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Grand Valley State University    
2015-2016 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Sep 20, 2018
2015-2016 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Geography and Planning - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.


Geography and Planning Department phone number : 616-331-3065

This program includes the geography major (B.S. and B.A.), geographic techniques (GIS and remote sensing) minor, the urban and regional planning minor, the geography education at the secondary level minor (teachable minor), the Geographic Information Systems technology certificate, and sustainable urban and regional planning certificate.

The geography and planning curriculum at GVSU integrates the natural and social sciences and geospatial technologies and offers students strong analytical and problem solving skills. Geography and planning areas offer a wide range of opportunities to people with various interests and talents focusing on finding real solutions to complex environmental, economic and social problems and issues (such as food and water security, sustainable economic growth, environmental justice, climate change adaptations, etc.). Geographers and planners use many tools and techniques in their work, and geographic technologies are increasingly important for understanding our complex world. They include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and computer cartography.

Our flexible interdisciplinary programs provide courses of study focused on the environment and sustainable development, urban and regional planning, geospatial technologies (cartography, satellite remote sensing, and GIS), and global and regional analysis.

Our department specializes in a number of areas of study including sustainable development and global change, geospatial technologies (Geographic Information Systems, satellite remote sensing, and Geopositioning Systems), sustainable city and regional planning, environmental  geography.

Due to the revolution in geospatial information technologies and spatial data analysis, geographers are very much in demand in the job market and in graduate school. Please consult the department’s website for student “success stories” at

Degrees Offered

B.S. and B.A. in geography. (36 credit hours). Geography major offers flexible self-designed focus areas in geospatial technology, sustainable urban and regional planning, sustainable development and environmental geography.

Minors: city and regional planning (24 credits), geographical techniques (25 credits), and geography education at the secondary level (teachable minor) (24 credits). A teachable major with elementary and secondary education is also offered in social studies with a geography emphasis.

Students seeking teacher certification in geography should note that besides geography, the new Michigan State Board of Education standards require basic knowledge of economics, history and political science. Students should take ECO 211, PLS 102, and HST 206 or the equivalent to obtain basic knowledge in economics, political science and history.

Certificates: Geographic information systems technology certificate (13 credit hours) and sustainable urban and regional planning (12 credit hours). Available to all majors, certificate credit hours can be duplicated with a major or minor.

For more information about geography and planning degrees, please, contact professor Elena Lioubimtseva at

Participating Programs

The Department of Geography and Planning participates in the social studies major.  The major in social studies is designed for students seeking teacher certification in secondary or middle school social studies or in elementary education.  The major includes a minimum of 42 credit hours in economics, geography, history, and political science.  Students seeking teacher certification also complete an appropriate minor and the professional program offered by the College of Education.  The social studies major meets State of Michigan content standards for teacher preparation in social studies, which require at least six credit hours and two courses in each of the four disciplines and at least 18 credits and six courses in one of the four areas.

Honors Organizations

Lambda Omega is GVSU’s Chapter of the Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geography Honor Society. Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) is an international honor society in geography. Gamma Theta Upsilon was founded in 1928 and became a national organization in 1931. Members of GTU have met academic requirements and share a background and interest in geography. GTU chapter activities support geography knowledge and awareness.

GTU’s goals are:

  1. To further professional interest in Geography by affording a common organization for those interested in the field.
  2. To strengthen student and professional training through academic experiences in addition to those of the classroom and laboratory.
  3. To advance the status of Geography as a cultural and practical discipline for study and investigation.
  4. To encourage student research of high quality, and to promote an outlet for publication.
  5. To create and administer funds for furthering graduate study and/or research in the field of Geography.
  6. To encourage members to apply geographic knowledge and skills in service to humankind.


The following programs are available: 

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Geography  

Geographic Techniques Minor  

Urban and Regional Planning Minor  

Geography-Teacher Certification Minor  

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technology - Certificate  

Certificate in Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning