Relying upon geographic concepts as well as both quantitative and qualitative methods of spatial analysis, this research cluster explores the complex social processes connecting people, places, and the environment across space. While we have a wide range of topical interests including sustainability, racial and gender disparities, geopolitics, transportation, health and medical issues, and the dynamics of internal and international migration, a unifying concern is in the interaction between spatial processes and spatial inequalities.
Geographic Information Science and Systems programs in the department focus on spatial statistics, GIS Cyberinfrastructure, and remote sensing, as well as their applications in research on land use/cover change, health, and regional development. Our strengths include developing advanced spatial statistics, spatial modeling, spatial data analysis, and geocomputation technologies. Our faculty members are developing and applying these advanced geographic information technologies in public health, natural resource and environmental evaluation, landform and landscape evolution, land use/cover change, regional development, social-economic geography, and urban studies.
Our focus in this area is understanding the complex interactions of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere, including the role that human systems play as important drivers of change. The department’s Earth-Environment Interactions group includes faculty with expertise in climate modeling, paleoclimate analysis, sedimentology, geomorphology and geochronology. Our faculty members strive to understand the Earth’s climate system and its history, as well as the mechanics and evolution of landscapes around the world at human timescales within individual watersheds and at the much longer and larger scales of actively evolving mountain ranges.
The Human Dimensions of Climate Change cluster draws on a principal strength of Geography as a discipline: its reach across the boundaries of social and physical sciences to emphasize a scale-dependent, systems approach to understanding human-environment relations. To that end, members of this research cluster employ a mix of methodologies including geospatial and temporal analytical tools, textual content analysis, and mixed methods. We use observations, geologic records, climate models, and analysis of political and economic trends to understand the interplay of climate and human activities in the past, present and future and evaluate societal impacts and adaptation strategies for the coming decades. Our expertise includes the implications of climate dynamics on regional spatial scales including monsoons and mid-latitude climates, changing climatic extremes and implications for adaptation, climate and shipping scenarios in a warming Arctic, and the politics of climate action at local and international scales.