Geography is a core academic discipline for promoting an understanding of the importance of places and patterns associated with human and physical phenomena and processes. Geographic knowledge is an important component of global literacy, provides a cornerstone for understanding on-going trends in global interdependence, and sets a solid foundation for understanding relationships between humans and their environment. A geographic education provides a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences experience that requires students to acquire knowledge, synthesize information, and cultivate critical thinking in a holistic context. Geographic thinking incorporates the diverse societal and enriching cultural changes that are on-going throughout the world.
The geography program at Kansas State University is one of outstanding faculty and student accomplishments. Faculty and graduate student research successes have resulted in Kansas State University geographers playing a leadership role in extramural funding, research publications, and recognition among the social sciences. Thematic emphases for research and graduate education include the land grant traditional areas of natural resource evaluation and management, human-environment interaction, cultural and ethnic landscapes, rural development, rural population change and impacts, rural settlement and sustainability, climatology, geography of health, spatial analysis, and in the utilization of spatial techniques (computer mapping, geographic information systems, and remote sensing). The tradition of success led to the establishment of a doctoral degree program emphasizing rural geography in 1995. The department strives to have the best undergraduate geography degree program in the State of Kansas, the best masters program in the region, and the best PhD program, with an emphasis on rural geography, in the country.
The department's instructional activity stresses quality teaching and advising. In accomplishing the University's instructional mission, we provide all students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills characteristic of an educated person. Our contributions include:
- providing undergraduate and graduate students with a thorough grounding in the discipline of geography from a liberal arts perspective.
- teaching service courses that provide students with an opportunity to meet a number of either general education or college distribution requirements with classes and seminars that deal with international awareness, social and cultural diversity, and human interactions with the physical environment.
- assisting in the training of elementary and secondary teachers so that geographical education programs can be strengthened.
- preparing students to better appreciate local, regional, and global affairs by promoting attainment of knowledge and modes of thought that will help individuals make meaningful lifetime decisions.
- educating students so that they are successful in either further academic study or professional employment
- offering extracurricular learning experiences, including geographically oriented internships and seminars by internationally renowned geographic scholars, that promote academic excellence and cultural diversity.
- using educational approaches that permit the communication and application of basic geographic concepts and techniques that have broad implications for other disciplines.
Discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are cornerstones of the department's mission. We accomplish these research activities in an atmosphere of open inquiry and academic freedom. The department's research mission incorporates:
- research into human spatial behavior, regional and place identity, and the relationship between humans and the environment, such as societal adjustments to floods, population redistribution in the Great Plains, cultural, social, and ethnic change in the landscape, and assessments of migration decisions associated with residential satisfaction.
- studies that reinforce the land-grant mandate of the institution; examples include agricultural water management and rural community development, examination of the role on climatic variability on Great Plains ecosystems, and assessment of changes in stream systems and reservoirs related to human activity.
- examination of the applicability of new geographic knowledge and the emerging technologies associated with computer cartography, geographic information systems, and remote sensing; examples include use of satellite data to assess and model changes in land cover and the development and use of geographic information system coverages to address environmental concerns throughout Kansas.
- a symbiotic relationship among discovery of new knowledge, graduate and undergraduate education, and improvement in the quality of life through research application to societal issues.
University, professional, and community service are essential components of the department's mission. Service activities include:
- responding to the needs of society by using specialized knowledge and expertise to help solve or mitigate local, state, national, and/or global problems.
- assist in the efficient functioning of the university and professional societies through service on committees or in leadership positions.