Concentration Chairman: Marvin Mikesell, P 301, 702-8301
Committee Secretary: Meyosha Smiley, P 301, 702-8301

Program of Study

The discipline of geography contributes to an understanding of society by exploring the Earth's environment and its interactions with human life, by inquiring into cultures and societies from the perspective of area study, and by investigating problems of spatial organization. The Bachelor of Arts program in geography offers a distinctive focus for general education and provides a background both for advanced specialization in the discipline and for study in other fields. Solid grounding in modern geography can lead to careers in government service, environmental consulting, marketing, publishing, planning, and teaching at all levels.

Program Requirements

The B.A. degree in geography calls for the satisfactory completion of eleven courses, at least eight of which must be in geography. These include the orientation course (Geography 20000); an introduction to maps and mapping (Geography 28200); the senior seminar (Geography 29800); and at least eight additional geography courses, up to three of which may be in approved related fields. A bachelor's thesis is prepared in connection with the senior seminar.

Summary of Requirements


1 GEOG 20000

1 GEOG 28200

8 additional geography courses; up to three
may be in approved related fields

1 Senior Seminar (GEOG 29800)

bachelor's thesis


Grading. All courses counting toward the geography concentration are taken for letter grades. A minimum of a C average is required.

Research Grants. Geography concentrators may apply for small grants from the Ada Espenshade Wrigley Fund in support of extraordinary expenses connected with research leading to their bachelor's thesis.

Special Honors. Special honors in geography are awarded to students with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better who submit a bachelor's thesis judged to be outstanding.

Awards. Each year the Committee on Geographical Studies nominates outstanding senior geography concentrators for an Outstanding Senior in Geography Award from the Illinois Geographical Society and an Award for Excellence from the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers.

Joint B.A./M.A. Program. This program permits qualified students to enter upon a course of graduate study before completion of their work in the College. Approval and supervision is in the hands of a faculty committee, acting in consultation with the student's College adviser. Students must apply for the B.A./M.A. program in geography by April 1 of their third year in the College. They are admitted to candidacy for the master's degree during their fourth year in the College. In recognition of the advanced level of performance attained by these students, up to three courses taken as part of the College concentration in geography may be counted toward the nine-course master's requirement. Both a bachelor's thesis and a master's paper are required.


Michael P. Conzen, Professor, Committee on Geographical Studies and the College; Chairman, Committee on Geographical Studies

Neil Harris, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor, Department of History, Committees on Geographical Studies and General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

Doris B. Holleb, Professorial Lecturer, Committee on Geographical Studies and the College

Marvin W. Mikesell, Professor, Committee on Geographical Studies and the College


For a description of the numbering guidelines for the following courses, consult the section on reading the catalog on page 15.

20000. Introduction to Geography. This course, which is a review of the history and current orientations of human and environmental geography, is designed for geography concentrators or prospective concentrators. Other interested students are welcome to enroll with consent of instructor. It includes a critical review of representative pedagogic works and selected reading of recent periodical and monographic literature. M. Mikesell. Autumn.

20100/30100. Cultural Geography. This course is an examination of the two main concerns of this field of geography: (1) the logic and pathology revealed in the record of the human use and misuse of the Earth, and (2) the discordant relationship of the world political map with more complicated patterns of linguistic and religious distribution. M. Mikesell. Winter.

21900/31900. Historical Geography of the United States (=GEOG 21900/31900, HIST 28800/38800). This course examines the spatial dynamics of the frontier, regional development, the social character of settlement patterns, and evolution of the cultural landscapes of America from pre-European times to 1900. Superior term papers from this course may be selected for special publication. An all-day Illinois field trip required. M. Conzen. Autumn.

22000/32000. United States in Geographical Perspective. Students make a systematic analysis of contemporary regional organization of American society and its economy, emphasizing the dynamics that explain the locational distribution of people, resources, and economic activity and the settlement pattern. The course examines the regional restructuring of industry and services, transportation, city growth, and cultural consumption. A two-day weekend Illinois and Wisconsin field trip required. M. Conzen. Winter.

22700/32700. Urban Structure and Process (=GEOG 22700/32700, SOCI 22700/36100, SOSC 25100). This course reviews competing theories of urban development, especially their ability to explain the changing nature of cities under the impact of advanced industrialism. Analysis includes a consideration of emerging metropolitan regions, the microstructure of local neighborhoods, and the limitations of the past American experience as a way of developing urban policy both in this country and elsewhere. O. McRoberts. Winter.

23500/33500. Urban Geography. This course examines the spatial organization and current restructuring of modern cities in light of the economic, social, cultural, and political forces that shape them. It explores the systematic interactions between social process and physical system, with emphasis on ways in which human motive and action shape and are shaped by the contingent circumstances of place. We cover basic concepts of urbanism and urbanization, systems of cities (including central-place theory), urban growth, migration, centralization and decentralization, land-use dynamics, physical geography and urban morphology, and planning. Finally, we focus on American cities with brief comparisons to European and non-Western urban contexts. M. Conzen. Winter. Not offered 2001-02; will be offered 2002-03.

25300/35300. Seminar: Problems in the Human Geography of the Middle East. This course includes a review and cartographic demonstration of habitat types, modes of livelihood, and ethnic distribution, followed by student reports on selected aspects of human geography. M. Mikesell. Spring.

25400/35400. Ancient Landscapes: Environmental Change, Geoarcheology, and Off-Site Archaeology (=GEOG 25400/35400, NEAR 35500). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing and consent of instructor. The main focus of this course is on examples drawn from the Old World and Near East; some New World material is also included. Topics relevant to archeology, anthropology, geography, and environmental studies are covered. T. Wilkinson. Spring.

25500/35500. Biogeography (=BIOS 23406/35500/45500, ENST 25500, EVOL 45500, GEOG 25500/35500). PQ: Completion of the general education requirement for the biological sciences or consent of instructor. This course examines factors governing the distribution and abundance of animals and plants. Topics include patterns and processes in historical biogeography, island biogeography, geographical ecology, areography, and conservation biology, such as the design and effectiveness of nature reserves. B. Patterson (odd years), L. Heaney (even years). Winter.

26100/36100. Roots of the Modern American City (=ENST 26100, GEOG 26100/36100, HIST 26900/36900). This course traces the economic, social, and physical development of the city in North America from early industrialization to the present. Emphasis is on evolving urban systems and the changing spatial organization of people and land use. Superior term papers from this course may be selected for special publication. An all-day Illinois field trip required. M. Conzen. Autumn.

26600/36600. Economics of Urban Policies (=ECON 26600/36500, GEOG 26600/36600, PBPL 24500). PQ: ECON 20100. This course covers tools needed to analyze urban economics and address urban policy problems. Topics include: a basic model of residential location and rents; income, amenities, and neighborhoods; homelessness and urban poverty; decisions on housing purchase versus rental, housing taxation, housing finance, and landlord monitoring; models of commuting mode choice; and congestion and transportation pricing and policy, urban growth, urban environmental externalities, and Third World cities. G. Tolley. Winter.

26700/36700. Metropolitan Development and Planning (=GEOG 26700/36700, PBPL 26700, SOCI 24700). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. This course focuses on metropolitan development patterns and the interplay of geopolitical, economic, and social changes in U.S. cities after 1950. Intergovernmental relations and urban planning concepts and institutions are also explored. Selected policies for economic development, land-use management, housing, education, transportation, energy, and the environment are analyzed in a regional context. D. Holleb. Spring.

27600. Colloquium: Hyde Park and Chicago's South Side (=GEOG 27600, HIST 29600). This colloquium uses Hyde Park and Chicago's South Side as a case study to introduce students to issues and methodologies in the history and historical geography of American urban life during the past century and a half. Discussions focus on both primary and secondary source readings, and each participant designs and carries out an original research project. K. Conzen, M. Conzen. Winter.

28200. Introduction to Cartography and GIS. This course provides an introduction to cartographic practices (including map preparation, compilation, construction, and design) using computer-based geographic information system techniques. Lab sessions required. R. Greene. Autumn.

28400/38400. Intermediate Cartography and GIS. PQ: GEOG 28200 or equivalent. This course covers the development of cartographic and computer-based geographic information system techniques applicable to student research topics. R. Greene. Spring.

29100. Undergraduate Tutorial. PQ: Consent of instructor. Available for either Pass or letter grade. This course is designed for individual study of selected geographic problems. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

29300. Readings in Geographic Literature in French. PQ: Reading knowledge of French and consent of instructor. Available for either Pass or letter grade. M. Mikesell. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

29400/39400. Readings in Nature and Culture. PQ: GEOG 20000 or consent of instructor. This course is an opportunity for research and discussion on the logic and pathology revealed in evidence of the human use and misuse of the Earth. M. Mikesell. Autumn.

29500/39500. Readings in Culture and Nationality. PQ: GEOG 20000 or consent of instructor. This course examines the role of language and religion in the integration of nation-states and of examples of cultural dissidence and cultural conflict. M. Mikesell. Winter.

29700. Readings in Special Topics in Geography. PQ: Consent of instructor. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Must be taken for a letter grade. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

29800. Senior Seminar. PQ: Open to geography concentrators with fourth-year standing. Must be taken for a letter grade. This course is designed for development of the bachelor's thesis. M. Conzen. Winter.

41000. American Landscapes 1853-1904 (=ARTH 26300/36300, GEOG 41000, HIST 28100/38100). This course treats changes in the natural and human-made environment, focusing on the settings American designers, builders, architects, and their clients developed for work, housing, education, recreation, worship, and travel. Lectures attempt to relate specific physical changes to social values, aesthetic theories, technological skills, and social structure. N. Harris. Autumn.

41800. Seminar: Historical Geography (=GEOG 41800, HIST 28800/38800). PQ: Consent of instructor. Available on demand. Minimum enrollment six students. M. Conzen. Spring.

42400. Urban Landscapes as Social Text (=GEOG 42400, SOCI 33200). PQ: Consent of instructor. M. Conzen. Autumn.