Department of Geography 

Aondover Tarhule, Chair
Fred Shelley, Graduate Liaison
Sarkeys Energy Center, Suite 510
Norman, OK 73019-1007
Phone: (405) 325-5325
FAX: (405) 325-6090
Internet: http://geography.ou.edu


Faculty Roster 

Professors Greene, Hoagland, Meo, Shelley, Wallach; Associate Professors de Beurs, McPherson, Offen, Purcell, Rundstrom, Tarhule; Assistant Professors Basara, Gliedt, Shafer, Smith; Lecturers Fagin, Gress, Gros, Peppler, Rood, Sakakibara.

Degrees Offered 

General Information 

Geography is one of the oldest organized fields of study. Natural curiosity about “What’s over there?” as well as a desire to seek resources prompted early people to migrate across land and oceans.  As knowledge of the world and its people grew, so too did the discipline of geography. The known world was mapped, and cartography developed as a specialized profession.  Continued exploration produced information that was synthesized, and the world was defined and interpreted by geographers.

Modern geography continues this tradition today. It is the study of the Earth’s physical environments, the people who inhabit them, and the interactions between people and their environments. The study of the Earth’s physical environments, features, and processes is the domain of physical geography while human geography focuses on people, the patterns and dynamics of cultures, societies, economies and regions. Thus, unique among all disciplines, geographic inquiry sits at the intersection of the social sciences and the natural sciences. Within the department, the research interests and expertise of faculty members cover the entire spectrum of geography including biogeography and human impacts on species distribution, applied climatology, renewable energy resources, hydrology and water resources, land cover and land use change, cultures, indigenous identities, political ecology, regional specialties, environmental policy and natural hazards.

Environmental Sustainability is a growing field that addresses how societies can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Environmental sustainability has emerged as a field of study following recognition that the resources that support human life and make it comfortable are decreasing in quantity and quality while the demand and consumption for these resources continues to rise. Simultaneously, there is recognition that the issues involved, such as renewable energy resources, climate change, biodiversity loss, water resources, environmental justice, air and environmental quality etc., are cross-cutting issues that are not, and cannot adequately be, addressed by existing disciplines. Thus, there is need for new educational and research paradigms that weave environmental, economic and social issues together to provide students with an interdisciplinary education designed for dealing with such complex issues. To meet this need, more than 300 sustainability-related degree and certificate programs have been developed at colleges and universities throughout the United States over the past several years. The environmental sustainability degree program at the University of Oklahoma is the only full-fledged degree granting program in the Big 12. Graduates of this program will lead efforts in research, decision-making, and policies that underpin the drive for sustainable futures.

Geographic Information Science (GIS) is the science and technology of acquiring, analyzing, visualizing, and interpreting data to enhance understanding, reveal relationships, patterns, and trends, and to support decision-making processes. Geographic Information Science includes the study, development and application of geographic information systems, remote sensing and global positioning systems (GPS). It is by nature multidisciplinary and has considerable applications in nearly all disciplines including anthropology, biology, business management, ecology, engineering, geography, geology, library studies, meteorology, sociology, and urban and regional planning, among many others. GIS integrates methods from all these different fields in order to solve problems and understand human and physical systems from local to global scales. Virtually any kind of data that has geographic attributes can by analyzed and visualized in GIS to reveal information that is essentially not available using any other means.  For these reasons, many businesses and organizations find GIS an indispensable part of routine operations and for long term strategic planning.  Several faculty members have strong research interests in applying GIS and remote sensing technologies to understand land use land cover change, ecosystem dynamics, and urban environments

Programs for Academic Excellence 

Geography, environmental sustainability, and geographic information science are all strongly interlinked. Together, they provide us with new ways of thinking and tools for understanding and managing our planet. Yet each is sufficiently distinct and provides different career paths and opportunities for students and practitioners.

The department’s educational mission and scholarship covers the entire spectrum of geography, environmental sustainability, and geographic information science.  Faculty research interests in physical geography include hydrology, global and tropical climatology, land use land cover, and biogeography.  In human geography, faculty research interests include economic and natural resource development, indigenous cultures, specific regions, such as Latin America, Africa, Russia and East Asia, and indigenous use of media.  Research in environmental sustainability focuses on renewable energy resources principally, energy and wind power development, ecosystem valuation, and sustainability perception.  Many faculty members make extensive use of geographical information systems (GIS) in both geography and environmental sustainability research, in addition to investigating cutting edge methodological issues in geographic information sciences. 

