Jul 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2024-2025 
College Catalog 2024-2025


Full Time Faculty: Holly R. Barcus, I-Chun Catherine Chang, Eric D. Carter, Xavier Haro-Carrión, William G. Moseley, Laura J. Smith, Daniel Trudeau (Chair), David A. Lanegran (Emeritus); Instructor: Ashley Nepp, and Part-time Faculty: Kelsey McDonald.

Students come to Macalester so that they can make a difference as global citizens. Geography provides a unique foundation for this work, with its integrative approach to human-environment issues and use of geospatial analysis techniques. Macalester’s Geography Department is committed to fostering inclusive and supportive learning environments that welcome everybody. Our students, alumni, and faculty promote community resilience in a changing world through their work on sustainable food systems, public health, environmental justice, efficient and equitable transportation systems, support for rural livelihoods, land use and land cover change, and planning for socially just and environmentally sustainable cities. Our students and faculty complement this work through leadership in Macalester’s interdisciplinary concentrations. Whatever the topic of focus, the Geography Department supports its students to make an impact by preparing them to apply geographical analysis tools and conceptual insights to understand and solve dynamic problems, create compelling maps and data visualizations, communicate the value of thinking geographically with diverse public audiences, and engage collaboratively with communities in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Geographers bring systems thinking and detailed attention to the ways that context shapes process in order to think critically and take informed action on challenges we face in the world today. This “Geographic perspective”, combined with skills in data analysis, visualization, and public communication, as well as an ability to see how theory relates to real-world situations, positions students to excel in a variety of careers. 

All over the world people come together to work towards common goals, so in Geography, we encourage our majors to learn collaborative skills early. Many of our course assignments are project-based where you will work together in small groups. Students often form bonds through these assignments, and in the upper-level classes, frequently have the opportunity to assist local nonprofits or government agencies on issues like transit development or preserving freshwater resources.

Career Orientation

The study of geography prepares students to enter a wide range of planning, environmental, and analytical careers, as well as the field of education. Students go on to graduate programs in geography, urban and regional planning, community and international development, environmental management, architecture, and business. In recent years, several graduates have gone into careers in cartography, geographic information science, non-profit work, environmental management, and international affairs.

General Distribution Requirement

All geography courses count toward the general distribution requirement in social science except courses numbered GEOG 220 GEOG 614 , GEOG 624 , GEOG 634 , and GEOG 644 GEOG 220 GEOG 204 GEOG 372 , and GEOG 378  count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and US identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information about general distribution requirements and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The geography department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the department are available from either the department office or the Academic Programs and Advising Office.


Over the past several years the department, in cooperation with the Career Exploration Office, has sponsored preprofessional internships in a variety of natural resource and planning agencies, consulting firms, and community organizations. In some internships, students are paid for their work.

Further Preparation

To meet requirements for graduate study, students with majors or minors in geography should select supplementary courses from the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities and fine arts in consultation with their department advisors. It is also desirable that students preparing for graduate study take an advanced geospatial course (e.g., GEOG 362 - Remote Sensing of the Environment GEOG 364 - GIS and Community Partnerships GEOG 365 - Urban GIS , or GEOG 368 - Health GIS ), or a geographical analysis course, GEOG 277 - Qualitative Research Methods in Geography , and one of the 400-level research seminars in the department.

For other opportunities in related areas of study, see the catalog description of urban studies, international studies, environmental studies, computer science, community and global health, food, agriculture and society, and various area studies programs.


The Macalester Geography Award for Excellence of Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding senior majoring in geography. The David A. Lanegran Award, named for the longest serving member of the department, is presented to a student or students in recognition of significant contributions to the community life of the department. The Hildegard Binder Johnson Prize in Geography, named for the founder of the department, is awarded annually to academically outstanding students in geography. In addition, exceptional majors and minors in geography are eligible for membership in Epsilon Kappa, the Macalester chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the national honor society in geography. 

Topics Courses

GEOG 194 , GEOG 294 , GEOG 394 , GEOG 494  

Examination of special topics of interest to faculty and students, such as a study of the processes by which the spatial environment is cognitively organized by people, geographical problems in economic development, regions of the world, etc. To be announced at registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.