B.A. Geography, Environmental Studies

Environmental geographers or human-environmental geographers describe the spatial aspects of coupled human-environment systems or the interactions between people or societies and the physical environment. As such, environmental geography is sometimes called the third branch of geography, since much of the work of environmental geographers happens at the intersection of geography's two traditional branches: human geography and physical geography.  

What is particularly valuable about studying the environment through a geographic lens is that environmental issues are analyzed from perspectives from the humanities, from social science, and from natural science. This broad-level analysis allows geographers to analyze environmental problems in a more holistic manner. In addition, geographers harness the power of advanced technologies such as remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze coupled human-environment systems. 

Environmental geographers hold several advantages when seeking employment in their field. Environmental geographers typically have training in natural resources and physical sciences, environmental ethics, economics, public policy, and technology (GIS for example).  

Read on to learn more about the experiences of most students in the B.A. Geography, Environmental Studies option.

“Ever since I had an interest in the environment, my main focus was protecting it. Interning with the Chester County Conservation District aided in my knowledge/experience with environmental conservation. Knowing that I was able to intern with a company/people that share the same interest as I do was great and made the experience so worth it. ”

- Matt Cabry | B.A. Geography, 2017

Environmental Studies Curriculum

See our curriculum guide for the B.A. Geography, Environmental Studies option.

Blue Sheet

Complete Environmental Studies in Four Years

See our template for completing the B.A. Geography, Environmental Studies option.


Minor in Environmental Geography

See our curriculum guide for the minor in Environmental Geography

Grey Sheet

Internships and Theses

Learn more about the internships and research experiences where students apply their geographic knowledge to real world problems and issues.

Student Experiences

Field Work and Travel

Field work is a common component of several environmental studies classes.

Students will conduct:

  • ecological inventories of specific contrasting environments;
  • analysis of community characteristics of various forest environments;
  • physical, chemical, and biological assessments of stream water quality;
  • wetland determination;
  • analysis of human modifications to environment on local micrometeorology;
  • site visits to waste management and hydroelectric and nuclear power plant facilities.

Many of the field projects have been performed in service learning projects to the local community, including Pfizer Pharmaceuticals (stream restoration project), Lancaster County Conservancy (biotic evaluations of newly acquired lands), and several elementary schools (analysis of school stream on Environment Day).

Students gain experience using field equipment such a soil augers, psychrometers, anemometers, GPS units, LaMotte water quality test kits, kick-nets for stream macroinvertebrate collection, water quality probes, and Stroud Stream Ecology Leaf Pack Kits. In addition, students gain experience using a wide variety of environmental data resources.

Other field opportunities are available as part of other courses in related programs, student research, and various travel-related programs at or affiliated with MU. For example, students have traveled and studied in Costa Rica, Iceland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and China. 

Hands-on exercises and activities

Hands on exercises are a key component of learning in the environmental studies option, as students apply the techniques they learn further developing analytical and critical thinking skills. 

A few examples include:

  • Habitat fragmentation impacts on song bird population and wood turtle dispersal;
  • Using GIS for mapping and analyzing distributions for reserve design;
  • Island biogeography: how park size and condition affect the number of species protected; 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions inventories; calculating the climate impact of Millersville University;
  • Protecting our water supply: meeting groundwater recharge regulations in a suburban development project;
  • Determining air pollution dispersal to protect an environmentally-sensitive area;
  • Using National Wildlife Service Habitat Evaluation Procedures to measure the wildlife impact of a construction project;
  • Using the mass-balance approach to calculate water pollution from power plant cooling operations;
  • Using geographic, economic, political, and social criteria to evaluate current and proposed environmental policy;
  • Actively participating in the environmental policy formation process by attending local and state meetings;
  • Managing a fishery to reveal the challenges presented by common property resources.

Course Descriptions

You may view course descriptions at the bottom of our Programs page.

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