestrial forest ecosystems processes, including population dynamics, energy, water, nutrients, and carbon flow through the ecosystem. (GISci)

650 Technology and Democracy Workshop (3). Are technological choices open to democratic participation? Through a novel research workshop format, this graduate and undergraduate course explores political and geographical dimensions of technological change around key environmental issues–energy, water, and waste.

691H Honors (3). Permission of the department. Required of all students aspiring to honors in geography. Directed readings, research, and writing.

692H Honors (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 691H. Required of all students aspiring to honors in geography. Preparation of a senior thesis.

697 Capstone Seminar in Geographic Research (3). A systematic study of the approaches, key concepts, and methods of geography, emphasizing the application of these approaches through hands-on independent research designed and implemented by the students. (Core)

Courses for Graduate Students


702 Contemporary Geographic Thought (3). History and philosophy of the geographic discipline, with particular emphasis on developments in recent decades.

703 Geographic Research Design (3). Introduction to the theory and practice of geographic research. The range of methods available for problem identification and solution are considered through development of specific research proposals.

704 Communicating Geography (3). Seminar introduces new students to current geographic sub-disciplines, faculty research interests and areas of expertise within the Department, and university resources. In this required core course in Geography's graduate curriculum, students also engage with issues of communication, professionalization, and career development in Geography and related fields.

705 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Geography (3). Application of selected multivariate statistical techniques to the analysis of geographic phenomena and problems.

710 Advanced Physical Geography–Biogeoscience (3). Examination of the major processes controlling environmental cycling of material and energy at the landscape level, and development of a quantitative understanding of the physical and ecosystem processes responsible for landscape pattern and evolution.

711 Advanced Physical Geography–Hydroclimatology and Bioclimatology (3). Examination of topics focused on the atmospheric and the vegetation and land surface parts of the hydrologic cycle at the micro to global spatial scale and short-term to millennial temporal scale.

715 Land Use/Land Cover Dynamics and Human-Environment Interaction (3). Examination of topics that integrate social, natural, and spatial sciences within the context of human-environment interactions, with an emphasis on landuse/landcover dynamics and spatial digital technologies for linking landscape form and function.

720 Cultural and Political Ecology (3). This course examines the foundations and current literature on cultural and political ecology. Focus is given to the appropriation of "Nature," degradation and deforestation, conservation, famine, postcolonial peasants, resistance, Indigeneit, and property, land distribution, and governmentality.

760 Geographies of Economic Change (3). This course is designed to explore changing geographies of production and consumption in theory and practice.

790 Spatial Analysis and Computer Modeling (3). This course introduces students to spatial analysis techniques involving points, lines, areas, surfaces, and nonmetric spaces, as well as programming basic geographic models on microcomputers.

801 Research Seminar in Earth System Science and Biophysical Geography (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary faculty research topics in earth system science and biophysical geography. Topics and instructors vary.

802 Research Seminar in Geographic Information Sciences (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary faculty research topics in geographic information sciences. Topics and instructors vary.

803 Research Seminar in Nature-Society Studies and Human-Environment Interactions (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary faculty research topics in nature-society studies and human-environment interactions. Topics and instructors vary.

804 Research Seminar in Social Geography (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary faculty research topics in social geography. Topics and instructors vary.

805 Research Seminar in International Area Studies, Development, and Globalization (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary faculty research topics in international area studies, development, and globalization. Topics and instructors vary.

811 Seminar/Readings in Earth System Science and Biophysical Geography (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary readings in earth system science and biophysical geography. Topics and instructors vary.

812 Seminar/Readings in Geographic Information Sciences (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary readings in geographic information sciences. Topics and instructors vary.

813 Seminar/Readings in Nature-Society Studies and Human-Environment Interactions (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary readings in nature-society studies and human-environment interactions. Topics and instructors vary.

814 Seminar/Readings in Social Geography (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary readings in social geography. Topics and instructors vary.

815 Seminar/Readings in International Area Studies, Development, and Globalization (3). An in-depth seminar devoted to contemporary readings in international area studies, development, and globalization. Topics and instructors vary.

900 Special Work in Geography (1–21). Required preparation, two courses in the one hundred bracket or permission of the instructor.

993 Master's Research and Thesis (3).

994 Doctoral Research and Dissertation (3).