All human activity takes place on a geographic stage of great diversity and constant transformation. For more than a century, the Geography Department at Berkeley has been a leading center of scholarship about earth’s landscapes and human relationships to the environment. Our inquiries encompass a wide range of topics, from the economies and cultures of cities and built landscapes, to tropical climates and the flow of polar ice sheets. We combine rigorous empirical work with deeply conceptual theoretical analyses, always recognizing the importance of both spatial processes and accumulated histories. We use geographic analyses to illuminate the abiding problems of the modern world.

geo-categories-ess-smEarth System Science is the study of the interconnected components of our environment—the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere—and how they interact to produce an integrated whole. It utilizes the fundamental disciplines of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology and applies them in the context of human activities and landscapes to understand the Earth, at scales ranging from single watersheds to the entire globe.

geo-categories-hg-smHuman Geography is a social science distinguished by its attention to the relation of humanity to the earth, in two regards. The first concerns the interaction of people with nature, including the extraction of natural resources, the environmental impact of people and their activities, and the effects of natural forces on society. The second concerns the spatial organization of societies at all scales from the local to the global (and from minutes to millennia) and the production of place, territory and landscape by human imagination and activity.


featured student projects

Geography 135: Water Resources and the Environment – taught by Professor Laurel Larsen

AfricaProject-01                 ArengProject-01

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to water resource distribution, dynamics, and usage, and to contemporary water resource issues and challenges. By the end of the course, students have a physically based understanding of water movement in the terrestrial environment and how it impacts ecosystems, landscapes, and human society. Goals of the course are to provide students with the tools for thinking about and forming informed opinions of the most pressing water resource issues facing global society, to provide a foundation for further studies in quantitative hydrology, and to provide students with experience writing about, presenting, and researching water resource issues.