Department of Geography (GY)

The department offers programs leading to the PhD and MS degrees in geography which include focused areas of study in earth system science, environment and natural resources, environment and society, or geographical information science. Study in geography prepares students to work in a broad range of positions related to land-use and natural resources management, planning, urban and economic development, environmental analysis, and geographic information techniques including computer cartography, geographic information systems, and remote sensing. These positions are found in federal, state, and local governments, as well as in private industry and in academic institutions.

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Faculty

Chair
  • Douglas J. Sherman
Graduate Director
  • Justin Hart
Professors
  • Seth Appiah-Opoku
  • Kevin Curtin
  • Luoheng Han
  • Hongxing Liu
  • Douglas J. Sherman
  • Michael Steinberg
  • Matthew Therrell
  • Joe Weber
Associate professors
  • Bennett Bearden
  • Sagy Cohen
  • Lisa Davis
  • Justin Hart
  • Jason Senkbeil
Assistant professors
  • David Keellings
  • Matthew LaFevor
  • Nicholas Magliocca
  • Wanyun Shao
Professors emeriti
  • Hobson Bryan
  • David Shankman
  • Bobby Wilson
Instructors
  • Caroline McClure
  • Mary Pitts

Courses

GY
500
Hours
3
Research Traditions Meth In Gy

An investigation of the historical development of geography, including its changing philosophies and prominent contributors. Students are also introduced to various approaches for conducting research in geography and must develop a written research proposal in an area of their interest.

GY
504
Hours
3
Physical Geo of SE US

A study of the physical landscapes in the southeastern United States. Emphasis is on the geological setting, geomorphic features, climate, soils, and vegetation, and the interrelationships of these conditions that shape the landscape in this region.

GY
505
Hours
1-3
Dir Research Physical Geograph

No description available.

GY
506
Hours
1-3
Dir Research Human Geography

No description available.

GY
509
Hours
4
Forest History and Restoration

Investigation of the theories, tools, and techniques used in historical ecology with a focus on the establishment of reference conditions for habitat restoration and management decisions.

GY
510
Hours
3
Geography of National Parks

This course is devoted to the changing geography of the national park system and related protected areas throughout the world, with an emphasis on their design, planning, and operations.

GY
512
Hours
3
Hydroclimatology

To provide a basic understanding of the waters of Earth, especially with relation to the effects of precipitation and evaporation upon the occurence and character of water in streams, lakes and on or below the land surface.

GY
513
Hours
3
Applied Climatology

Applied Climatology is a graduate/senior level course designed to expand upon fundamental concepts learned in GY 101 and also GY 402 (Climatology). Within this broad field, a specific focus in GY 513 concentrates upon climate and human health/behavior, and human modification of climate. The course contains a mixture of lecture, lab, and field assignments.

Prerequisite(s): GY 101 GY 402
GY
514
Hours
3
Climate Change and Health

This course is an introduction to the effect of global climate change on health. The course will be taught from a geographical perspective and will introduce students to the physical science of climate change and the impact it has on health through discussion of extreme weather events, altered ecological systems, and threats to human security and welfare. Discussion will build on the core concepts of climate change science to provide students with a solid foundation to further examine a variety of topics from acute impacts such as heat waves and other weather extremes to chronic conditions such as shifting disease vector habitats, degraded air quality, and food security. Direct correlations between health impacts and climate change will be emphasized throughout as will discussion of mitigation and adaptation strategies.

GY
516
Hours
3
Introduction to Geostatistics Using R

This course is an introduction to geostatistical data analysis using R. The course will be taught from the perspective of geographical and climate data analysis but serves as a broad introduction to the high-level programming language, R, as well as applied spatial data analysis. Students will load and manipulate data of different types, perform a variety of statistical analyses, generate graphical output, and create productive workflows using R alone. The primary outcome will be to facilitate students’ use of R to analyze data of their own choosing on a final project. Students will present these methods to the class for others to critique, analyze and learn from. Code sharing and re-use is highly emphasized, as is collaboration. The course is designed as a 1-hour lecture plus 2-hour lab each week.

GY
517
Hours
3
Extreme Weather and Society

EW&S is an integrated physical and social science (W) seminar class consisting of readings, discussion, and lectures on perception, understanding, and communication of severe weather hazards.

GY
520
Hours
4
Remote Sensing I

Focuses on basic principles behind remote sensing physics, techniques, and technology and introduces new sensor systems and digital image processing. Major topics include electromagnetic radiation principles, airborne remote sensing, microwave remote sensing, satellite remote sensing, and digital image processing.

