Geography as an academic discipline studies the spatial dimensions of, and links between, culture, society, and environmental processes. The study of Atmospheric Science involves weather and climate and how those affect human activity and life on earth. At the University of Kansas, our department's programs work to understand human activity and the physical world. In geography, to understand human actions in specific regional settings, and how these actions affect the physical environments in the past, present and future. In atmospheric science, to understand the symbiotic dynamics between human activity and physical environmental processes. Within these broad goals, the KU Geography and Atmospheric Science Department focuses on research and education related to global environmental and climate change and how this can be documented through the use of remote sensing and geographic data assimilation techniques; understanding of regional culture and development in North America, Africa, East Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Latin America; and improved use of Geographical Information Science (GIScience) techniques to represent, understand, and communicate data and knowledge over a wide range of spatial scales. We endeavor to meet these goals through teaching, research and outreach to the larger community.
The department has a strong reputation for teaching excellence as reflected by six Kemper teaching awards held by the faculty. Our teaching program reflects the departmental foci, with a B.A. degree emphasizing cultural and regional geography, and B.S. degrees focused on atmospheric and surface processes. We view graduate studies as the interface between research and education where we develop students’ research and teaching skills. Combining a thorough grounding in basic geographic and spatial analysis principles within a cross-disciplinary framework that bridges the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences, we aim to develop future leaders for society.
Although research enquiry is driven largely by individual faculty programs, one of the strengths of the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science is our ability to integrate research within the department with research throughout the University and national programs. For example, our faculty expertise in area studies is diverse, specializing in North America, Africa, East Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Latin America. At the same time these same faculty members form a cohesive group that provide expertise in developing methods and paths of enquiry that can be applied to all regional studies programs. This expertise directly supports KU’s strong area studies programs and international reputation. Developing techniques to study the human impact on the environment provides a second integrating theme for the Department. This involves the use of remotely sensed information, spatial analysis and theoretical process oriented studies. With the ever increasing human impact on the environment, our research involves not only documenting and analyzing environmental change, but also developing data sets and models that allow us to understand the societal implications of these changes. In this way it is our goal to conduct highly relevant research to address questions of societal development into the future.
Diversity and Inclusion
Geography as a discipline is focused on understanding and interpreting the social, cultural and ecological diversity of the Earth. Our department’s program offerings and research interests reflect this diversity through geographic inquiry from a wide-array of perspectives and backgrounds. We are committed to creating an inclusive space for learning and research that promotes our engagement with diverse peoples and ideas. The hiring of faculty and the recruitment and retention of a student body that reflects this diversity is among our highest priorities. Our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness is supported by an engaged student body, the incorporation of diversity and ethics related issues in student and faculty educational programs as well as through course offerings, and departmental colloquia.