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Geography is the study of the relationships between people and their environment, relationships that vary from place to place across the Earth. Geography students assess those factors responsible for the variable and changing character of Earth’s systems, which over time have been transformed into human habitat. Geography integrates physical science, social science and the humanities. The department requires that students understand both the physical and human components, and develop the spatial analytical skills to study these systems.

Physical geography emphasizes a systematic and interdisciplinary approach to the study of landforms, climate, soils and vegetation. Human geography seeks to describe and explain the spatial patterns of human activities on Earth. These range from economic activities such as the distribution of retail sales and industrial production to cultural landscapes, which often have strong historical roots. Geographic information science (GIS), quantitative methods and remote sensing provide geographers with the analytical techniques to study spatial phenomena.