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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography


Department Research Topics

About Geography at USC

The Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina was established in 1963 and is the only program in the state to offer undergraduate (B.A. and B.S.) and graduate (M.A., M.S. and Ph.D.) degrees in geography. We endeavor to maintain a balanced program of research, undergraduate and graduate teaching, and outreach and service that covers the breadth of geography. 

Broad areas of interest and expertise in our department include:

Physical/Environmental Geography. Physical geographers in our department investigate patterns and processes associated with the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, and explore the causes and consequences of their environmental variability over time and space. Specialized expertise includes climatology and meteorology, fluvial and aeolian geomorphology, hydrology, and biogeography and landscape ecology. Many of our physical geographers utilize geospatial technologies in their work.

Human Geography. Human geography in our department emphasizes questions of identity, social difference, and inequality in diverse geographical contexts. Human geographers in our department strive to understand how people construct social meanings and social identities through space, and how they enforce, contest or negotiate the power relations embedded in specific places. Our human geographers are also keen to explore place-based transformations stemming from conflict, immigration, economic development, and changing modes of governance. Research and teaching topics include urbanization, cultural landscapes, globalization, migration, economic geography, and world regions.

Environment-Society Relationships. Faculty working in this area explore interactions between human societies and the natural environment and seek to understand how people shape and adapt to changing environmental conditions. Our faculty embrace an integrative perspective that considers complex interrelationships between natural systems, human behavior, and systems of governance from local to global scales. Our faculty specialize in a range of topic areas, including political ecology, human adaptation to environmental change, natural resource use and management, and environmental hazards.

Geographic Information Science. GISci in our department engages with a wide spectrum of geospatial technologies, applications, and methodologies that together produce the Digital Earth. Our GISci faculty and staff use geospatial techniques to address geographic questions relating to hazards, public health, population, environment and climate change. Faculty research focuses on photogrammetry, satellite image analysis, LiDAR, GIS modeling, geovisualization, spatial programming and big data. We also lead the campus GIS program and the USGIF GEOINT Certificate program at USC. Geography students have access to a range of general and specialized courses in geographical information systems, remote sensing and cartography.