Faculty members also use a wide range of quantitative and analytic methods, statistics remote sensing, archival methods and qualitative methodologies.  The faculty is involved in wide ranging research associated with areas including natural hazards, land-use and land cover change, water resources, applied climatology and sustainability.  The faculty is currently working in many geographical areas, including the United States, Canada, Latin America, West Africa, the Middle East, and South and East Asia

Special Facilities and Programs 

Department offices are housed primarily on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of Sarkeys Energy Center, while laboratories are located on the first floor of the same building.  Available software includes ERDAS, ENVI, ARCMap, Microsoft Office products and SPSS for statistical analysis.

The department has laboratories for physical geography, cartography, and remote sensing.
University resources include the Bizzell Memorial Library, which has an extensive collection of journals and books on geography, a large collection of maps and aerial photographs, and special collections in Western History, the History of Science, and the Geosciences. 

The department also houses the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative (OWPI), which investigates and promotes wind energy resources and economic information to policy makers, land owners, potential wind energy investors, and citizens of Oklahoma (http://www.seic.okstate.edu/owpi/), and the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education (OKAGE), an organization for geography educators in Oklahoma.  OKAGE is affiliated with the National Geographic Society and its national network of state geographic alliances and national geography organizations. http://www.ngsednet.org/community/index.cfm?community_id=254.

Study Abroad

Students majoring in geography, environmental sustainability, and geographic information science are strongly encouraged to participate in the University ’s Study Abroad Program during the junior or senior year. Department advisors work closely with students to insure that courses taken abroad will apply to their degrees.  Students may study abroad in any of more than 100 cities across 50 countries around the world.  Graduates of the program have studied abroad in Austria, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, and the United Kingdom (English and Scottish universities). The College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences offers the John T. Snow Study Abroad Scholarship; this $1,000 award is presented each year to a junior A&GS student who plans to study abroad, in addition to funding opportunities offered by OU through the Study Abroad Program.  

Scholarships 

The department offers 11 awards and scholarships (5 of which are endowed) which are used annually to recognize deserving students. The Ralph and Margaret Olson Scholarship Fund provides awards to students on the basis of high academic achievement; undergraduate majors are eligible after completion of the junior year. The Clyde Bollinger Award provides awards to graduating seniors who demonstrate outstanding scholarship and enthusiasm for geography.  Additional awards and scholarships are provided annually to outstanding graduate and undergraduate students.  The James Davis Geography Early Scholar Award and the Gress Family Scholarship are awarded to freshmen or sophomores who declare a major in geography or environmental sustainability in the freshmen or sophomore year. The Chair’s award for Outstanding Senior Capstone is awarded each year to the student or team of undergraduate students that produce an original body of work judged to be the best by the faculty members.


Undergraduate Study 


All undergraduate students majoring in geography, environmental sustainability, or geographic information science are required to complete a core curriculum in the respective degrees, which provides students with an introduction to the major areas of geography and sustainability.  Both the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees contain electives that allow the student (in consultation with an adviser) to craft a degree program that meets their interests in the various facets of the fields.  Students are encouraged to meet with the departmental faculty advisers early in the student’s academic career to begin discussing the courses best suited to the student’s interests.   

Degree Requirements 

For detailed semester by semester curriculum requirements, please consult: checksheets.ou.edu/atmosgeogindex.htm

No more than 52 hours may be taken in one department of the college. 

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY 

General Education: 40 semester hours distributed in accordance with University requirements.
http://www.ou.edu/enrollment/home/classes_offered/general_education.html

College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Requirements:  

Major Requirements:  40 semester hours including Geography 1203, 3233, 3443, 3773, 3924, 4543, 4893, GIS 4013, and GEOG 4953 (Capstone); and four courses chosen from the list for the student’s concentration (Science and Natural Resources; Planning and Management; or Culture and Society).  No more than two courses may be chosen from one department. 

