Geography is not memorizing state capitals. As history is to time, geography is to place. It is the character of a place, its culture, environment, and ecology.
Geography is an interdisciplinary field of study that offers you a rich body of knowledge about the character of diverse places. It focuses on the cultural, environmental, political, economic, and demographic processes shaping the world we live in. The discipline of Geography ranges from a broad and comprehensive understanding of the world to the specifics of computer generated maps and geo-demographic analysis. Geographers make extensive use of computer skills to analyze a wide range of issues, including urban restructuring, habitat preservation, retail location, landscape evolution, economic development, demographic change, and evolution of the global economy.
With training in both the natural and social sciences, geographers have a wide range of careers in government, the private sector, and education. Geographers create digital maps, work with census data, help locate retail and service stores, work in local, state, and federal parks, analyze land use, work as urban planners and business consultants, teach, and hold a wide variety of other jobs. The study of geography can be divided into four broad areas:
Almost all majors do independent research and hold internships. Internships throughout the department are varied and challenging. Students have been placed at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Dayton-Hudson Corp., Land Management Information Center, conservation districts, and many other public agencies and private firms.
Student-faculty research collaborations are common in Geography. The department is small and effective with close working relationships among students and faculty. Many students conduct applied research in conjunction with faculty members, and are funded through grants from the Bush Foundation, Young Scholars awards, the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium, and other public and private agencies. Most of these students present their research at local, regional, and national conferences such as Bush Foundation-sponsored events at St. Thomas, the Minnesota Academy of Sciences, the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium, the Association of American Geographers, and National Conferences for Undergraduate Research.
More than half of recent graduates have gone on to graduate schools and many have studied abroad in regions such as the Baltic nations, Scotland, Australia, Egypt, Brazil, Japan, India, New Zealand, and Costa Rica.
The employment outlook for those in the technical area of geography is outstanding. There is also some demand for geography teachers. St. Thomas graduates in the field have jobs in private industry and at research institutes in GIS management. Other jobs include management of wetlands for a conservation district, finding new service areas for gas lines for a Minnesota power company, building a stream database for a pollution control agency, and building a public land survey for a natural resources department. All of these positions utilize GIS.