Jun 25, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geographic Science, Environmental Conservation, Sustainability and Development Concentration, B.A.

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Geographic Science 

Program Coordinator: Dr. Mace Bentley
Phone: (540) 568-6260                                                                 


The Geographic Science Program empowers, inspires and motivates students to become competent critical thinkers prepared for lifelong learning, who will respond to intellectual challenges with interest, excitement and competence, and who will see themselves as global citizens actively involved in the world around them. 

The Geographic Sciences Program prepares students who are confident in their abilities as geographers. Graduates have the skills to make a professional contribution to the field, and to compete in graduate programs and the job market. They are highly qualified for careers in research and development and are equipped for long term success as professionals in the field of geography.

Through the study of geography students will:

  • Understand and properly use the terminology and concepts that are central to the discipline of geography, and explain how these concepts evolved over time.
  • Effectively use appropriate geospatial technologies to address questions about human interactions within the built or natural environments.
  • Be productive participants in research efforts aimed at measuring, describing, analyzing, and explaining the underlying processes giving rise to geographic phenomena.
  • Work effectively in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Evaluate human-environment interactions from holistic point of view that addresses geographic, as well as political, social, economic and ethical factors affecting those interactions.
  • Demonstrate civic responsibility and appreciation for culture and physical diversity from local global scales.

Environmental Conservation, Sustainability and Development Concentration

Geographic Science graduates trained in resource analysis, environmental conservation and sustainable development find jobs with local, state and federal governments, non-profit organizations, and for-profit agencies.

Organizations hire geographers to work in environmental and land use planning, resource management (including hydrology, forestry, wildlife and soil conservation, and recreation management), area or regional specialties, international business, community development, and development of human and natural resources in foreign countries. Many geographic science graduates move on to graduate degrees (M.A., M.S. and Ph.D.) and become educators in higher education (community colleges and universities) or obtain higher level positions in both the private and public sector.

Private environmental organizations and consulting firms, as well as government agencies, hire students completing the environmental studies concentration at JMU. Principal employers include the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and non-profit organizations including the Nature Conservancy and Peace Corps. Particularly marketable for JMU Geographic Science graduates is the combination of experiences in the ECSD and AGIS concentrations.

Co-curricular Activities and Organizations

  • Geography Club
  • Gamma Theta Upsilon (International Geographical Honor Society)

Degree and Major Requirements

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • General Education  41 Credit Hours 1
  • Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required) 0-14 Credit Hours 2
  • Philosophy course(s) (in addition to General Education  courses) 3 Credit Hours
  • Major requirements 53 Credit Hours
  • Electives 18-22 Credit Hours
Total: 120 Credit Hours


1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary. ISAT 251  for the math requirement in Cluster 3  is strongly recommended, as is GEOG 200  in Cluster 4 .
2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures’ placement test.

Major Requirements

Core Courses

Total: 53 Credit Hours


1 For Honors students, the advanced sequence is GEOG 499 A, B, C .
2 Students may opt for a capstone experience that entails three or six hours of independent research (GEOG 490 ), with the approval of and in close consultation with a project adviser.

Additional Information

In addition to the geography core courses, students must choose one of two concentrations, listed in the “Concentrations” section. All courses for the major must be taken on a graded basis. Students must earn a “C” or better in each of the core courses as they are prerequisites to most concentration courses.

Concentration Requirements

The environmental conservation, sustainability and development (ECSD) concentration focuses on the geographical contexts within which people and places interact. Required and elective course work allows students to explore spatial and temporal patterning between human communities and the natural environment at multiple scales. The curriculum addresses global issues such as global climate change and globalization; environment and human interactions including political, economic, physical and ethical factors; human and ecological aspects of sustainable development; natural resource management including energy, forests, wildlife and biodiversity; cultural ecology; regional geography and population issues.

In addition to the geography core requirements, students in the environmental conservation, sustainability and development concentration must complete the following course work.

Required Courses

  • ECSD Electives 15 Credit Hours
  • Cognate course 3 Credit Hours

ECSD Electives

Students select four courses from the list below. These 300-level courses are identified on the concentration form, which will be reviewed and approved by the student’s academic adviser.

In consultation with the academic adviser, a student may select one non-geographic science course as an elective.

Cognate Course: 3 Credit Hours

(three credit hours selected from the following)

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