Geography

University of California, Berkeley

Overview

The Department of Geography provides a broad-ranging perspective on humans as inhabitants of Earth, both as transformers of nature and as the creators of social spaces. Geography provides an environmental bridge between the natural and human sciences and an interdisciplinary link among the social sciences and humanities through its concern with space and spatial relations. As geographic theory and research has expanded their horizons over the past quarter-century, three research focuses have emerged to define geography at UC Berkeley: 

  1. Earth System Science

    Earth System Science is the study of the interconnected components of our environment—the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere—and how they interact to produce an integrated whole. It utilizes the fundamental disciplines of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology and applies them in the context of human activities and landscapes to understand the Earth, at scales ranging from single watersheds to the entire globe. It provides a physical basis for understanding the Earth and its changes in the past, present, and future, equipping us with the scientific knowledge we need to find solutions for a sustainable planet.

    The research of our Earth Systems Science faculty epitomizes this interdisciplinary and global approach, and with expertise in biogeochemistry, biogeography, climate dynamics and climate change, geomorphology, glaciology, hydrology, and terrestrial ecology. Our research spans all corners of the world—from the swamps of the Everglades to the tundra of Alaska, from the ocean-atmosphere systems of the tropical Pacific to the vast ice sheets of Antarctica.

  2. Human Geography

    Human Geography is a social science distinguished by its attention to the relation of humanity to the earth, in two regards. The first is the interaction of people with nature, including the extraction of natural resources, the environmental impact of people and their activities, and the effects of natural forces on society. The second is the spatial organization of societies at all scales from the local to the global (and from minutes to millennia) and the production of place, territory, and landscape by human imagination and activity.

    We build on Berkeley Geography’s long tradition of cutting-edge research that combines diverse methods to address questions of public importance in creative and compelling ways.  Our faculty and graduate students work all around the world and explore an enormous range of topics: forest and range utilization in North America, urban development in China, agrarian change and resource extraction in Africa, conflict and human rights in Latin America, and much more. We examine borders and migration; conservation and development; globalization and governance; while attending closely to the roles of race, gender, and class and of science, technology and economy in shaping the world around us.

    We encourage work that spans disciplinary divides, both between physical and human geography and between geography and other fields. We are proud of our longstanding commitment to advancing theoretical inquiry through research that is solidly grounded in the real world and to teaching and scholarship that address public problems and needs.

  3. Geospatial Representation and Analysis

    Advances in digital technologies have revolutionized how scholars, governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations collect, store, analyze and represent information about space, place, flows and locations. Even as the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has become ubiquitous, it has been superseded for research purposes by advances in spatial analysis, simulation modeling, remote sensing, web-based mapping, and geo-visualization. These technologies apply to the study of biophysical and social systems alike, and they are beginning to show potential to erode the practical and pedagogical obstacles that have historically separated quantitative and qualitative methods, Human and Physical Geography. Our faculty use them to model global climate and coastal sediment dynamics, gentrification, segregation, transit and public health. We encourage students to use these tools critically and creatively to answer pressing questions about the contemporary world. Geography students are expected to have diverse interests and independent thought. The department welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds, including those with professional experience who wish to deepen their education. Students are encouraged to roam freely through the curriculum and to follow their inspiration where it leads while working in tandem with faculty advisers. Graduate students often use two or three faculty members in equal measure (including faculty affiliates and members from other departments) and collaborate with faculty on research, writing, and teaching. Students are expected to read extensively, develop their research, technical, and teaching skills, and produce well-crafted papers, projects, theses, and dissertations.

Undergraduate Programs

Geography: BA, Minor

Graduate Program

Geography: PhD

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Courses

Geography

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Faculty

Jeffrey Q. Chambers, Associate Professor. Forests, climate change, trees, tropical forests, remote sensing, Drought.
Research Profile

Sharad Chari, Associate Professor. Geography as history of the present and as Earth/world-writing, social theory, political economy, development, agrarian studies, labor and work, racial/sexual capitalism, Black radical tradition, biopolitical struggle, oceanic humanities, photography, South Asia, South Africa, Indian Ocean.
Research Profile

John Chiang, Professor. Climate change, climate dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interactions, paleoclimate.
Research Profile

Kurt Cuffey, Professor. Continuum mechanics, climate, geomorphology, glaciers, glaciology, climate history, stable isotopes, geographical thought.
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William E. Dietrich, Professor. Morphology, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, evolution of landscapes, geomorphic transport laws, landscape evolution modeling, high resolution laser altimetry, cosmogenic nuclide analysis.
Research Profile

You-Tien Hsing, Professor. China, geography, political economy of development in East Asia, the process of international economic restructuring, cultural and institutional configuration in the processes of Taiwanese direct investment, growth in Chinese cities, business networks.
Research Profile

G. Mathias Kondolf, Professor. Ecological restoration, landscape architecture, environmental planning, fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, environmental geology, environmental impact assessment, riparian zone management.
Research Profile

Jake Kosek, Associate Professor. Cultural politics of nature and difference; cultural geography, science and technology studies; critical race theory; critical cartography; biopolitics; human and the non-human; and environmental politics.

