Geography/Social Studies

Geography is the science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the Earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment. Geography links the social sciences and natural sciences together, studying the relationships between human activity and natural systems.

Western's Geography/Social Studies major prepares students for a concentration in Geography to accompany their courses in Elementary Education. Geography/Social Studies provides a breadth of knowledge in Geography, Environmental Studies, History, Economics, Anthropology, and Political Science. 

Designed to meet Washington State requirements for a teaching endorsement, Geography/Social Studies prepares students for teaching in non-traditional settings with or without the additional certification from Woodring College. Completion of this combined major leads to an endorsement in social studies.

The Environmental Studies Department is part of Huxley College of the Environment. Western’s Secondary Education Department is part of the Woodring College of Education.

Beyond the Classroom

Student work is received and recognized from national and statewide organizations for exceptional problem-solving solutions that use geographic information systems and computer-aided design. Some students are published in The Planet, a student-run publication that combines the environmental focus of Huxley College with the writing and reporting skills of journalism to produce an environmental magazine. 

Huxley hosts the Huxley College Speaker Series, which brings guest lecturers to Western’s campus to address topics of contemporary environmental concern in the region and beyond. The speaker series is intended to bring together environmentally-minded members of the Western and Bellingham communities. Students and Bellingham community members also volunteer for LEAD (Learning Environment Action Discovery), a program designed to help restore native environments and increase biodiversity. 

Bringing together even broader communities, Huxley College students have the opportunity to take environmental studies classes in Europe and other parts of the world through a number of faculty-led study abroad summer programs.

Careers and Graduate Studies

Graduates of this major have assumed positions in State and National Parks, the Forest Service, college and universities, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Other graduates teach Geography and Social Studies to children in grades 5-12 in a public or private school setting.

Sample Careers

  • Middle School Teacher 
  • Land-Use Analyst 
  • High School Teacher 
  • Surveyor 
  • Private School Teacher 
  • Urban/Regional Planner 
  • Ecologist

Department of Environmental Studies

Geography/Social Studies, BA

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