The physical environment is modified by human activities, largely as a consequence of the ways in which societies value and use earth’s natural resources, but human activities and distributions are, in turn, influenced by earth’s physical features and processes. These themes are addressed by examining the geography of environmental impacts such as tropical deforestation, global climate change, energy development, urban growth, and agricultural land use. Also considered are natural hazards such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and flooding.
Examines the elements of weather and climate on earth. The location and causes of global climatic regions are examined in relation to moving pres- sure and wind systems. Also considers the climatic history of the planet and recent human modifications of the atmospheric environment.
Focuses on surface and groundwater as a resource with unique properties. Fresh water is defined physically by storage in the hydrologic cycle and the values assigned by different cultures. Problems featured relate to consumptive and withdrawal water uses, the problems of water supply and scarcity, water law and its inconsistencies, flooding and floodplain manage- ment, sources of contamination and pollution, wetlands, and case studies of selected river basins
Examines the distribution of plants and animals across the earth’s surface, as influenced by natural and human processes. Emphasizes landscape and regional habitat dynamics as they relate to environmental planning and management. Field trips supplement lectures and readings
Problems of exploitation and utilization of regional resources such as soils, minerals, forests, and wildlife are considered in relation to population growth and regional planning and development.
Special Topics – Field Study in India course is offered as a Study Abroad course, where students are exposed to socio-economic, cultural, environmental, and urban and planning scenarios in the fast-growing cities of India. In the past, students and faculty-members have travelled to Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, and Darjeeling to explore issues of slums and informal settlements, degrading wetland areas due to urban encroachment and pollution, transformation of ethnic enclaves, environmental and socio-economic conditions in tea-gardens. In addition to literature review and secondary information, students mostly collect data through visual observations and GPS surveys during field trips to study these topics and analyze key challenges.
Elements and techniques of scientific research, as applied to geographic and planning problems, are studied. A research proposal is developed.
Concerned with science as a way of knowing about the world. Focuses on what scientists have learned about what it means to be human, how humans have been shaped by and, in turn, have influenced their environment, and what use might be made of scientific knowledge. These themes are explored from disciplines in the natural and social sciences.