GY
523
Hours
3
Quantitative Methods

This course introduces several quantitative methods used by geographers to analyze and interpret geographic data and solve geographic problems. Topics include: Data formatting and organization, descriptive statistics, sampling, hypothesis formulation and testing, and parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures through factor analysis.

GY
529
Hours
3
Fundamentals of GIS

This course is a hands-on, practical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) introduction. GIS is a computer-based system used for gathering, analyzing, and displaying geographic information. GIS enables users to integrate multiple spatial data sources, perform complex geographic analysis and present the results in digital and paper map. This technology has a wide range of applications for research, businesses and governments. Tailored toward first-time users, this course will focus on learning how to use the ArcGIS software package to import, generate, display and analyze spatial data.

GY
530
Hours
4
Intro Geographic Info Systems

Introduces the basic concepts of GIS, including definition and components of GIS, spatial data structures, data sources, data input, manipulation and analysis, applications of GIS, and managing GIS.

GY
532
Hours
2-4
Spec Research In Geog

No description available.

GY
534
Hours
3-6
GIS Internship

Individual work experience in GIS supervised by the staff of an off-campus agency.

GY
535
Hours
4
Remote Sensing II

Focuses on the quantitative analysis of non-photographic remote sensor data, providing students with hands-on experience using a digital image processing software package. Topics include preprocessing, image enhancement, classification, digital change detection, and remote sensing and GIS.

GY
536
Hours
4
Adv Geographic Info Syst

Focuses on the analytical use of spatial information as well as GIS applications. Topics include spatial aspects of geographic information, attribute data structure, error and uncertainty, spatial analysis theories, GIS modeling, and GIS design.

GY
537
Hours
4
GIS for Transportation

The application of Geographic Information Systems to transportation has resulted in a sub-field known as GIS-T. This course will provide a hands-on introduction to GIS-T.

GY
539
Hours
4
GIS Programming

This course focuses on the extension of geographic information systems (GIS) through programming as well as on the development of stand-alone algorithms for spatial analysis and numerical modeling.

GY
540
Hours
3
Commun Facil Planning

A study of concepts and processes that underlie (a) the provision of public goods and services and (b) the spatial organization of publicly owned facilities. Topics range from theory to practical methods of conflict resolution.

GY
541
Hours
3
Land Use Regulations

The course explores the legal standards by which land is regulated and controlled in the U.S. It is designed for students who wish to become actively involved or exposed to land management and the planning profession.

GY
543
Hours
3
Location Science

This course presents the theory and practice of Location Science – the study of the optimal or near optimal spatial location and allocation of facilities, routes, personnel, or other assets. A variety of optimal procedures for location problems is presented, including minimum spanning tree, shortest path, maximal flow, and transportation problem algorithms. The Simplex method as applied to location problems is outlined and demonstrated. Heuristic approaches to location problems including greedy heuristics and Tabu search heuristics are reviewed. The peer-reviewed literature in location science is explored.

GY
544
Hours
6
Field Studies In Africa

Experiential learning course. It explores how different cultural groups in Africa relate to the natural environment.

GY
545
Hours
3
Agriculture: Environment and Development

This course examines the geographical elements of how people use the biophysical environment to grow domesticated plants (crops). Agriculture is understood in this course as the transformation of biophysical or “natural” environments into "cultural" environments. It is assessed in regard to both the plants cultivated, and the soil, slope, moisture, and temperature conditions that exist and then are modified or created by farmers. Ecological and systematic approaches are taken in order to understand how different agricultural strategies insure continual long-term productivity and stability. Microeconomics is an important and recurring theme.

GY
551
Hours
3
Global Environmental Change

Global Environmental Change focuses on the major issues of global change, including anthropogenic climate change, land use and land cover change, biodiversity issues, environmental pollution, potential global change-related impacts on human health, and relevant social policies. The class will follow a quasi-seminar format where individual presentations and group discussion will comprise a large portion of the in-class activity. Each week students will do research on and/or read assigned articles and additional articles of your own selection on relevant subjects. Instructor will provide a summary of the weekly topic and as a class, students will discuss issues raised in the research and readings.

GY
552
Hours
3
Environ Decision Making

Designed to help students develop both the tools and the personal philosophy necessary to analyze and manage scarce resources. A review of current environmental topics is followed by a survey of different paradigms and techniques that contribute to environmental decision making.

GY
553
Hours
3
Environment & Society

Explores the linkages between the biophysical environmental and human social systems. Public-policy implications are viewed from a social science perspective.

