http://www.uwplatt.edu/geography

Department Chair: Todd Stradford
Office: 262 Gardner Hall
Phone: 608.342.1674
E-mail: stradfot@uwplatt.edu

Geography is the study of the Earth: its physical processes, peoples, societies, and cultures. Geography is a “big picture” discipline that serves as an important connection among the social, physical, and mathematical sciences, as well as humanities. It incorporates aspects of many other fields such as geology, history, biology, and anthropology. Given this, geographers are ideally suited to address some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as addressing global climate change, assessing the impacts of social policies, mediating debates over land use and sustainable development, and assessing the interactions between nature and society.

The Department of Geography offers a major and minor in geography, minors in GIS and environmental science. Geography students explore the human and natural world through classroom,  laboratory,  and  field  experiences,  as  well  as  through individual research, internships, and attendance at professional meetings. They learn to use modern computer equipment and the latest software and databases. The geography student is creative, enjoys challenges, can learn through observation and research, and enjoys the satisfaction of improving global conditions.  In addition, the Department of Geography offers courses in geology.

A major in geography offers broad training in physical and human environments, on the major world regions, nature and society interactions, and geographic techniques. Upon graduation, geographers have diverse knowledge applicable to a wide range of careers. The largest employers of geographers with bachelor’s degrees are federal, state, and local governmental agencies, as well as educational systems. Geography offers important skills for careers in planning, market analysis, economic development, travel-tourism, teaching, criminal justice, agriculture, environmental studies, natural resource management, international affairs, spatial data analysis, cartography, and geographic information systems.

Mission Statement

The goal of this major is to train students to analyze global issues like a geographer, that is, to take the physical processes and/or human interactions of the Earth and integrate them over space and time. Geography will prepare students to use knowledge about global, physical, and human patterns and process them to critically analyze and solve current geographical issues, including global warming, conservation, globalization, terrorism, and technology advances. This program fosters scientific, cultural, and technological literacies that will prepare geography students to think and act with professional, personal, civic, and social responsibility in the 21st century.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will:

  1. Recognize the unique subject and methods of geography and be able to use geographical concepts contributing to the solution of societal and environmental problems
  2. Understand the processes and patterns of the physical world and how human actions impact and interact with natural systems
  3. Develop a perspective that allows them to understand spatial variation and diversity on global, regional, and local scales
  4. Have the skills to read, interpret, use, and make maps and be able to solve and communicate spatial problems using geographic technologies
  5. Have the ability to conduct, process, prepare, and present empirical geographic research at a fundamental level
  6. Have knowledge of the potential career opportunities for geographers

General Requirements

Bachelor of Science Degree

Total for graduation120
General education44-58
Major studies37-43

Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.50 within the major studies for graduation.

GEOGRPHY 1040 Planet Earth 4 Credits

The features of the natural environment (lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere); their character, distribution, origin and relationship with human beings. Principles of environmental conservation are also included. A field trip is required. Not open to students who have had GEOGRPHY 1140 or GEOGRPHY 1240.
Components: Laboratory, Class
GE: Natural Science
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 1050 Introduction to Human Geography 3 Credits

An introduction to the global distribution of human characteristics. Topics will include population, cultural, agricultural, industrial, economic, political, urban, linguistic and religious geographies. The character, distribution, and origin of these geographies will be examined along with their relationship to each other and the physical environment.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 1140 Global Landforms 4 Credits

This course is the study of the distribution of landforms across the globe, with consideration of the processes and historical factors that determine these patterns. Lab techniques will include map basics, regional landscapes and field techniques. Field trips are required.
Components: Laboratory, Class
GE: Natural Science
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 1230 Survey of Cultural Geography 3 Credits

An introduction to the culture of peoples, with a focus on the constructing of culture and the primary components of culture: ethnicity, language, religion, and popular culture. The course concentrates on cross-cultural comparisons in an attempt to broadly describe cultures from around the world.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 1240 Weather and Climate 4 Credits

Elements and controls of weather and climate; origin, characteristics and distribution of climate and vegetation.
Components: Laboratory, Class
GE: Natural Science
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 1330 World Regional Geography 3 Credits

Geographic understanding of the major regions of the world; emphasis is placed upon human-environmental relationships.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 1370 Global Vegetation 4 Credits

