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Western Kentucky University

Department of Geography and Geology Academic Mission


The Department aims to be the region's outstanding geoscience department, with effective international reach, in order to manage effectively the challenges of the Anthropocene. It aims to produce exceptional undergraduates and graduates in its major programs, to engage them in critical thinking and meaningful problem solving, and to encourage life-long learning. It aims to enhance the reputation of the department and its constituencies through meaningful research, community engagement, and workforce development.



Students and Faculty of the Department of Geography and Geology:

  • Recognize science as a way of knowing, including its values and limitations;
  • Achieve a depth and range of knowledge and skills in their discipline or in a multidisciplinary area;
  • Develop abilities of reason and imagination; collect and analyze data, synthesize and draw conclusions; effectively communicate with others;
  • Experience discovery, design, or application within the discipline and beyond;
  • Evidence a commitment to an examined and evolving set of values and professional ethics, leading to informed decisions and including contributions to the discipline and to society;
  • Be knowledgeable in the discipline, prepared for the future, and competitive in a global society.


In achieving this mission, the Department of Geography and Geology creates an academic environment of rigor and achievement, cultivates a community of scholars and contributing citizens, and enhances interconnections among the disciplines.

Teaching: The primary mission of the Department is to provide relevant, up-to-date, and integrative undergraduate and graduate educational experiences in Geography, Geology, and the Geosciences. In addition, the Department strives to prepare students for engagement with local, national, and global issues; to instill in students ethical and moral values related to citizenship and community; and to help students develop a set of integrated theoretical and practical skills that can be applied to solving community issues and problems. The Department aims to integrate the curriculum with marketplace needs and to prepare students for careers in the public and private sectors or for advanced graduate study.

The Department aligns its objectives with the strategic goals of the University relevant to student learning. These goals are:

(1) Promoting active learning in the course setting, especially as it advances development of critical and integrative thought processes and/or advances students' appreciation for the diversity of viewpoints.

(2) Cultivating opportunities for academic engagement within the context of students' coursework, especially through independent research, scholarship, or creative activity related to the discipline, and project-based learning.

(3) Developing students' appreciation of the historical context of the discipline and/or the relationship of the discipline to a global society.


  • To develop students' fundamental communication skills;
  • To develop students' critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities;
  • To instill in students core values and ethics for life;
  • To instill in students an awareness of their social and civic responsibilities;
  • To enable students to understand and engage with the concepts and practices of global interdependence;
  • To promote in students a desire for continual personal development;
  • To encourage students to enhance their aesthetic perception and ability;
  • To develop students' professional proficiency.


  • Students have developed the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that lead toward life-long learning and enhanced life opportunities;
  • Students understand and appreciate the diverse nature of people who live together in a world of diminishing distance;
  • Students can apply the technological knowledge, skills, attitudes, and flexibility needed to succeed in a rapidly changing environment;
  • Students have developed the cognitive processes and dispositions necessary to think critically, to analyze problems in context, and to make sound and intelligent decisions;
  • Students have acquired and utilize the body of knowledge, and have developed the constellation of skills, associated with their discipline, interdisciplinary areas of specialty, or professional field;
  • Students can gather and utilize information to enhance knowledge, and can use communication skills to convey meaning effectively and accurately;
  • Students have developed fundamental skills in the geosciences, use geoscience in their chosen fields, and understand how the geosciences can be used in analysis and problem solving.

    RESEARCH: Faculty in the Department conduct applied and basic research in local, regional, national, and international environments on a wide variety of issues related to human-environment interactions. The Department aims to involve all of its students in applied research activities, facilitated through the activities of the Programs of Distinction and the research institutes, with particular emphasis on local and regional development issues.
    SERVICE: The Department strives to provide relevant, practical service to the university, the community, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and to the disciplines of Geography and Geology. Both faculty and students are encouraged to serve on committees, to be active in their communities, to provide expertise and advice to a variety of constituents, and to work towards improving the human-environment condition.

    To review the Department's Tenure and Promotion policy, please go to Tenure and Promotion.


  • The Department of Geography and Geology comprises 26 full-time faculty and serves about 230 undergraduate majors, 70 minors, and 30 graduate students in a variety of specializations. The Department offers a B.S in Geography, a B.S. in Meteorology, a B.S. in GIS, a Certificate in GIS (both undergraduate and graduate), a B.A. and a B.S. in Geology (Professonal focus), and an M.S. in Geoscience. Several educational, research, and public service facilities are housed within the Department that provide exciting opportunities for a combination of theoretical and practical work. A major goal of the Department's activities is to involve undergraduate and graduate students actively in all aspects of research as an integrated part of their academic programs with the purpose of nurturing their intellectual growth, critical-thinking skills, and technical experience.

  • The Center for Cave and Karst Studies serves as a major research center dealing with all aspects of cave and karst studies, with an emphasis on solving environmental problems associated with karst terrain. The Hoffman Environmental Research Institute, part of the Center for Water Resource Studies, one of the University's Applied Research centers, is a consortium of scientists and students dedicated to research and higher education at the cutting edge of environmental science. Its primary mission is to be a leader in the development of innovative, basic, and applied research programs aimed at understanding the dynamics of human-landscape-atmosphere interactions. The College Heights Weather Station maintains a fully equipped weather station with remote radar capability. The Kentucky Climate Center is staffed by the State Climatologist and maintains an extensive set of Kentucky climatic data. The Kentucky MesoNet is a high-density, mesoscale network of automated environmental monitoring stations currently being developed across the Commonwealth.

  • The Department's state-of-the-art Geographic Information Science (GIS) Laboratory contains advanced workstations, five servers, Trimble mapping grade GPS units, a large-format printer, a suite of Esri software, and other computer-mapping software like ERDAS and Pathfinder. Applied and basic field research by faculty and students is conducted continually in the local area, surrounding states, and throughout the world. Detailed information about the Department's long-term goals, its productivity, its annual activities, and other key elements of departmental life can be accessed on this site.

    Last updated on 1/28/15.
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 Last Modified 1/28/15