Geography BS Environmental Studies
This program gives students a spatial understanding of our natural landscape, and the skills to effectively manage human activities that impact the natural environment. It therefore focuses on three areas:
- physical geography, the study of spatial patterns and processes of natural phenomena (biological, geological, and climatic)
- human-environmental interactions, the historical and contemporary two-way relationship between the natural environment and human activities, including issues such as hazards response, environmental degradation, and human adaptation to physical constraints
- environmental management, the practical application of the above principles to make policy and operational decisions that balance human needs and environmental needs
In each of these areas, students gain conceptual knowledge, as well as practical skills in primary data collection in the field, and data analysis (statistical and GIS). The program prepares students for graduate studies and careers in basic research, land management, conservation, environmental protection and education.
As in all Geography emphases, students in this program apply the geographic perspective and spatial thinking skills to issues in a particular advanced specialty. The course requirements in this emphasis are thus composed of two parts:
- A set of core courses to give students a strong foundation in the general principles, knowledge, and skills common to all of Geography
- Advanced courses focusing on various topics in Physical Geography and Environmental Geography, including both scientific and practical applications.
Students are given ample opportunity to integrate and apply the general principles of geography they learn in the core to the specific issues and problems of the Physical Environment.
The Geography Core learning outcomes are correlated with five of the six essential elements of the 1994 National Geography Standards (NGS). The specialized outcomes of this emphasis are focused on developing further competency in these six elements, the eighteen specific standardswithin these elements, and the five geographic skills in the standard; the correlated standards are cited in each outcome.
Emphasis Specialization: Students who successfully complete the Environmental Studies Emphasis should be able to fulfill the core outcomes (especially the second and third), and to:
Environmental Change and Ecological Systems
Analyze the causes and potential impacts of global and local environmental change on ecological systems (NGS standards 7, 15, 16, 18).
Develop a solution to a given environmental issue that incorporates the relevant political, ethical, economic, legal, and cultural factors, in addition to the principles of physical geography (NGS standard 18, skills)
Evaluate the biological, geological, climatic, and other physical processes that produce spatial patterns in the natural landscape.
BS Geography Core: Students who successfully the core courses in the BS Geography degree should be able to (at a basic level):
Core geographic knowledge and skills
Understand, explain and apply the NGS-related foundational concepts of Human Societies and Spatiality, Physical Environments, Human-Environmental Interaction, Regional Geography, Critical Spatial Thinking, and Effective Communication.
Evidence of Learning
- Sample Coursework (assignments, test questions) selected for strategic relevance to learning outcomes
- Content Knowledge Exam taken at beginning and end of program
- Internship Reports from interns and employers
- Faculty reports from personal mentoring and advisement
- BYU Senior Survey with departmental addendum, focusing on opinions of BYU education and self-confidence in competency
- BYU Alumni Questionnaire with departmental addendum, focusing on opinions of BYU education and self-confidence in competency
- FHSS exit survey with departmental addendum, focusing on opinions of BYU education and self-confidence in competency
- Anecdotal reports from alumni reflecting on BYU education and success in profession and post-graduate education
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
- Two standing committees of the department are involved: the Undergraduate Education committee (three members selected by the chair), and the Program Curriculum committee composed of all faculty focused in Physical Environment Studies. In both committees, most effort is concentrated during the summer to avoid distraction during the school year.
- Throughout the school year, the Undergraduate Education Committee uses university, college, and department tools to gather raw assessment data.
- At the end of the school year (late April-early May), this Committee analyzes and discusses the assessment data with respect to the learning outcomes. They identify significant successes, and problems that need to be resolved. They prepare a brief report.
- At the final faculty meeting of the year (mid-May), the Undergraduate Education Committee presents their findings to the rest of the faculty. The Undergraduate Education Committee (or another standing or ad hoc committee if appropriate) is charged with developing solutions to department-wide issues. The program curriculum committee is charged with developing solutions to program-specific issues. This should take 1-2 hours.
- During the summer, committees meet as needed and develop solutions. Each prepares a brief report outlining specific proposals. This may include program requirement changes, new or deleted courses, course alterations, teacher development, and such.
- At the department retreat (late August), each committee presents its proposals. Faculty discuss and vote on proposals. This should take 2-3 hours.
- The Undergraduate Education Committee prepares and submits applications for curriculum changes in September for consideration by the University for the following school year.