The Undergraduate Geography Experience at Hofstra University - Faculty Perspective

Authors: Grant Saff*, Hofstra University
Topics: Geography Education
Keywords: Education, Undergraduate, Global Studies
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


I will be discussing the Undergraduate Geography experience in the Department of Global Studies and Geography at Hofstra University. Hofstra is private university on Long Island (approximately 25 miles east of Manhattan) with an enrollment of around 7,000 undergraduate students (and 4,000 graduate students). The Geography program was created in 1937, but was always a small program located within larger departments (Economics, Geology). In 2008 we created a new Department of Global Studies and Geography. I have been Chair of the Department since inception, during which time we have expanded our curriculum to offer BA majors in Geography and Global Studies, a BS major in GIS and a joint minor in GIS and Computer Science. The program has 6 full-time faculty and varies between 3 – 5 adjunct faculty members. The number of majors (in Global Studies and Geography) grew from less than 10 in 2008, to over 150 in 2013, before declining to just over 100 in 2018. I will discuss the challenges that we have faced in building and sustaining an undergraduate program in the face of increased competition for resources and students. Attention will be paid to recruiting strategies, ways to boost internal and external visibility and the use of complimentary programs (such as Global Studies, Geology) to expand enrollments in geography courses. I will also discuss how the introduction of competing programs has negatively impacted enrollments and the strategies that we have used to mitigate these effects.

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