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Field Experience, Research and Knowledge

In the wide-open landscape of rural Colorado, a group of students gather data about food deserts. The topic is part of their class focus on food and place. They are studying not only how humans impact the landscape, but also how the landscape shapes people’s lives. These students can tell you that geography is far more than examining maps and locations.

As a geography major at UNC, you’ll use scientific exploration to study issues like climate change, urbanization, industrial development, population growth and sustainability, migration, landscape transformation and political cooperation. You’ll have access to a state-of-the-art GIS lab and work side-by-side with expert Geography faculty who support and engage you through research and internship opportunities. And when you graduate, you’ll have skills based on field experience, research and knowledge gained from an immersion in the real-world nature of geography.

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Geographic Information Science (GIS), combines cartography, data management and spatial analysis to create maps that communicate complex information. Download our GIS career guide

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Dr. Jieun Lee
Assistant Professor

Dr. Jieun Lee specializes in spatial analysis to understand the intersection of urban environments, travel behavior, and community health using GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Her search focuses on disparities in accessibility and health through the lens of social equity for marginalized populations due to their income, race and ethnicity, and gender. Since in 2017 she joined UNC’s faculty, Dr. Lee has been involved and working with several UNC students in various research grant projects that explore such intersectionality in Colorado as well as other American communities such as Detroit and New York City. Specifically, her recent studies explore interconnectedness between housing affordability and public health crises such as mental health and Covid-19 in Colorado. Her work has been published in numerous scholarly journals and books, including in the Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Geography and the Handbook of Global Urban Health.

Dr. Lee was also featured in several news media including local newspapers, the London School of Economics Urban Centre’s Politics and Policy blog, and podcast.

Since she joined UNC’s faculty in 2017, Dr. Lee has been teaching a variety of courses including Introductory and advanced GIS including Urban GIS, Crime Mapping, Cartography as well as World regional geography.

Learn More Dr. Lee

Finding Answers to Complex Challenges

Using the latest GIS computer equipment and software, Geography students explore the impact of climate change in the Rocky Mountain region, track the advancement of invasive species and evaluate pollution in local rivers.

“The GIS professors provide you with one-on-one attention. Classes are challenging, yet the faculty are approachable and helpful. The skills I’m learning are applicable to multiple fields of employment.”

- Jenna Williams, GIS Alumna, Class of 2015

Your Future in Geography

Whether you want to work in GIS, or your career goal is to teach social studies in a middle school or high school, geography is a growing field that offers a wide range of career and research opportunities.

Consider UNC's B.A. in Geography if you:

  • Enjoy working with computers
  • Have a strong interest in finding practical solutions to society’s most pressing challenges
  • Possess a deep curiosity about the world’s rich geographic diversity

You’ll learn:

  • Skills and knowledge with sophisticated and specialized software
  • Experience using tools like the large format plotter and specialized software
  • Field experience with geospatial technology
  • Skills that are vital to your specific geographic career or research interest

Sample courses:

  • Cartography
  • Web Mapping
  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Environmental Geography: Earth and Risk
  • Human Geography
  • Landforms, Water and Hazards

Beyond the Classroom

Study abroad in Ghana, Finland, Fiji, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and the Czech Republic. Complete internships in city planning agencies and police departments and join research projects that will add depth to your skills. Learn about study abroad.

Picture Yourself Here

Each summer, our Geography students and faculty partner with the Bureau of Land Management to conduct research along the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, providing valuable information about invasive species.

To learn more about this summer field opportunity and hear about the river program, watch the video on the right.

Where can your degree take you?

You have diverse opportunities for a challenging and fulfilling career when you hold a bachelor’s degree in Geography from UNC. Here are a few of the many positions held by our graduates:

  • GIS and cartographic specialist
  • Urban and regional planner
  • Area studies specialist
  • Resource manager
  • Market researcher
  • Environmental consultant
  • Community or international development specialist
  • Secondary education teacher
  • State department analyst

Current Research in Geography and GIS

Our professors share two equal passions: excellence in research and teaching. One of the true strengths of the Geography program is our professors’ ability to integrate groundbreaking research into the student experience and deliver a level of learning that is rare in higher education. Two of our department’s current research undertakings include:

An Evaluation of Air-Rail Passenger Intermodal Access at US Airports

Timothy Vowles, Ph.D., Geography and GIS, and Andrew Goetz, Ph.D., (University of Denver), National Center for Intermodal Transportation

Even though airports may claim air-rail connections, there’s a wide range in linkage and connection quality. This project’s goal is to assess the quality of intermodal linkages by developing and testing different types of air-rail intermodal access. Vowles and Goetz will assess quality by looking at a range of characteristics, including number of destinations served, the rail system’s scale and scope, and geographic extent of the system serving the airport. From this analysis they hope to explain which airports have the preeminent air-rail connections and provide insight into best practices for other airports to pursue when creating or improving their air-rail connections. They also expect to identify those airports that have truly embraced air-rail intermodal connectivity as part of their urban transit system.

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