Interpreting changes in both rural and urban landscapes bring together physical and human geographies to examine pre-historic, historic, and contemporary processes of change to the Earth’s surface. Geographers examine the driving forces that cause land changes and evaluate the human and environmental consequences of those changes. Understanding the geography of land change provides a framework for land management and for predicting future changes.
Geographers in our department study the driving forces of land change in the United States, changing wetlands in the Upper Midwest, relationships between humans and soils (particularly prehistoric Amazonian soils), and urbanization in West Africa. These studies all stress how societies change the environment, adapt to changes in the environment, and how thoughtful adaptations can lead to sustainable urban and rural communities.