What is Geography?

Geographers study the material and symbolic transformation of the earth in relationship to both human and natural processes. In keeping with contemporary global shifts in culture, the environment, politics and economics, the boundaries of the geographic discipline are dynamic. For example, environmental change, international development, globalization, and new spatial technologies exemplify important arenas of study in geography. Theories of space, scale, location, place, region, mobility and displacement allow geographers to critically analyze change in both human and physical environments.

Geography is both a natural science and a social science as it examines people and their environment and serves as a bridge between the physical and cultural worlds. Human geography (a social science) is concerned especially with the political, economic, social, and cultural processes and resource practices that give definition to particular places and that are affected by them. Physical geography (a natural science) focuses on the earth systems that create the natural environment, such as weather, soils, biogeography, and earth sculpting processes. Courses offered in the Geography Department at Dartmouth College address a range of these key issues.

About the Department

Dartmouth College houses the only Geography Department in the Ivy League. Students may earn a Bachelors of Arts degree in Geography. At this time no advanced degrees are offered. Some Geography faculty are adjunct in Departments in Ph.D.-granting programs, however, and Dartmouth College has a Masters of Liberal Arts degree in which students may write a thesis with a geography faculty supervisor. Students academically qualified for admission find that Dartmouth has a generous financial aid plan, and over half of the student body receives support from either scholarships or loans.

Geography occupies the ground floor and part of the first floor in the Fairchild Physical Sciences Center. Departmental facilities are excellent, and include sophisticated cartography and remote sensing laboratories, extensive computer facilities with mapping capabilities, a well-equipped tree-ring laboratory, and fully-equipped classrooms. Baker Library holds one of the nation's finest collections of atlases and sheet maps, as well as a magnificent array of journals and books for study and research in geography. The Stefansson collection of Arctic materials is especially noteworthy. In addition to field work carried on in the local area, the department sponsors a foreign study program in Prague.