Electives chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty adviser to complete the 120 hours required to include 40 hours at the upper division (3000-4000) level.   

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY   

General Education: 40 semester hours distributed in accordance with University requirements.
 http://www.ou.edu/enrollment/home/classes_offered/general_education.html

College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Requirements:  28 semester hours including: 

Major Requirements:  40 semester hours including Geography 1203, 3233, 3443, 3773, 3924, 4543, 4893, GIS 4013, and GEOG 4953 (Capstone); and four courses chosen from the list for the student’s concentration (Science and Natural Resources, Planning and Management, or Culture and Society).  No more than two courses may be chosen from one department. 

Additional Science Requirements: A minimum of 15 hours of 3000-4000 level courses to be chosen from chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, geophysics, mathematics, management information systems, meteorology or physics, or statistics courses from plant biology, microbiology, political science, psychology, or sociology.   

Electives chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty adviser to complete the 120 hours required to include 40 hours at the upper division (3000-4000) level.   

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SCIENCE 

General Education: 40 semester hours distributed in accordance with University requirements.
 http://www.ou.edu/enrollment/home/classes_offered/general_education.html

College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Requirements: 

Major Requirements: 46 semester hours including GIS 2013, GIS 2023, GIS 4013, GIS4253, GIS 4453, GIS 4133, GIS 4233, GIS 4653, GEOG 3773, GEOG 3924, GEOG 4923, MIS 2113, MIS 3013, GEOG 4893, and GEOG 4953 (Capstone)

*Major Support Cognate and Advisor-Approved Electives:  The College’s requirement of 24 hours of advisor-approved electives will be satisfied by the completion of a 12-hour Cognate area (12 hours, to include 6 hours at the upper division level) and an additional 12 hours of advisor-approved electives.

Electives chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty adviser to complete the 124 hours required (including 48 upper-division). 

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SCIENCE 

General Education: 40 semester hours distributed in accordance with University requirements.
http://www.ou.edu/enrollment/home/classes_offered/general_education.html

College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Requirements:  28 semester hours including: 

Major Requirements:  46 semester hours including GIS 2013, GIS 2023, GIS 4013, GIS4253, GIS 4453, GIS 4133, GIS 4233, GIS 4653, GEOG 3773, GEOG 3924, GEOG 4923, MIS 2113, MIS 3013, GEOG 4893 and 4953 (Capstone).

Major Support Cognate:  Twelve hours (to include six upper-division hours) in the same area, to be chosen from the following: botany, economics, geography, geology, journalism, meteorology, political science, psychology, sociology or another adviser-approved area.

Additional Science Requirements: A minimum of 15 hours of 3000-4000 level courses in botany, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, geophysics, mathematics, management information systems, meteorology, microbiology, or physics.

Electives chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty adviser to complete the 124 hours required (including 48 upper-division).

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN GEOGRAPHY 

General Education: 40 semester hours distributed in accordance with University requirements. 
 http://www.ou.edu/enrollment/home/classes_offered/general_education.html

College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Requirements: 

Department of Geography Core Requirements:  37 semester hours including Geography 1113 or 2453, 3023, 3213, 3243,3773, 3924, 4893, one upper-division regional course, one course in Geographic Information Science, two Geography courses as electives and GEOG 4953 (Capstone).

Electives chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty adviser to complete the 124-126 hours required (including 48 upper-division). 

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN GEOGRAPHY 

General Education: 40 semester hours distributed in accordance with University requirements. 
 http://www.ou.edu/enrollment/home/classes_offered/general_education.html

College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Requirements:   28 semester hours including: 

Major Requirements:   37 semester hours including Geography 1113 or 2453, 3023, 3213, 3243,3773, 3924, 4893, one upper-division regional course, one course in Geographic Information Science, two Geography courses as electives and GEOG 4953 (Capstone).

Major Support Requirements:

Electives chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty adviser to complete the 124-126 hours required (including 48 upper-division).

