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The geographical perspective

Geography at JMU is a vibrant community of professors and students who join together to learn, solve problems, and make a difference in the world.

Our program offers a unique, holistic approach: the geographical perspective. Geography emphasizes the examination of why the world is as it is.

  • The environmental and human processes that shape our planet and our lives;
  • How humans interact with their environment; and,
  • How place matters to environmental, economic, and cultural issues.

JMU Geographers…

  • Work in the field focusing on real-world issues;
  • Build real-world expertise and experience working with schools, local farmers, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and governmental agencies.
  • Explore major cities like New York and London and fascinating countries like Malta, Kenya, and Thailand; and
  • Practice essential conservation skills in nearby forests and parks.

Geography is a bridge between the social sciences (human geography) and the natural sciences (physical geography). More than this, geography trains students in the latest geospatial technologies – geographic information systems (GIS), earth observation, and other cutting-edge tools – to analyze global change.

The primary challenges facing our world and humanity in the coming century can be examined and addressed very effectively by the geographical approach.

Students interested in applying spatial thinking to intelligence may be interested in the USGIF Certification.

Environmental Conservation

Students work in the field using scientific techniques and geospatial technologies to examine and understand resource issues, landscape change and ecological pressure, and to offer solutions to problems.

Globalization and International Development

Geography majors explore the effects of globalization and have the opportunity to travel internationally to explore other lands and societies

Climate Change

This critical environmental issues lies at the intersection of how humans and the environment interact. Students develop a deeper understanding of how the climate works, how humans are at risk from climate change, and how sustainable cities can reduce environmental impact.

National Security and Emergency Management

Students gain knowledge about the geospatial technologies needed to obtain critical knowledge and intelligence on natural and security threats facing the US, and develop the skills needed to understand the human and environmental factors underlying these threats.

Internships and Studying Abroad

Practical experience and global awareness is invaluable. Because we have a long history of integrating internships and study abroad into our curriculum, students receive credit for professional internships and international learning. Students interns with local and national businesses and organizations, and have recently studied abroad in London, Costa Rica, Kenya, and Malta. They worked with people from all over the world through the local Refugee Resettlement Office and work long-distance with people in Haiti.


Students complete a common core that gives a firm foundation in essential geographical knowledge which includes human geography, physical geography, geospatial techniques, statistics, and human/land relations.

Beyond the core, complimentary concentrations encourage a deeper understanding of the discipline and the relevant skills to address critical problems faced by humanity. 

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