Jump to main content

Learn what you can do with a degree from our Geography and Sustainability programs!

Bridging Natural and Social Science

The Department of Geography, GIS, and Sustainability (DoGGS or GGS)  includes the Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Environmental and Sustainability Studies programs.

Students in the Geography program study the environmental, cultural, political and economic processes that produce distinctive local, regional and global patterns across the Earth’s surface. Geography is one of the few academic disciplines that bridge the gap between the natural and social sciences. Geographers analyze how complex interactions among these spatial processes create constantly changing human and natural landscapes across the world.

Students interested in Environmental and Sustainability Studies will learn to understand and address the significant challenges facing a growing human community dependent on finite resources. Environmental and Sustainability Studies uses a dynamic approach that requires the study of multiple disciplines and perspectives to address human problems which require sophisticated understanding of interacting systems: natural, economic, historical, aesthetic, socio-cultural, spatial, and political.

Students can elect to major in in Environmental and Sustainability Studies or Geography with one of three emphasis areas: Geographic Information Sciences (GIS), Global and Area Studies, and Secondary Teaching. Minors are available in Geography, GIS, and Environmental Studies.

Announcements and News

UNC GIS Students Co-lead Annual Mapathon in Support of Humanitarian Efforts

Aerial satellite map

UNC, in partnership with Colorado State University and Front Range Community College, is gearing up for their annual Mapathon — an event where a group of people come together on a particular day to voluntarily work on a collective mapping project. The event, scheduled for Nov. 16, 2022, 4-6 p.m., is in support of Missing Maps, an open, collaborative project co-founded by the American Red Cross that empowers volunteers to map areas where humanitarian organizations are working. The mapathon, part of NOCO GIS Days, is sponsored by UNC’s Department of Geography, GIS and Sustainability and is co-led this year by UNC students Sarah Karr and Joseph Andrade-Schuch, along with local map expert and guest speaker, Mike Thompson. 

For Karr, a senior Psychology major with a double minor in Environmental Studies and GIS, and Andrade-Schuch, a senior Environmental and Sustainability Studies major, the event is an opportunity to not only exercise their leadership and GIS skills, but to be a part of something that has a global impact. “I think this is a really cool thing for UNC to do, because it's solely humanitarian work,” Andrade-Schuch said. “And it's all volunteers who do this, so no one's getting paid. If there's ever a crisis in the area we’re mapping, we're the people who did that. That kind of work makes you feel good.” 

Check out the full article here.

Students Recognized at 2022 Honors Convocation


Geography students Austin Mullins, Nathan Ovalle, and Ana Palacios were recognized on April 10th for excellence in their program. Congratulations! 

Students Recognized at 2022 Honors Convocation

honorsEnvironmental Sustainability students Kathryn Haskins, Timothy Chambers, Tyler DeLorenzo, Madeline Ponce Valenzuela, and Audrey Tubbs were recognized on April 10th for excellence in their program. Congratulations! 

Faculty Recognized for Scholarly Excellence

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences recognized outstanding faculty on April 14, 2019. Dr. Karen Barton was awarded the College Scholar Award. Congratulations!

"Social Determinants of Health in Colorado" project receives grant

Jieun Lee and Ivan Ramirez (Instructor, University of Colorado) received a grant of $41,298 from Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab Funding for their project “Social Determinants of Health in Colorado:  Spatial Analysis of Housing Affordability, Health  Issues, and Health Care Accessibility.” Using statewide data at the census-tract level, this study will employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to investigate the spatial relationships between asthma prevalence, lead exposure, and mental health (defined as suicide mortality, alcohol consumption, and substance overdose) as compared to availability of affordable housing and medical/mental health care accessibility. This study will result in a series of maps that can assist the state and other governmental partners to more effectively implement affordable housing and health care accessibility strategies.

Learn more about the project

Expedition to educate! A look into UNC study abroad

Dannon Cox with the Graduate Student Association recently published a podcast with special guest Dr. Karen Barton in which she discusses the impact study abroad programs have on students, as well as her upcoming expedition to Nepal. 

Listen to the podcast

Geography student completed NASA DEVELOP internship

Jennifer Mehren worked with the Intermountain West Ecological Forecasting Team on developing predictive model to help locate potential locations for Lodgepole pine stands in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in order to point to vulnerable stands in case of a future Mountain Bark Beetle infestation. Among other, more technical, deliverables her team produced a 3 minute video on their project and methods.

Watch the video

Geography, GIS & Sustainability Student Spotlight

Logan Myers, an Anthropology and Geography major, had the opportunity to go overseas to Spain over the summer and conduct Underwater Archaeological research. The school he was a part of focused on an ancient Roman military port that was embedded in one of Spain's coastal bays.

His team built off of previous seasons' data and expanded the school's knowledge of the bay's underwater environment. Their techniques for data collection involved scuba diving at a depth of about 10-25 meters while surveying the ocean floor for artifacts. When his team found an object of interest, the items data was collected via GPS points, pictures, and video to use for ArcGIS mapping, possible artifact recovery, and protection of the artifact from looters. Overall, this experience allowed him to travel to a foreign location surrounded by dedicated individuals doing what he loves and, in his opinion, the school was second to none as it sparked the beginning of his lifelong career. 

smiling students

Into the Arctic

Professor Jimmy Dunn and a crew of five students headed north for summer research and discovery in the Canadian Arctic. 

"I don't think there's a more profound way to learn than to do something like this."

Read more about the Arctic Journey 

Careers in Geography, GIS & Sustainability

When you choose to pursue a career in Geography, GIS, or Sustainability, you'll have many options and opportunities for specialization and focus. Career paths include work in business, with community organizations, in GIS, government, natural science, planning, resource management, sustainability, teaching and transportation. Take a look at the type of work you'll be doing, and read about some of our alumni in the field. 

GEOGRAPHY & GIS CAREERS    Environmental & Sustainability Careers

Geography and GIS Career Options