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Survey of Formal and Informal Exposure to Undergraduate Geography in Higher Education in the Southeastern United States

Authors: Nathan Collyer*, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Shannon McCarragher*, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Topics: Geography Education, Higher Education
Keywords: Geography Education, Higher Education, Education Deserts, Geography Minors, Formal Exposure, Informal Exposure
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Exposure to the interdisciplinary field of Geography occurs both formally (e.g. Ph.D. degrees, master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and minors) and informally (e.g. general education Geography courses) in many Higher Education institutions in the United States. Much of the literature about Geography in Higher Education focuses on the formal opportunities available to students through degree granting programs or the pedagogical styles and best teaching practices for Geography. Furthermore, research about Geography in the United Kingdom dominates the literature. There are fundamental obstacles to understanding the role of minor programs, as those numbers are not often widely or publicly reported in the same way that degree granting programs report the number of degrees earned. Nevertheless, programs with only Geography minors or informal Geography exposure opportunities may still play an important role in enhancing students' spatial thinking and visual communication skills. This preliminary study attempts to build on and expand our current understanding of Geography in Higher Education by surveying the informal and formal minor opportunities offered throughout four southeastern states in the US (SC, TN, AR, and MS). More specifically, these states were selected as the focus of this preliminary study because all were previously identified as potential Geography deserts in the literature, given that they all have a low number of Geography bachelor's degrees earned and varying numbers of exams taken in Advanced Placement Human Geography (APHG).

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