What is Geography?

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.

Start Your Career at Western

Geography Degrees

Environmental Studies — Geography Emphasis, BA

Environmental Geography links together the social sciences and natural sciences, studying the relationships between human activity and natural systems. We draw on knowledge from many different fields of study to give us the big picture view of how and why cultural and natural landscapes vary over space.


Kathryn Patrick, Huxley College Professional Advisor | 360-650-3520

Geography/Social Studies, BA

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

Secondary Education students who wish to be endorsed in Social Studies may choose this major. However, this degree does not require that a student pursue a teaching certificate. Geography/Social Studies majors interested in Secondary certification must apply separately to the certification programs, such as those in Woodring College of Education.


David Rossiter, Geography Education Advisor |

Secondary Education Information, Woodring College of Education | 360-650-3347

Geography—Elementary, BAE

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

This program is designed to provide necessary depth as well as breadth to teaching majors who wish to specialize in geography in the public school system. This major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in elementary education.


David Rossiter, Geography Education Advisor |

Teacher Education Admission, Woodring College of Education | 360-650-3313

Geography at Western

Students studying Geography at Western choose courses from both the environmental science and environmental studies departments to fulfill major requirements. Prospective Geography majors are strongly advised to take additional preparatory course work that provides a strong background in chemistry, biology, geology, physics, mathematics, statistics, political science, anthropology, and/or history. 

The Geography/Social Studies major provides a breadth of knowledge in Geography, Environmental Studies, History, Economics, Anthropology, and Political Science. The major prepares students to explore a wide variety of career paths including planning, education, environmental agencies and NGOs, business, tourism, GIS, government service, transportation, and many more. This major meets Washington State requirements for a teaching endorsement and also prepares students to teach in non-traditional settings with or without the additional certification from Woodring College of Education.

Western’s Geography—Elementary program is designed to provide the necessary depth and breadth of social and natural sciences to teaching majors who wish to specialize in Geography in the public school system. Elementary Geography satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in Elementary Education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in elementary education.

Western’s Environmental Studies Department is part of Huxley College of the Environment.

Explore courses

ENVS 201 - Understanding Environmental Data and Information

ENVS 303 - Introduction to Environmental Studies I: Human Ecology and Ethics

ENVS 332 - The Pacific Northwest: Society and Environment

ENVS 333 - East Asia: Society and Environment

ENVS 443 - Social Justice and the City


Hands-on-Experience and Internships

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 College Speaker Series

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. 

Study Abroad

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.

What can you do with Geography?

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. Students with a degree in Geography/Social Studies can also go on to graduate work in Geography, Education, or Environmental Education.

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Aerotek: Visual Data Specialist 
  • Google Maps: Visual Data Specialist 
  • ICI Services: Plant Propagation Manager

Geography careers

  • Cartographer 
  • Resource Manager 
  • GIS Database Manager 
  • Water Resource Manager 
  • Park Ranger 
  • Forest Service Employee
  • Tourism Industry Professional
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Middle School Teacher 
  • High School Teacher 
  • Private School Teacher 
  • Land-Use Analyst 
  • Surveyor 
  • Urban/Regional Planner 
  • Ecologist