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Geography

Geography combines the natural and social sciences.

At Augustana, your fascination with landscapes and human-environment interactions can take you down many career paths: urban planning, community development, environmental management and protection, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), cartography, teaching, foreign service and more.

Augustana offers a major and minor in geography. Students use social and natural science techniques and geospatial technologies to understand human-environment relationships and key global and local issues like climate change, sustainability, urbanization, resource management, and environmental justice. A new minor in geographic information science and technology (GIS) focuses on skills in geospatial analysis.

In the interdisciplinary field of geography, you’ll make connections between related fields throughout the liberal arts. And through your professors’ connections to community partners and resources, you’ll find career-boosting opportunities such as internships, work and field experience in the Quad-Cities metro area along the Mississippi River.

You’ll also embark on field trips with class groups or the whole department, investigating site-specific issues and exploring the geography of more distant places. Recent destinations include the Pacific Northwest, Louisiana Gulf Coast, Colorado and Great Plains, Intermountain West, California, Nevada and Southern Illinois.

What you'll learn

Disciplinary knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge

Gain a deep understanding of your subject and how it connects to other subjects.

Intellectual curiosity

Intellectual curiosity

Set yourself up for lifelong intellectual growth. Take responsibility for your own learning.

Quantitative literacy

Quantitative literacy

Interpret, represent and summarize information. Use math and statistics to solve problems.

Communication competence

Communication competence

Read and listen carefully. Express ideas (writing or speaking) suited to the audience.

Collaborative leadership

Collaborative leadership

Make decisions and act for the good of the community as a group.

Distinctions

• Two states, three counties and 14 municipalities comprise the Quad Cities (pop. 450,000) along the Mississippi River — a great area for hands-on geography-related experience. The offices of several national environmental agencies and the Rock Island District Headquarters of the Army Corps of Engineers are located here.

• The geography department’s research boat, The Scholarship, takes students and faculty out onto the Mississippi and Rock rivers for research on water resources, urban planning, transportation and biogeography. Some geography students also assist faculty on research projects for area agencies.

• Augustana's Upper Mississippi Center mobilizes students and faculty to help area communities solve their social, economic and environmental challenges. Communities often lack the resources to develop and implement innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. Students and faculty put their expertise and knowledge to work in these real-world settings.

• Many Augustana geography graduates enter graduate programs in geography, urban planning, geomorphology, landscape architecture and environmental studies.

• The geography and the geology departments are housed in Swenson Hall of Geosciences, a proximity that encourages cross-disciplinary work and interests in the earth sciences. Swenson Hall also houses the Fryxell Geology Museum and the bulk of the David M. Loring Map Library, which holds more than 100,000 climatic, geologic, hydrologic, topographic and transportation maps and 6,000 aerial photographs.

Swenson Hall heat map

Augustana College Thermographic Imaging: The first chapter in tracking heat loss at Augustana College, a project by Logan Pierard '21 and geography faculty.

Recent grads

Benjamin Castro '21 is a transportation planner at QC MetroLINK, Quad Cities.

Josh Malone '20 is pursuing a Ph.D. in geological and earth sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and is a graduate research assistant at UT Jackson School of Geosciences.

Hunter Ridley ’20 is completing a two-year honors-affiliated degree in geography at St. John's College at Cambridge University, England.

Mia Gerace '20 is the stormwater coordinator at Lake County (Ill.) Stormwater Management Commission.

Shannon Snyder '18 is a geospatial analyst II at IHS Markit in Denver, Colo.

Madison Vandersee '18 is pursuing a master’s in experiential education and is a graduate assistant at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Erienne Davis ’17 is a geologist (GIS analyst) at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Barrie Chileen ’17 is a geographer at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.

Morgan Anderson
More Than I Imagined Morgan Anderson
“The geography department played a huge role in helping me become the successful student I am today.”
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Benjamin Bruster
More Than I Imagined Benjamin Bruster
“I used my Augie Choice for East Asia term. As an aspiring geographer, I enjoyed seeing and learning about Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.”
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Marissa Iverson
More Than I Imagined Marissa Iverson
“My professors in the geography and environmental studies departments gave me the confidence and support I needed to succeed here.”
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Drone with students

Why did an Augustana GIS class learn to fly?

Classwork: fly drones, create maps for Augustana's facilities department, even become a FAA-certified drone pilot.

Brandon Wilkerson

To find your best career field, choose Augustana

How students go from "undecided" on a major to accomplishing more than they imagined.

Josh Malone

New York Times features 2020 grad's research

Geology/geography double major Josh Malone '20 of Chenoa, Ill., never imagined his Senior Inquiry research would one day be featured in The New York Times.