Geography, Environment, and Society, Bachelor of Science

Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Bachelor of Science in Geography, Environment and Society integrates, in important and dynamic ways, how society is increasingly organized around urban, social, natural areas with direct connection to regional peripheries and global systems. Students will engage the social, physical, and technological dimensions of society. Planning is increasingly important as cities and regions respond to accelerating growth and environmental and social problems. The biophysical basis of society is linked to urban areas and necessitate students having a knowledge of physical geography, as more and more people are seeking refuge in nature, especially parks and protected areas. Geospatial sciences enable students to understand and analyze the spatial dimensions of society, particularly in the context of planning and natural resource management. Overlaying all this is the social dimensions of planning, resource use, and responses to climate change and related threats. 

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 36 of major requirements
  • At least 18 units of minor requirements.

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required STA 270
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
Study Abroad Optional
University Honors Program Optional
Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan Optional
Some online/blended coursework Required
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan
Emphasis, Minor, or Coursework Required

An emphasis, minor, or coursework is required for this major.

Purpose Statement

The Bachelor of Science in Geography, Environment and Society integrates geographic knowledge and GIS mapping technologies with the problem-solving fields of community planning and urban design. This educational framework prepares students for careers in creating more livable and sustainable communities, while contributing to a better world.
Coursework for this degree provides a strong foundation in geography and an option to select one of three available emphases. Geospatial Technologies engages students in the analysis of spatial data through geographic information systems and remote sensing. The Community Planning and Development emphasis introduces students to the professional field of land use planning including the development review process, comprehensive plans and ordinances, environmental impact studies and law and ethics. Human-Environmental Systems explores the interrelationships between natural and social systems to solve pressing societal-environmental issues.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Global Awareness and Engagement: GSP Graduates will be able to articulate how external or global processes influence and interact with local places and development decisions.
  • Sustainable Environments and Communities: GSP Graduates will be able to evaluate and design more sustainable and livable places while considering the interrelationships between physical and human environments.
  • Our Diverse World: GSP Graduates will be able to objectively appraise different perspectives and approaches originating from diverse places and physical environments.
  • Written Communication: GSP graduates will be able to professionally communicate synthesized knowledge, research, and designs through written products appropriate for diverse audiences and perspectives.
  • Oral Communication: GSP graduates will be able to professionally communicate synthesized knowledge, research, and designs  through oral presentations for diverse audiences.
  • Geospatial Techniques: GSP graduates will be able to interpret, design, and produce quality 2D and 3D computer-generated maps and illustrations that communicate spatial knowledge at local, regional, and global scales.
  • Planning and Participation: GSP graduates will be able to work effectively in teams to design more sustainable places through the synthesis and input of various disciplinary and community perspectives.
  • Research and Analysis: GSP graduates will be able to apply relevant qualitative and quantitative research methods to conduct scientific, objective inquiries at local, regional, and global scales. 

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 36 units distributed as follows:

    • Geography, Environment, and Society Courses: 36 units
    • Minor: 18-24 units

    Take the following 36 units with a Grade of "C" or better in each course:

Minor Requirements
  • You must complete a minor of at least 18 units from those described in this catalog. In consultation with your advisor, you should select a minor that is appropriate for your career aspirations and educational needs. Your minor advisor will advise you about this part of your academic plan.

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan wherein a student may start a master's degree while simultaneously completing their bachelor's degree.