University of California, Berkeley


UC Berkeley's Geography Department provides a broad-ranging perspective on humans as inhabitants and transformers of the face of the earth. The search for this kind of understanding involves thorough study of (a) the interlocking systems of the natural environment (climate, landforms, oceans, biota) and the evaluation of natural resources; (b) those diverse historical, cultural, social, economic, and political structures and processes which affect the location and spatial organization of population groups and their activities; and (c) significant geographical units, whether described as cities, regions, nations, states or landscapes, where integrated interpretation can be attempted, and a variety of problems thereby better understood.

As geographic theory and research has expanded their horizons over the past quarter-century, five research focuses have emerged to define Geography at Berkeley: 

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. The complex system of interactions is investigated to address questions about current and future sustainability, how environmental changes affect society, and how society influences the environment.

Racial Geographies

Racial Geographies represents an insurgent geography that critically engages with questions of race, drawing from, and contributing to, an intellectual history rooted in anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles. We are concerned with how geography is explicitly and implicitly implicated in the construction and deconstruction of race and its symptoms.

Critical Environments

Critical Environments attends to the complex relations that constitute the material and social dimensions of the modern world. We explore lives and ecologies that emerge together with histories of capitalism, militarism, racism, colonialism, and sexuality.

Geospatial Representation

How peoples and cultures represent space and time are central to understanding the world, shaping the possibilities - and the limits - of our thinking, knowing, and being. We work towards cross-cultural geospatial representations in service to understanding and collaboration across communities. We also encourage antiracist and anticolonial geospatial representation in the service of planetary decolonization, to literally remake the maps and other representational forms that reinforce our divided planet.

Political Economies

Political Economies cuts across metropolitan and Global South/ postcolonial perspectives on contemporary questions concerning capitalist and imperialist dynamics. Berkeley Geography explores political-economic processes through urban, agrarian, and oceanic studies, emphasizing the dynamics of past, present, and future. Berkeley Geography interrogates capitalism, as well as its articulations with other forms of value and devaluation of places and people, through racial, gendered, sexual, and colonial relations. Berkeley Geography also explores human-environment relations and questions concerning social natures and political-ecological processes through the lens of critical political economy.


Undergraduate Programs

Geography: BA, Minor

Graduate Program

Geography: PhD

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Contact Information

Department of Geography

505 McCone Hall #4740

Phone: 510-642-3903

Fax: 510-642-3370

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Department Chair

Jovan Lewis, PhD

597 McCone Hall

Undergraduate Major Advisor

Ambrosia Shapiro

507 McCone Hall

Head Graduate Advisor

John Chiang, PhD

547 McCone Hall

Graduate Student Affairs Officer (GSAO) and Department Scheduler

Bobby Ewing

505 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-664-7698

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