Undergraduate Studies


The significance of geography is perhaps no more apparent than in the environment around us. Landscapes, soils, climate, and the life they sustain vary dramatically from global and regional scales down to the microscopic. On their own, these systems are highly complex and interactive. Add the ways in which we modify and use the natural environment and our vulnerability to hazards and extremes, and clearly the human dimension is vital part of environmental science. The curriculum in Natural Environmental Systems blends background in the physical sciences with human management approaches to the environment. Curricular specialties include plant biogeography, climatology, forest ecology and management, soil-plant interactions, soil science, conservation, environmental planning, soil and land use geography, landscape geomorphology, and water resources.

Students having completed the undergraduate degree in Geography with a specialization in Natural Environmental Systems have gone on to successful careers in: environmental planning, parks & forests management, land suitability analysis, soil science, conservation ecology, flood plain/wetlands mapping, climate impact analysis, waste management, soil analysis/soil testing, environmental remediation, precision agriculture, environmental engineering, natural hazards warning & mitigation, soil mapping, environmental risk assessment, wetlands reclamation, and prairie restoration, and pursued graduate degrees in geography, climatology, environmental science, soil science, and agronomy.

The department offers programs of study leading to the B.A. and B.S. in Geography. The major in Geography with specialization in Natural Environmental Systems entails 24 semester hours of required coursework bridging the human, environmental, and cartographic traditions of Geography, with an additional 12 semester hours of electives in Natural Environmental Systems. Students pursuing this specialization are encouraged to follow the B.S. track with its one-year sequence in mathematics and one-year sequence in laboratory science. For some career tracks, we may also recommend a second one-year sequence of laboratory science (biology, chemistry, or physics). Class sizes in required courses average between 35 and 50, while enrollments in Natural Environmental Systems electives are often between 10 and 20. The northern Illinois region offers substantial opportunities for education-to-career experiences through internships with state & local governments, environmental agencies, and private sector organizations.

Undergraduate Coordinator Thomas Pingel

Undergraduate Catalog Geography Major