This course is a survey of the geographical distribution of vegetation types and habitats, with consideration of the environmental and historical factors that determine these patterns. Field and Lab techniques will be introduced.
Components: Laboratory, Class
GE: Natural Science
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 2230 Geographic Information Systems: Thematic Mapping 3 Credits

Designing and creating geographic and attribute computer databases for the production of maps, including projections, methods of data reduction, and symbologies.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Typically Offered: Fall

GEOGRPHY 3040 Python for GIS 3 Credits

This course will introduce Python within the context of ArcGIS, starting with the basics and foundations of Python then working up to creating tools and tasks within Python for ArcGIS. Knowledge of Python can enhance the GIS experience and make available tools and processes not accessible through ArcGIS desktop. A working knowledge of Python will make produce a more efficient GIS user and a more attractive job candidate. No previous programming experience is assumed, but knowledge of ArcGIS is critical.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 3230 or equivalent
Typically Offered: EVERY/3RD

GEOGRPHY 3120 Geography of Wisconsin 3 Credits

A regional approach to the cultural, economic and physical geography of Wisconsin.
Components: Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 1040 or GEOGRPHY 1140 or GEOLOGY 1040 or GEOLOGY 1140
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 3130 Geography of the United States and Canada 3 Credits

A regional approach to the cultural, economic and physical geography of the United States and Canada.
Components: Class
GE: Social Sciences
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 1230 or GEOGRPHY 1330 or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 3170 Space, Place, and Gender 3 Credits

An introduction to gender and geography. The role of gender in the study of geography, which is concerned with places, linkages, patterns of flow, locations, landscape, and the social/political/economic production of space.
Components: Discussion, Class
Cross Offering: WOMGENDR 3170
GE: Gender Studies
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 3230 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 3 Credits

An introduction to core GIS concepts including map projections and coordinate systems, raster and vector data models, digital data sources, digitizing, map design and production, attribute data, data manipulation, and fundamental spatial analysis.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Typically Offered: Spring

GEOGRPHY 3330 Environmental Conservation 3 Credits

The relationship of humans and the natural environment. Topics include environmental world views, the effects of eco system disruption, and use and misuse of natural resources.
Components: Class
GE: Social Sciences
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: Junior standing or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 3340 Biogeography 4 Credits

This course examines Earths biosphere, which extends from the seafloor, to about 5 miles into the atmosphere. Students will study the biosphere, the distribution of biota worldwide, both past and present, and the factors that determine these patterns. Topics discussed include evolution, extinction, dispersal, altitudinal zonation, zoogeographic provinces, regional climate, vegetation structure, ecological succession, species richness, global climate change, biomes, and island biogeography.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 1040 or GEOGRPHY 1370 or BIOLOGY 1150 or BIOLOGY 1650 or BIOLOGY 1750 or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Spring

GEOGRPHY 3520 Remote Sensing of the Environment 3 Credits

Introduction to the study of the environment through air photos and satellite imagery. Topics covered includes the principles of remote sensing, interactions of the electromagnetic spectrum with the atmosphere and earths surface, aerial photographs, satellite systems, and senors. The emphasis is on applications to climate change, landcover mapping, forestry, agriculture, and oceanography.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Typically Offered: Fall

GEOGRPHY 3530 Topics in Regional Geography 2-3 Credits

Selected world regions are studied in a traditional regional or topical format.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 3630 Geography of Latin America 3 Credits

The geographic region of Latin America is comprehensively studied, both regionally and topically. Topics include those from both physical and human geography.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: a 1000-level course in geography or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 3720 Advanced Remote Sensing 3 Credits

This course focuses on the theory and techniques of digital image processing (DIP) using current remote sensing techniques. The course will emphasize radiometric and atmospheric corrections, image enhancement, and pattern recognition via classification.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 3520
Typically Offered: Spring

GEOGRPHY 3730 Geography of Europe 3 Credits

The geographic region of Europe, including Russia, the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, is comprehensively studied, both regionally and topically. Topics include those from both physical and human geography.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: a 1000-level course in geography or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 3750 Field Geography of the Western United States 1-4 Credits

This course is built around an extended field experience in selected regions of the western United Sates. Topics for study will include physical, human, and environmental geography.
Components: Discussion, Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: a previous course in geography or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Summer

