Skip to main content



The Department of Environment and Society

Geography is the study of the relationships between human society and the physical environment. Geography involves everything from environmental studies and human impact on the environment to the availability and location of the earth's resources to the physical processes that occur at the earth's surface and the spatial interactions among society and the physical environment.

There are two areas of emphasis offered as majors:

Geographic Information Science Emphasis

The GIS emphasis combines a focus on geospatial science and technology with conceptual knowledge about geographical problem solving and spatial thinking. The curriculum emphasizes techniques for spatial analysis of vector and raster data, analysis of remote sensing data, modeling and programming, and mapping using GIS software tools. This emphasis provides students with necessary knowledge and skills for careers in the growing geographic information science and technology field.

Human-Environment Emphasis

The human-environment geography emphasis combines the conceptual exploration of geographical approaches to understanding the human-environment relationship with tools for problem solving and spatial thinking, including in the geographic information sciences. The curriculum emphasizes hazards geography, environmental history, political ecology, and land change science. This emphasis provides students with the ability to bridge effectively the social and biophysical sciences and engage in a broad variety of international and environmental careers.

View GIS Emphasis Degree Program in the USU General Catalog

View Human-Environment Emphasis Degree Program in the USU General Catalog


What is Geography?

Geography is the science of place: where things are located on the Earth and why, how places differ, and how humans shape and are affected by the Earth. Geographers use tools such as computer mapping and modeling to better understand these relationships in a rapidly changing world.

These skills can be applied to almost all fields, including social sciences, natural resources disciplines such as range, forestry, fisheries, watershed protection and restoration and urban planning.

What type of students study Geography?

Students who …

  • Want to use computer technology to help solve natural resource problems.
  • Are curious about the world and its cultures.
  • Want to teach.
  • Are concerned about worldwide problems, ranging from hunger and poverty to global warming.
  • Want to prepare for graduate study, law school or an MBA.

What do Geography majors study?

Students study both physical and human geography at different scales. They learn the important skills and tools of geography such as mapping, remote sensing, geographic information systems, but also explore the cultural and human elements of societies.

The Geography Teaching minor certifies a graduate for teaching geography in Utah at a secondary school level. These students develop geography teaching methods in addition to secondary education practicum and theory courses.

What type of jobs do graduates get?

  • Working for federal agencies such as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the US Geological Survey, the CIA, or the Department of State, and careers in the military.
  • Working in the private sector (transportation, utility, real estate, or marketing companies)
  • Working for state agencies including those dealing with agriculture and natural resources, the Department of Environmental Quality, planning, the Governor’s office,
  • Working in city and county planning
  • Teaching in high schools

Where are our graduates now?

  • Doctoral student, soil science (Class of 2007)
  • Graduate student, bioregional planning (Class of 2011)
  • Junior high school teacher, Granite School District (Class of 2008)
  • Medical student (Class of 2010)
  • Research scientist, Michigan Tech University (Class of 2007)
Melanie Conrad


Melanie Conrad

NR 122

Melanie brings her experience in academic advising, and her love for students to help them succeed in their education and future careers.

  • Semester-by-semester planning
  • Connecting with clubs
  • Changing your major
  • Academic success resources


Emily Burchfield


Dr. Mariya Shcheglovitova

Human-Environment Emphasis Directory Listing
  • Career planning
  • Graduate school planning
  • Undergraduate research opportunities
  • Selecting degree program electives

Claudia Radel

Dr. Peter Howe

GIS Emphasis

NR 218
435.797.9475 Directory Listing
  • Career planning
  • Graduate school planning
  • Undergraduate research opportunities
  • Selecting degree program electives