Lake Champlain

As historians study time, geographers study space

The curiosity of a geographer is virtually unbounded; we are observers and analysts of space, place, and environment on scales from the local to the global. Geography is a multifaceted discipline that bridges the social sciences, the humanities, and the physical sciences.

Geographers study:

  • Environmental processes operating in the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere and the ways in which these processes are changing in time and space
  • The ways in which cultures — past and present — leave their imprint on the land and landscape
  • The movements of people across space — from local commuting patterns to global refugee flows
  • Geopolitical patterns — the changing power relationships within and between nations and states
  • The ways in which human relationships to places, spaces, and environments are shaped by — and, in turn, shape — class, ethnic, race, and gender identities natural hazards, biogeography, climate change, and earthquakes
  • They map the world, literally as well as metaphorically, and employ the newest technologies of geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and satellite imagery to better understand the world's constantly changing natural and human landscapes
  • Geography club member holding geography puzzle

    Geography Club

    Our student-run club spreads awareness of the multi-faceted discipline of geography and promotes the importance of relationships that take place in space, and the creation of place within the smallest of scales, to the largest. We seek to create a group that unites geography students at the university with the professors in the field. In doing so, we create an environment that fosters creative thinking and collaborations among students and their mentors. We ultimately wish to heighten awareness on campus about what it really means to be a geographer through hosting activities and events. We believe geography at UVM is one the university's best assets and hidden gems, and we desire to showcase what the department has to offer. Please contact the Department Chair, Beverley Wemple (email link), for a list of current officers.

What skills will geography teach me that an employer will want?

  • Geography studies equips students analytical and conceptual skills
  • The understanding of the spatial dimension of physical, environmental, and human phenomena
  • Trains students to appreciate the importance of a broad, international, and comparative perspective
  • Provides students with technical skills, a focus on environment and society, and local/global interpretive capacity that is increasingly important for an informed citizenry
  • A high proportion of our students go on to graduate work, in geography or cognate fields, and we have placed students at some of the best graduate programs in the country.

Students who want more information on the study and practice of geography can pick up several brochures in the department office including "Careers in Geography" and "Geography as a Discipline."

What kind of courses will I take?

Interdepartmental ties: The commitment to an Area Studies focus in our department is strengthened by close ties to the International Studies and Canadian Studies Programs at UVM. Similarly, we regularly cross-list courses and work in concert with a number of other departments at UVM, including the environmental program, women's studies, political science, geology, anthropology, and natural resources. Check out sample course offerings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If you are a geography major, what do you study… maps?

A. The study of geography is not like a category on Jeopardy. Geography is a remarkable interdisciplinary science with an emphasis on understanding the spatial dimension of both physical and human phenomena. It allows students to connect their intellectual inquiry with real-world problems and see the world in all its complexity. Maps, along with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), satellite images, are all tools and resources that geographers use to study, produce, and synthesize human and physical spatial data.

Q. What will I gain from taking a geography class if I am not a geography major?

A. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the geography department offers a wide range of classes. Courses benefit students who are still deciding on their major or who are majoring in another discipline. For example, if you are a student who is interested in economics or business, Geography of the Global Economy will be of interest to you. If you are interested in political science, take a political geography class. Want to learn more about weather and climate? Enroll in the introductory Weather Climate and Landscapes class, a prerequisite for more advanced Climatology, Hazards, and Satellite Imaging classes.

Q. How many students are majoring in geography?

A. On average, the department has 80 majors and 65 minors. Every year, the department coordinates several events, such as Geography Awareness Week and the Department Awards Dinner, with and for geography majors and minors.

Q. How many geography faculty are there?

A. Currently, there are eight full-time and one part-time geography faculty members. These faculty represent the range of different fields of geography and are expert teacher-scholars. By this, we mean that the geography faculty are not professors who hide away in labs or are locked behind their office doors. They are actively involved in both teaching and in research. Geography faculty encourage undergraduate students to become involved in their research and provide excellent support to students who are interested in conducting their own research.

Q. Which General Education requirements will geography satisfy?

A. Geography courses satisfy many College of Arts and Sciences and University of Vermont general and distribution requirements:

  •     GEOG 060- Race and Ethnicity in the U.S. satisfies the College of Arts and Sciences Race Relations and Ethnic Diversity in the United States General Requirement and the University’s Diversity Category 1 requirement.
  •     GEOG 050-World Regional Geography, GEOG 150-Geography of Africa, GEOG 154-Geography of Third World Development, GEOG 156-Latin America, and Geog 173- Political Ecology will satisfy The College of Arts and Sciences Non-European Cultures Course General Requirement and the University’s Diversity Category 2 requirement.
  •     GEOG 040-Weather, Climate and Landscapes, GEOG 140- Biogeography, and GEOG 143-Climatology
  •     All Geography courses can be used toward The College of Arts and Sciences Social Science Distribution Requirement, except for the geography courses that can be used towards the natural science distribution requirement

Q. How do I learn more?

A If you are interested in learning more about geography, contact the department office at 200 Old Mill, 802-656-2063, email: geography@uvm.edu, or stop by to see the Department Chair, Dr. Beverley Wemple, during her office hours.

Cheryl Morse and Prudence Doherty
Cheryl Morse, Professor of Geography, and Prudence Doherty, Special Collections Public Services Librarian.

Beyond Tourism: Today's Country Store is Vital Hub for Vermont Communities

The Vermont country store has long been idealized by promoters of state tourism as a quaint relic of the past, valued for its nostalgic qualities. Research by UVM professor of geography Cheryl Morse shows that traditional country stores also offer vital services to Vermonters who live in a state where a high percentage of towns have 2,500 or fewer residents.

“I became interested in the how local stores operate in Vermont today, and what functions they provide beyond tourism,” says Morse, who describes her findings in a recent paper “The Multifunctionality of Country Stores: Insights on Resilience from Rural Vermont” published by the Geographical Review.

The paper, derived from a qualitative study conducted in 2015 and 2016, was supported by Prudence Doherty, Special Collections Public Services Librarian at UVM, and Newton Rose ‘17, a UVM history major who worked as research assistant.

Read the Beyond Tourism full story.