The specialization in Geography is a newly created specialization within the doctoral program in Earth and Environmental Sciences founded in 1985. The program provides an opportunity to pursue doctoral studies in geography in one of the world’s largest and most dynamic metropolitan locations with a diverse faculty based either full-time at the Graduate Center or holding joint appointments with the undergraduate and master’s programs offered at Hunter and Lehman Colleges within the CUNY system. The program has six core areas: Cities and Urban Processes, Physical Geography, Globalization and Uneven Development, Productions of Nature, Geographic Information Science and Spatial Methods, and Health Geographies.. Many faculty members participate in more than one core area and students are encouraged to do likewise. Students are permitted to combine courses from the Geography Specialization with those in the Geosciences more generally. They are also encouraged to take courses in related disciplines – particularly Anthropology, Environmental Psychology, and Women’s Studies – which house faculty members with connections to geography.


Core Research Areas

Cities and Urban Processes

Located in the heart of Manhattan, the program aims to combine a general understanding of the role of cities in regional, national, and international developments with deep analysis of the elements that make the city what it is: the built environment, transportation systems, migration flows, ethnic and religious differentiation, and the cultural, economic, and social uses of space. Within the varying frameworks of location theory, political economy, and political ecology, faculty research encompasses transportation system modeling, retail and consumption patterns, business location (including financial services), urban governance and administration, the role of philanthropic institutions and NGOs, social differentiation, transnational migration, gentrification, economic practices of the household, the environmental impacts of urbanization and sustainable urban development, climate change, urban health, social movements, public space and privatization of urban space, urban daily life, the ongoing urban transformation, and the dynamics of interregional and inter-urban relations in their global context. Social theorists examine the production of space and questions of race, gender, class, and ethnic differentiations in the urban and regional context.

Physical Geography

Studies of the physical environment, at all spatial and temporal scales, have always been important. In the context of environmental problems facing humanity in the twenty-first century, an appreciation of the earth system, including all its components and their interactions, is even more critical. To understand, mitigate, and/or adapt to any significant environmental problem, from urban pollution to global climate change, an interdisciplinary approach including aspects of physical science working in conjunction with other disciplines is usually essential. Faculty members are conducting research in a diverse array of fields, including climatology, geology, atmospheric sciences, oceanographic sciences, and remote sensing of the earth’s environment. Research projects focus on subdisciplines such as geochemistry, paleoclimate, land-surface interactions, hydrology, climate change, and cryospheric studies. Students are encouraged to avail themselves of opportunities to work on research projects with CUNY faculty, as well as with experts from other institutions. Many students are currently working in one of our active laboratories, including a geochemistry laboratory, a computer-based environmental geosciences laboratory, and a climate laboratory. Our students have participated in the NOAA-CREST (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center) program, of which CUNY is one of the lead institutions. NOAA-CREST is a partnership between government, academe, and industry to conduct research consistent with NOAA’s missions of environmental assessment, prediction, and stewardship using a variety of modern techniques.

Geographic Information Science and Spatial Methods

Geographic information science deals with the development and applications of the concepts, principles, models, methods, and technologies for gathering, processing, and analyzing geographically referenced data, and effectively communicating the derived information to scientists, engineers, legislators, managers, and the general public for judicious and timely spatial decision-making. Program faculty have active research programs in spatial analysis, GIS programming, participatory GIS, critical GIS, global positioning systems, and remote sensing.  The program covers theoretical aspects and technical issues using a wide range of applications. Particular emphasis is placed on the representation, visualization, and communication of spatial information; models, algorithms, and methodologies for efficient extraction of spatial information from remotely sensed data; spatial statistics and analysis; collaborative spatial decision-making; and innovative applications of geographic information technologies in environmental and resource management, urban and regional planning, international development, public safety, human health, and policy analysis.

Globalization & Uneven Development

A critical investigation of globalization and uneven development is an important focus of the program. Globalization is viewed as a multifaceted process that consists of economic, cultural, and political developments. Its outcomes and challenges to it are studied in many contexts including global North and South as well as post-socialist world.

Productions of Nature

Description forthcoming

Health Geographies

The Health Geographies specialization track focuses upon the spatiality of disease and other public health issues, particularly health in the urban environment.  It explores the intersection of population geography, ecological studies, community health research, epidemiology, environmental analysis, and hazard and risk assessment. The influences of environmental and socio-economic factors upon health are examined in a geographical context. Topics include patterns of health disparities and inequities; environmental health justice; environmental burdens and impacts; differential access to health care and healthy lifeways; the impact of the built environment upon health outcomes; links between health outcomes with social and physical environments; the relationship between social capital and health; patterns of disproportionate vulnerability, exposure, and risk; local-scale and global health inequalities; migration and health; the provision and utilization of health services; the geographies of disease, illness, and disability; and specific gender and age health issues.  Health is studied from a geographical perspective through the relevant theory, methodologies, and research, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, including GISc, spatial analysis, and geostatistics.  The theoretical framework can include the positivist, social interactionist, structuralist, and post-structuralist approaches to the geographies of health.

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