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2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Geography and Sustainable Planning - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.


Phone: (616) 331-3065, fax: (616) 331-8635, email: [email protected]

Professors: Roy Cole, Elena Lioubimtseva. Associate Professors: Jim Penn, Wanxiao Sun, Jeroen Wagendorp, Gang Xu. Assistant Professor: Kin Ma. Visiting Professor: Yanning Wei. Adjunct Instructors: Michael Gutowsky, Steven Stepek, Judith Transue, Frank Wash, Jonathan Wessell.

Geography and Sustainable Planning offers the following programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in geography, including the general geography major and three emphasis areas: geospatial technology, urban and regional planning, and environment and global development
  • Geographic techniques (GIS and remote sensing) minor
  • Sustainable urban and regional planning minor
  • Geography education at the secondary level minor (teachable minor)
  • Geographic information systems technology undergraduate certificate
  • Sustainable urban and regional planning undergraduate certificate

The geography and sustainable planning curriculum at GVSU integrates the natural and social sciences and geospatial technologies and offers students strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Geography and sustainable planning areas offer a wide range of opportunities to people with various interest and talents focusing on finding real solutions to complex environmental, economic, and social problems and issues (such as food and water security, sustainable economic growth, environmental justice, climate change resiliency and adaptations, etc.). Students majoring in geography will develop strong analytical, research, civic engagement and communication skills and master sophisticated technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), climate and environmental modeling, digital image processing and computer cartography. The department offers 40 different courses, including faculty-led international summer school in urban and regional planning in the Netherlands.

Faculty members are experts in sustainable development and global change, geospatial technologies (GIS, satellite remote sensing, and digital image processing), sustainable urban and regional planning, environmental, cultural, and regional geography. Flexible interdisciplinary programs provide courses of study focused on geospatial technologies (computer cartography, GIS, satellite remote sensing, and digital image processing), sustainable urban and regional planning, environment, and global and regional development. Due to the revolution in geospatial information technologies and spatial data analysis, geographers are very much in demand in the job market and in graduate school. Please consult the department's website information about employment opportunities, scholarships, and grants.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A. and B.S. in geography
  • B.A. and B.S. in geography: geospatial technology emphasis
  • B.A. and B.S. in geography: urban and regional planning emphasis
  • B.A. and B.S. in geography: environment and global development

Three minors:

  • Sustainable urban and regional planning
  • Geographical techniques
  • Geography education at the secondary level (teachable minor). A teachable major with elementary and secondary education is also offered as a social studies major with a geography emphasis.

Two certificates:

  • Geographic information systems technology
  • Sustainable urban and regional planning

Available to all majors, certificate credit hours can be duplicated with a major or minor.

For more information about geography and planning degrees, please contact Professor Elena Lioubimtseva at [email protected]

Participating Programs

Geography and Sustainable Planning participates in the social studies major. The major in social studies is designed for students seeking teacher certification in secondary or middle school social studies or in elementary education. The major includes a minimum of 42 credit hours in economics, geography, history, and political science. Students seeking teacher certification also complete an appropriate minor and the professional program offered by the College of Education. The social studies major meets State of Michigan content standards for teacher preparation in social studies, which require at least six credit hours and two courses in each of the four disciplines and at least 18 credits and six courses in one of the four areas.

Honors Organizations

Lambda Omega is GVSU's Chapter of the Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geography Honor Society. Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) is an international honor society in geography. Gamma Theta Upsilon was founded in 1928 and became a national organization in 1931. Members of GTU have met academic requirements and share a background and interest in geography. GTU chapter activities support geography knowledge and awareness.

GTU's goals:

  1. To further professional interest in geography by affording a common organization for those interested in the field.
  2. To strengthen student and professional training through academic experiences in addition to those of the classroom and laboratory.
  3. To advance the status of geography as a cultural and practical discipline for study and investigation.
  4. To encourage student research of high quality and to promote an outlet for publication.
  5. To create and administer funds for furthering graduate study and/or research in the field of geography.
  6. To encourage members to apply geographic knowledge and skills in service to humankind.


The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Geography

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Geography: Geospatial Technology Emphasis

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Geography: Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Geography: Environment and Global Development Emphasis

Geospatial Technology Minor

Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning Minor

Geography-Teacher Certification Minor

Environmental Remote Sensing, Certificate

Certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Technology

Certificate in Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning

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