GY
558
Hours
3
Urban Analysis Planning

A thorough examination of the literature in economics, political science, and sociology that is relevant to the geographical study of contemporary urban structure, power, and conflict.

GY
562
Hours
4
Land Use Science

This course explores the interactions between land use, land cover, and social and environmental processes at multiple scales. The emphasis is on understanding how the natural landscape influences human activities, how humans modify the natural landscape to meet our needs, and how those modifications create a co-evolution between landscapes and human use. Understanding how land uses are, or should be, allocated to achieve multiple goals, including food and fiber production, space for human settlement, provision of ecosystem services, and access to renewable energy sources, requires consideration of these multiple objectives and of the various factors driving land-use decisions at multiple scales.

GY
563
Hours
4
Ecosystem Services: Theory and Practice

This course will prepare students to function effectively as future researchers and policy-makers on topics related to sustainability and sustainable management of ecosystem-oriented projects and activities. The concept of ecosystem services provides one approach to facilitate trade-off decision making to identify win-win strategies among multiple stakeholders with often conflicting near-term objectives.

GY
566
Hours
3
Transport Geography

Examines location and function of the multimodal North American transportation system, the urban transport planning process, and the political and environmental contexts of transport systems, including impacts of continued reliance on the automobile.

GY
570
Hours
3
Special Studies Geog

No description available.

GY
572
Hours
4
Soil Science

Introduction to the scientific study of soils. Covers soil physical properties, morphology, development, classification, environmental functions and uses, and resource degradation.

GY
573
Hours
3
Public Policy Development in Water Resources Seminar

This course will evaluate the current approaches to policy theory and examine systematically the broader implications of the substantive aspects of public policy development in the water resources spectrum. In analysis of public policy development in water resources, the student will look at both policy process and policy substance. Attention will be given to the questions of how and why water policy differs across states, and how one might evaluate policy performance cross-nationally.

GY
574
Hours
3-6
Cartography Practicum

Individual work experience in cartography supervised by the faculty and staff of the University.

GY
576
Hours
3-6
Gis Practicum

Individual work experience in GIS supervised by the faculty and staff of the University.

GY
577
Hours
3
Water Resources Management, Law, and Policy

The Water Resources Management, Law, and Policy course will provide students with a survey of water resources development, control, law, policy and management with particular emphasis on public policy considerations including: the acquisition and exercise of water rights—appropriative and riparian; groundwater management; water districts and user organizations; environmental considerations; Federal/State relations including interstate allocation; and the Alabama Water Resources Act. The course will also address international water law—the multinational treaties, laws, cases, practices and politics governing Earth’s transboundary freshwater resources (watercourses including rivers, streams, lakes, and groundwater aquifers) shared by two or more countries.

GY
578
Hours
3-6
Planning Practicum

Individual work experience in planning supervised by the faculty and staff of the University.

GY
579
Hours
3-6
Planning Internship

Individual work experience in planning supervised by the staff of an off-campus planning agency.

GY
581
Hours
3
Water Diplomacy

The course will focus on the linkages between water resources policy and conflict or cooperation with primary interest on interstate (transboundary) and intrastate water issues. The conceptual framework of the course is centered on water scarcity, water conflict, hydropolicy, hydrohegemony, water security, and dispute resolution. The role of disparate stakeholders and the problem of scale will be considered. The policy, norms and laws for mediating water conflict at different jurisdictional levels, including adversarial legalism (lawsuits) are examined.

GY
585
Hours
3
River Hydrology

Rivers are dynamic natural systems that are of great importance to ecosystems and society. This course examines river hydrology processes from a physical geography perspective. A major theme of the course will be impacts of human actions on river systems.

Prerequisite(s): instructor permission
GY
586
Hours
3
Watershed Dynamics

An examination of the physical operation of drainage basins (watersheds), focusing on surface water hydrology, erosion, and sedimentation.

GY
588
Hours
4
Digital Terrain and Watershed Analysis

This course covers concepts, numerical algorithms, and techniques for digital terrain and watershed analysis. It combines lectures with a substantial practical lab component. The lectures covers spatial representation of topography, topographical data acquisition techniques (Photogrammetric Stereo, InSAR, LiDAR, GPS, cartography), terrain visualization, terrain parameter derivation, extraction of critical terrain features, landform recognition and classification, viewshed analysis, cut-and-fill and volumetric analysis, drainage network extraction, watershed delineation, and distributed watershed models. The practical component, involving 8 lab assignments and one individual mini-project, will give students hands-on experience in using proprietary GIS software packages, ArcGIS, EPA BASINS 4.0 and HSPF 12.0 to handle topographic and image data for terrain and watershed analysis.

