Geoenvironmental Studies at Ship

Geoenvironmental studies is the study of air, land, and water resources. The field integrates the study of the physical and cultural aspects of the environment into a meaningful framework to solve environmental problems with an emphasis on technology, fieldwork, and employment.

Geoenvironmental studies is also an integral part of environmental analysis, environmental management, environmental science, and environmental planning. Consulting firms, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations hire individuals with a strong geoenvironmental studies background.

Geoenvironmental Studies is the most popular major in the Geography and Earth Science Department, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a growing, in-demand program. The undergraduate program in geoenvironmental sciences is designed to produce broadly trained scientists with a holistic understanding of the environment, with an emphasis on Geotechnology (GIS and GPS) and practical experience (field research, internships).

Shippensburg University is well known for the quality of its academic program in geoenvironmental studies. The Association of American Geographers ranked the department as one of the country's top ten undergraduate departments. Many graduates of the geoenvironmental studies program hold jobs in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Spatial analysis is extremely important in geoenvironmental studies. All areas of employment are using geographic information systems (GIS) to portray and analyze data. A variety of computer mapping and analysis courses are available from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Department of Geography and Earth Science. Such courses may include GIS, cartography, remote sensing, quantitative methods, and image processing.

The department has a strong internship program where students obtain practical experience. In some cases, an internship develops into full-time employment after graduation. An alumni network can assist students in the job selection process, too. The high caliber of work done by Shippensburg interns has enabled the university to establish and maintain internships with governmental and private agencies such as:

  • Environmental and engineering consulting firms
  • National Audubon Society
  • National and state parks
  • Federal agencies
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • County planning commissions
  • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Business firms
  • GIS consultants

Employers in the environmental field increasingly recognize the need for broadly trained environmental scientists who can bridge the gap between social science (geography, planning, land use), physical science (geology, hydrology, geomorphology), and aspects of natural systems. Geoenvironmental studies combines the background of geography and earth science to understand the earth's environmental systems.

Geoenvironmental studies is a growing area of employment. It is estimated during the next decade that over 600,000 new jobs will be created in environmental sciences in the United States. The improvement of air, land, and water resources is one of the crucial issues facing the US today. Government and business leaders are increasingly adding employees to help with the improvement of environmental quality, environmental impact assessment, and conservation programs.

Most geographers and earth scientists work in one of five basic career fields:

  • Business
  • Government
  • Teaching
  • Planning
  • Consulting

Within these fields, they are called upon for their expertise in such areas as selecting favorable locations for capital investments, developing effective strategies for corporate or governmental planning, environmental planning and land use analysis, geology and atmospheric studies, cartography, computer applications, geographic information systems, and educating all age groups about proper use of our environment.

Career opportunities are growing rapidly in fields such as:

  • Environmental sciences
  • Environmental planning
  • Regional analysis
  • Local and state governments
  • Remote sensing
  • Geographic information systems
  • Environmental impact analysis
  • Water resources
  • Hydrology
  • Land use planning
  • Students will develop proficiency in communication and analytical skills as applied in the geosciences
  • Students will develop mastery of substantive disciplinary knowledge focusing on the six elements of geography outlined in the National Geography Standards: Geography for Life (The world in spatial terms, places &regions, physical systems, human systems, environment & society, and the uses of geography)
  • Students will develop proficiency in one or more of the geotechniques: GIS, Cartography, Remote Sensing, Image Processing, Quantitative Methods, or Field Techniques
  • Students will participate in an applied capstone internship experience and/or field studies course
  • Students will appreciate using geographic perspectives, which will serve as a basis for life-long learning

The high school college-preparatory program should provide the basic foundation for majoring in geoenvironmental studies. A good background in the natural sciences, computer science, social sciences, and well-developed communication skills will be of great value. Work experience in any area of the environmental sciences is desirable.

Majors complete the required 48 credits of general education, receiving background in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, history, English, and communication skills. These general education courses compliment discipline-specific courses in earth science, geography, and a variety of natural sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and mathematics. Students can also choose from a wide variety of minor fields of study.

The Geography and Earth Science Department has three student organizations that you can join:

Students are also encouraged to join professional organizations within the discipline:

Geography/Earth Science
Shearer Hall 104, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1685
Department Website