MINORS

Environmental Sustainability

A minor in environmental sustainability requires a minimum of 18 hours of courses acceptable for major credit, including at least fifteen upper-division hours. In fulfilling the minor requirements, a student must complete GEOG 1203 and the environmental sustainability core courses (GEOG 3233, 3443, and 4543). The remainder of the 18 required hours must come from upper-division courses listed in the three concentrations available to Environmental Sustainability majors (Science and Natural Resources; Planning and Management; and Culture and Society).  

Geographic Information Science

A minor in geographic information science requires a minimum of 15 hours of courses acceptable for major credit, including at least nine upper-division hours. In fulfilling the minor requirements, a student must complete two introductory courses from GIS 2013 and GIS 2023; and an introductory-level techniques course from 3924, 4133, or 4453. The remainder of the 15 required hours must come from upper-division graded geography courses selected in consultation with a departmental adviser

Geography

A minor in geography requires a minimum of 15 hours of courses acceptable for major credit, including at least nine upper-division hours. In fulfilling the minor requirements, a student must complete two introductory courses from 1103, 1114, or 1213; and an introductory-level techniques course from 3924, 4133, or 4453. The remainder of the 15 required hours must come from upper-division graded geography courses selected in consultation with a departmental adviser.  

Physical Geography

A minor in physical geography requires a minimum of 15 hours of upper division courses acceptable for major credit, to be chosen from GEOG 3023, 4133, 4203, 4233, 4273, 4283, 4293, 4314, and 4343. Topics in GEOG 3890 (Selected Topics in Geography) and GEOG 4990 (Independent Study) that are related to Physical Geography will also apply. In addition to GEOG 4133, one upper division course from the minor in Geographic Information Science may be substituted for a course in this minor. This minor is not available to Geography majors. 

Graduate Study 


Admission Requirements 

In addition to meeting the requirements of the Graduate College, students seeking admission to the geography program must have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.00, be able to define the goals and objectives for their degree program, and submit at least three letters of recommendation. The department requires results of the Graduate Record Examination as additional evidence of scholarly promise, but no minimum score is required. Students who have some deficiencies in their academic background can be admitted conditionally at the discretion of the department. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact the Department and to identify and contact prospective advisers before applying for graduate work.

Master of Arts 

The M.A. degree certifies that a student has a professional grasp of the concepts and techniques of geography and has demonstrated competence and originality in their use. The M.A. degree can be acquired by one of two methods-a thesis option or a non-thesis option. 

The thesis option requires a total of 30 hours of graduate credit, with at least a B average. Specific coursework requirements include: satisfactory completion of Contemporary Geographical Thought (6973); Research and Writing in Geography (6953); two three-credit hour 6000-level seminars, and a minimum of four hours and no more than six hours of thesis credit. The remaining hours are satisfied with elective courses that the student takes in consultation with his or her adviser and the advisory committee.  In addition, the student will: 

No student may be examined orally more than once. Only after the advisory committee agrees that the thesis is essentially complete will the oral examination be scheduled. 
The non-thesis option requires a total of 36 hours of graduate credit, with at least a B average. Specific coursework requirements include: satisfactory completion of Contemporary Geographical Thought (6973), Research and Writing in Geography  (6953), two three-credit hour 6000-level seminars, and advisor-approved electives. In addition, the student will satisfactorily complete a comprehensive final examination comprising written and oral portions within his or her chosen field of study. 

In order to assure that an M.A. program is completed without undue delay, the evaluation process must be successfully completed before the student has completed more than 42 credit hours of graduate coursework. Courses beyond this total can be counted toward a Ph.D. degree only if the student has completed the M.A. degree or its equivalent. 

Master of Science in Environmental Sustainability

Knowledge of environmental sustainability, integrating understanding of the earth’s physical system with environmental economics, policy analysis, and effective planning, is essential to a world threatened by ongoing environmental degradation. The Master of Science program in Environmental Sustainability has three objectives. One objective is to provide students with a cross-disciplinary understanding of the theory and practice of sustainability. A second objective is to educate and equip students with the analytical and policy skill set to help organizations, businesses, institutions, and communities to understand, adapt, and implement sustainability strategies. The program is also designed to produce graduates whose expertise will drive the next phase of intellectual, organizational, and societal thinking on environmental sustainability.

