The Undergraduate Geography Experience at SUNY Cortland - Faculty Perspective

Authors: Ibipo Johnston-Anumonwo*, SUNY Cortland, Melinda Shimizu, SUNY Cortland, Christopher Badurek, SUNY Cortland, Wendy Miller, SUNY Cortland, Scott Anderson, SUNY Cortland
Topics: Geography Education
Keywords: Undergraduate Experience, Geography Education,
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


SUNY Cortland, with an estimated enrollment of 6000 undergraduates, is a public comprehensive 4-year college in Upstate New York, known for its large teacher education programs. There are approximately thirty undergraduate students in the geography department with five full-time and three adjunct faculty. The department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in GIS, a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, as well as minors in GIS and Geography. With the creation of the GIS major in 2002, most students are currently GIS majors concentrating in Geospatial Applications. The presenters are faculty representing the department’s evolution from a twentieth century traditional program to an applied GIS-centered twenty-first century one, while retaining a central role of human-environmental course offerings serving the college’s general education program. The faculty teach Cultural, Human and Physical Geography, and Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced GIS courses. Geography department faculty are also members of a learning community of pre-majors in the college, an initiative created primarily to utilize collaborative active-learning pedagogy for facilitating first year students’ successful adjustment to college. This experience can also potentially guide undecided students to choosing a major in geography. Changes in enrollment of traditional Geography and GIS majors, along with changes in education requirements in the college has created a challenge of balancing GIS and mainstream geography offerings. Presenters will share new directions and initiatives in the department and look forward to learning best practices from other undergraduate programs for preparing the next generation of geographers for graduate school and careers.

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