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Department of Geography Strategic Plan

Department of Geography
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University
Strategic Plan: 2015 to 2019


The overall mission of the Department of Geography is to conduct theoretical and applied geographic research in a dynamic and responsive manner that educates and inspires students to become critical and committed citizens who contribute to solutions for our planet. Addressing contemporary societal challenges of the 21st Century requires novel approaches to scientific inquiry and education that are uniquely served by the Department of Geography at Penn State. No longer can the global grand challenges of human well-being or environmental sustainability be solved independently. Rather, coupled approaches that unite core strengths in natural, social, human-environment, and information sciences are required to understand, forecast, and navigate landscapes in dynamic change.


Our department is strongly grounded and deeply balanced in each of the core subfields of Geography (Physical, Human, Environment and Society, GIScience) and our current research portfolio reflects these core subfields to engage in cutting-edge research and learning activities. Because many of our research topics require contributions from the natural, social, and information sciences, as a department we thrive among the intersections within Geography’s existing strengths, bridging spatio-temporal scales and subfields. These subfield intersections are often arenas for innovation and discovery, advances in theory, new methodologies, and policy interventions. We are committed to imagining solutions that support human and environmental justice, and creating novel approaches to deliver our research, teaching, and service activities.  To do so, we are constantly exploring and expanding the frontiers of our scholarship and citizenship.

Our Vision – The Department of Geography will be:

Engaging in today’s complex global challenges with partnerships in research, training, and service.

Bridging scales, subfields, and disciplines with cross-subfield and interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving and e-education.

Innovating how we learn using space-time modeling, geoinformatics, and participatory approaches.

Imagining healthy landscapes and environmental functions for people, societies, and ecosystems.

Creating novel solutions for livelihood resilience and equitable governance in rapidly changing times.


Download a PDF of the complete plan