The M.S. program in Environmental Sustainability includes a thesis option and a non-thesis option. Both programs require the completion of five courses with a grade of B or better in each course. The specific course requirements are GEOG 5433 (Environmental Sustainability—Theory and Practice), GEOG 5243 (Systems Thinking and Knowledge Integration), GEOG 5253 (Economics of Sustainability), GEOG 5333 (Corporate Environmental Strategy), and GEOG 5543 (Life Cycle Analysis).

The thesis option requires completion of 30 hours of course work, including the five required courses and the successful completion and defense of an M.S. thesis. The non-thesis option requires completion of 33 hours of course work, including the five required courses and the successful completion of a comprehensive final examination. Remaining courses for both programs are graduate-level electives selected by the student in consultation with his or her academic advisor.

Doctor of Philosophy 

The Ph.D. degree certifies that a student has mastered a significant body of geographical knowledge and has demonstrated a high degree of professional competence as a geographer by making an important, original contribution to knowledge. The Ph.D. requires: 

All Ph.D. students must identify an advisory committee which will consist of the adviser and four other faculty members, one of whom must be from a discipline other than geography. The committee must be approved by the Department faculty, upon the recommendation of the adviser and student. 

Each student will develop and declare primary and secondary areas of specialization that are acceptable to the advisory committee. Students are expected to declare provisional specialties, in consultation with the advisory committee, by the end of the second semester of residence in the Ph.D. program. Coursework requirements in connection with this specialty, as well as with the cognate field, are determined by the student and the advisory committee in a formal conference held before the end of the first year of residence. 

Each student must select a cognate field or discipline related to his or her area of specialization. A cognate field will normally consist of at least nine hours of courses in more than one discipline. The advisory committee must approve both the cognate field and the courses which fulfill this requirement. 

The readiness of a student to proceed with dissertation research will be evaluated by a proposal as well as written and oral examinations. The proposal presentation will be open to the general public and must be announced in advance, giving the entire department and public a chance to participate.  A written statement of the proposal shall be given to each member of the dissertation committee and to the remaining members of the faculty.  A student will not be allowed to sit for the comprehensive examination until the advisory committee has approved his or her dissertation proposal.  The comprehensive examinations will be administered by an examining committee of at least five faculty members from geography, one, designated the external committee member, must be from outside the discipline. The written portion of the examination will cover the degree specializations and cognate field. The examination will be prepared by the adviser from questions suggested by members of the examining committee. The oral examination will consist of follow-up questions related to the written portion and to the student’s knowledge of geographic thought and methodology. Satisfactory completion of the written and oral portions of the general examination is followed by formal certification of candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. 

After taking the general examination, a formal dissertation proposal must be presented in a meeting open to the geography faculty and graduate student body. If the proposal is judged to be inappropriate or in need of additional work a second presentation may be required. It is the responsibility of the adviser to determine the consensus of the committee to authorize the student to proceed with the dissertation. No formal vote of approval shall be required of the faculty as a whole, but the proposal must have the sanction of all members of the dissertation committee. 

The final requirement is the preparation and oral defense of a Ph.D. dissertation, which must be a major piece of research recognized by the dissertation committee as a significant contribution to knowledge. The dissertation committee must consist of at least five faculty members (except by petition to and approval by the faculty); three or more of them must be faculty members in the department and also on the geography graduate faculty of the University. Members of the advisory committee will normally remain as members of the examination and dissertation committees. All changes in committee membership must be forwarded to the Graduate College for approval at least 30 days prior to defense of the dissertation. 

After advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, a student is expected to submit a dissertation manuscript within four years. After this time, at the discretion of the Department of Geography faculty, the student may be required to repeat the general examinations and/or to resubmit a dissertation proposal as a condition for remaining a degree candidate. As long as there is clear evidence that a student is making progress and is keeping up-to-date professionally, the four-year time period may be extended on recommendation of the dissertation committee. Experience shows, however, that long delays tend to increase the likelihood of problems in completing a dissertation. 

The final defense of the dissertation will be scheduled only after the committee has agreed to approve the draft as nearly complete. Procedures for this defense shall follow those outlined by the Graduate College. Major points of conflict regarding substance or style should be resolved before the final defense. However, minor additions and revisions may be expected after the defense.


August 18, 2013