Prerequisite(s): GY 430 or equivalent or GY 530
GY
589
Hours
4
Forest Eco Veg Analysis

A study of the relationship of trees to the environment, and the interrelationship of organisms that compose the forest community.

GY
590
Hours
3
Internship

Individual work experience with agency involved in geographical research, analysis, and reporting.

GY
591
Hours
3
Fluvial Geomorphology

This course provides an in-depth investigation of the processes that form rivers and their evolution.

GY
596
Hours
4
Forest Ecosystem Management: Silviculture

In this course silviculture is treated as applied forest ecology. The goal of this course is to provide students with a knowledge of silviculture and its ecological basis so they can design manipulations in forest ecosystems to achieve a range of management objectives. The course requires field trips to tour different sites and visit with forest scientists and managers. In this course students learn about tree growth and stand development and use this information to develop silvicultural prescriptions to meet a diverse range of management goals. We will explore how silvicultural treatments can influence stand structure and composition and how these changes influence timber quantity and quality, forest health, biodiversity, soil, and wildlife habitat among other features. We will also focus on how silviculture is influenced by broader social, economic, and ecological issues.

Prerequisite(s): GY489 or GY409 or GY492 or GY494 or instructor permission
GY
598
Hours
1-3
Non-Thesis Research

No description available.

GY
599
Hours
1-12
Thesis Research

No description available.

GY
602
Hours
3
Seminar in Climatology

This course is a doctoral level research intensive seminar in the geographic sub-field of climatology. The course will be taught by faculty with varied expertise within climatology and will, therefore, be dynamic in its topical focus from semester to semester. Content will broadly fall within hydro-climatology, synoptic climatology, climatological extremes, bio-climatology, and historical or paleo-climatology. The material covered will be of an advanced nature aimed at providing doctoral students with an understanding of the latest research and current developments within the field. Discussion will be directed towards readings of research articles and development of research methodology with the aim of producing an original research product that could be submitted in a scholarly journal for publication.

GY
610
Hours
3
Seminar in Forest Science and Management

This is a reading and discussion intensive graduate seminar course. Each week you will be expected to come to class prepared to critically discuss the readings and other assignments. We will cover a diversity of topics in forest science and management and some additional reading may be necessary for you to be fully prepared to engage in class discussion. Our seminar time will be devoted to discussion of topics selected by individual students and the instructor. Students are encouraged to select a topic related to their research, but this is not a requirement. Throughout the semester we will also discuss the philosophy of science, the rubrics of scientific evaluation, the publication process, and other topics to aide in your training as a research scientist.

GY
615
Hours
3
Seminar Human-Environmental Interactions

This is a reading and discussion intensive graduate seminar course. Each week, students will be expected to come to class prepared to critically discuss the readings and other assignments. A diversity of topics will be covered in human-environmental interactions in geography and some additional reading may be necessary for students to be fully prepared to engage in class discussion. Seminar time will be devoted to discussion of topics selected by individual students and the instructor. Throughout the semester there will be discussion of the philosophy of science, the rubrics of scientific evaluation, the publication process, and other topics to aide in student training as a research scientist.

GY
630
Hours
3
Seminar in Geographic Information Science

Geographic Information Sciences (GISci) include a range of spatial technologies, including Geographic Information Systems, remote sensing, computer modeling, GPS, and cartography. This seminar will examine contemporary issues in GISci through readings and group discussion.

GY
663
Hours
3
Seminar in Geomorphology

Geomorphology is the study of earth surface processes and landforms, including quantitative analyses of how and why landscapes change over space and time. In this seminar students will examine how and why geomorphic systems function and change in response to climatic and tectonic forcing and human activities through readings and group discussions.

GY
699
Hours
1-12
Dissertation Research in Geography

This independent research course partially fulfills required doctoral level research dissertation hours toward the Ph.D. in Geography. A total of 24 dissertation hours are required. The course is conducted under the guidance of the Ph.D. advisor. The student repeats hours in this course at least until the dissertation requirements have been satisfactorily completed. Material covered will be of an advanced nature aimed at providing doctoral students with an understanding of the latest research and current developments within the field. Discussion and advisor guidance will be directed towards readings of research articles and development of research methodology with the aim of producing an original scientific contribution that represents a novel development in the field or a novel twist on a pre-existing topic in the field.

Prerequisite(s): You must be a PhD student in Geography that has defended a dissertation proposal and successfully completed requirements for Ph.D. candidacy.