Laurel G. Larsen, Assistant Professor. Hydroecology, geomorphology, complex systems, restoration ecology, environmental modeling, wetlands, sediment transport, environmental fluid mechanics.
Research Profile

Jovan Scott Lewis, Assistant Professor. Jamaica and the USA; constructions and infrastructures of poverty, inequality, race (blackness), economy, and the market.
Research Profile

Beatriz Manz, Professor. Latin America, human rights, peasantry, migrations, social movements, political conflict, Mayan communities in Guatemala, issues of memory, grief.
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David O'Sullivan, Associate Professor. Spatial analysis, complexity, spatial models.
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Robert Rhew, Associate Professor. Geography, terrestrial-atmosphere exchange of trace gases, atmospheric chemistry and composition, halogen biogeochemistry, stratospheric ozone depletion issues, coastal salt marsh, chaparral, desert, tundra, boreal forest, grassland.
Research Profile

Nathan F. Sayre, Associate Professor. Climate change, endangered species, rangelands, political ecology, pastoralism, ranching, environmental history, suburbanization, human-environment interactions, environmental geography, range science and management, Southwestern US, scale, community-based conservation.
Research Profile

Harley Shaiken, Professor. Mexico, labor, globalization, education, United States, geography, work organization, issues of economic and political integration in the Americas, information technology, skill.
Research Profile

David B. Wahl, Assistant Adjunct Professor.

Affiliated Faculty

Teresa Caldeira, Professor. Comparative urban studies, urbanization in the global south, social theory, ethnography. qualitative methodology.
Research Profile

Pheng Cheah, Professor. Nationalism, rhetoric, legal philosophy, feminism, 18th-20th century continental philosophy and contemporary critical theory, postcolonial theory and anglophone postcolonial literatures, cosmopolitanism and globalization, social and political thought.
Research Profile

Iryna Dronova, Assistant Professor.
Research Profile

N. Maggi Kelly, Professor.

Nancy L. Peluso, Professor. Political ecology/resource policy and politics/forests/agrarian change/property and access.
Research Profile

John Radke, Associate Professor. City and regional planning, landscape architecture and environmental planning, geographic information systems, database design and construction, spatial analysis, pattern recognition computational morphology.
Research Profile

Isha Ray, Associate Professor. Water and development; Gender, water and sanitation; technology and development.
Research Profile

Raka Ray, Professor. Feminist theory, gender, social movements, South and Southeast Asian studies, relations between dominant subaltern groups in India, women´_s movements in India.
Research Profile

Sally Thompson, Associate Professor. Nonlinear dynamics, spatial ecology, Ecohydrology, surface hydrology, arid and semi-arid watersheds and ecosystems, pattern formation, plant physiology, water resource sustainability.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Alicia Cowart, Lecturer.

Seth R. Lunine, Lecturer.

John Stehlin, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Paul Groth, Professor Emeritus. Architecture, vernacular architecture, urban geography, suburban America, cultural landscape studies, housing (US).
Research Profile

Gillian P. Hart, Professor Emeritus.

Michael Johns, Professor Emeritus. Latin America, development, geography, culture of cities.
Research Profile

Norman Miller, Professor Emeritus. Hydroclimate modeling and assimilation and analysis, climate change impacts to sociology-economic and ecological sectors.
Research Profile

Richard Walker, Professor Emeritus. Race, environment, urbanism, politics, geography, resources, economic geography, regional development, capitalism, cities, California, class.
Research Profile

+ Michael J. Watts, Professor Emeritus. Islam, development, Africa, social movements, political economy, political ecology, geography, South Asia, peasant societies, social and and cultural theory, US agriculture, Marxian political economy.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Geography

507 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-642-3903

Fax: 510-642-3370

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Robert Rhew

539 507 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-643-6984

rrhew@berkeley.edu

Student Academic Adviser (Grad & UG), Lead

Marjorie Ensor

517 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-642-3904

ensor@berkeley.edu

Department Manager

Josh Mandel

513 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-643-8226

jsmandel@berkeley.edu

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