GEOGRPHY 3850 Geography of the National Parks 3 Credits

This course examines the National Park System (NPS) of the United States from a geographic perspective. The course will use the NPS as a lens through which to examine issues of geographic importance, including those from physical, human, and environmental geography. There will be a required field trip.
Components: Discussion, Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: a previous course in geography or consent of instructor.
Typically Offered: Spring

GEOGRPHY 3930 Geography of Asia 3 Credits

A regional and topical comprehensive study of the geographic regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Topics include those from both physical and human geography.
Components: Class
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: a 1000-level course in geography or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Fall

GEOGRPHY 3950 Guided Research 1-3 Credits

Research conducted by a student in close collaboration with a faculty member; culminates in a formal presentation and/or written report.
Components: Field Studies, Laboratory
Typically Offered: All

GEOGRPHY 3960 Geography of Japan 1-6 Credits

A detailed study of Japan, featuring its physical, cultural, human, demographic, and political geography. *The heart of the course will be a three- or six-week field study in Japan. During the first three weeks students travel from Hokkaido to Kyushu. Students who only participate in this section can sign up for 1-3 hours of credit. Students signing up for the six-week session will complete the three-week travel section and then spend three more weeks in Kumamoto Prefecture. Students signing up for the six-week session can sign up for 1-6 hours of credit. The requirements for the three- and six-week courses are the same for the first three weeks. The six-week course also requires an original field research assignment.
Components: Field Studies
GE: International Education, Social Sciences
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Summer

GEOGRPHY 4030 Geography Seminar 3 Credits

Development of geographic thought, library research techniques, organization and presentation of research data.
Components: Seminar
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: at least junior standing and geography major or minor
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 4120 Topical Seminar 2-3 Credits

A specific geographic topic within a seminar format.
Components: Laboratory, Seminar
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: junior standing
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 4150 Environmental History 3 Credits

This course will examine past and current environmental changes, with a focus on climate change. To better understand these environmental changes, the framework of environmental thought will be examined to provide context.
Components: Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: any physical geography course or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: EVERY/4TH

GEOGRPHY 4330 Advanced Geographic Information System 3 Credits

This course builds on concepts covered in GEOGRPHY 3230 (Introduction to GIS) with an emphasis on spatial analysis using advanced methods for rasters and vectors.
Components: Laboratory, Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 2230 or GEOGRPHY 3230 or CIVILENG 4630 or RECLAM 3940
Typically Offered: Spring

GEOGRPHY 4350 Gender Relations in Cross-Cultural Perspective 3 Credits

This course examines how peoples gender roles are defined across cultures. Specifically we examine implications of these definitions with respect to various issues such as division of labor within households, gender differentiated health issues, domestic violence, gender and politics. We address these issues at a variety of geographic scales ranging from household to the national and global. Critical thinking, analysis, research and writing skills will also be developed.
Components: Discussion, Class
GE: Gender Studies
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: GEOGRPHY 3170 or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Occasional

GEOGRPHY 4530 Historical Geography of the United States 3 Credits

Recreation of past geographies; changes through time in the physical and cultural environment.
Components: Class
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: 3 credits in geography or consent of instructor
Typically Offered: Fall

GEOGRPHY 4660 Cooperative Field Experience 1-8 Credits

Enhancement of the educational experience through placement of a student with a cooperating agency, business, industry or institution. The nature of the assignment, type of experience, number of credits and evaluation procedure to be stipulated in a statement of agreement learning contract) between the student and the department.
Components: Field Studies
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: consent of department chair
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

GEOGRPHY 4760 Geography Field Sudy 1-8 Credits

Field trip of one to eight weeks duration to study regional or systematic geography firsthand in North America or overseas.
Components: Field Studies
Typically Offered: Winter

GEOGRPHY 4920 Independent Study in Geography 1-3 Credits

Independent work on a particular topic or problem supervised by a staff member.
Components: Independent Study
Prereqs/Coreqs: P: consent of department chair
Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

Faculty and lecturers

Additional information about the Faculty and Lecturers below may be found in the Faculty and Academic Staff section of this catalog.

Dornak, L. Lynnette

Larson, Evan

Stradford, H. Todd

Underwood, Christopher A.

Valiga, James

Waugh, Richard A.