Geography, Environmental, & Outdoor Studies
People, Places, and Meaning
We seek students dedicated to solving emerging problems facing the world today. Some of these problems have scientific solutions, but the majority of concerns facing us in the twenty-first century—species extinctions, climate change, tensions between industrial development and sustaining natural and cultural resources, to name just a few—will require embracing multiple ways of knowing, from indigenous technologies to cultural studies to physical science.
With our small student-to-faculty ratio, our courses are distinguished by their capacity to link local and global issues through on-hand learning environments such as the Tongass National Forest, Tlingit storytelling, downtown cultural districts of the State Capital, and their expansive connections to larger world histories and ecologies ranging across the North Pacific Rim. Our undergrads are prepared to enter graduate school in a diverse range of disciplines, as well as immediately enter the workforce in a number of local and national governmental agencies in job positions such as urban and regional planner, environmental impact analyst, forestry technician, and horticulturalist.
Geography, Environmental, & Outdoor Studies Degrees
The study of Cultural Geography addresses the spatial organization of societies at all scales from the local to the global and the production of place, territory, and landscape by human imagination and activity.
As far as my personal experience in the Geography BA, I feel that those three years were invaluable. The blend of classes required made the experience feel well rounded and thought through. I took many advanced literature, sociology, and geography classes which I felt comfortable and familiar with. I also took harder classes that focused on the physical and hard science aspect of the degree. Both challenged me in different ways and gave me an opportunity to figure out where I fell on the spectrum of the degree program.
Environmental Studies explores the interrelationships between the earth’s physical and biological systems and how these systems provide natural resources for human societies.
One of the things that I loved about the BA Geography program was its flexibility. The program gives you a good base but it also allows you to incorporate geography into other fields. For example, I was able to have geography as a core and then relate and apply it to sociology, natural resource management, forest ecology, and GIS. The ability to work with other fields is one of the discipline’s many strengths. I believe that the field of geography has a lot to offer and other fields are starting to realize that as well.
Outdoor Studies combines the breadth of a liberal arts academic approach with a focus on outdoor sport and recreation and field experience in outdoor and adventure settings.
I was able to take the knowledge I had learned about the environment and geography from my other courses into the field with me and experience a hands-on learning style. The small group setting of each class at UAS helped me feel comfortable with public speaking and strengthened the connection I had with my professors. I came into the program with no self-confidence or understanding of what I wanted to do with my life and by the end of my time in the program I had transformed into a passionate, engaged individual.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
At UAS, students in the Cultural Geography emphasis gain hands-on experience with projects like Globalizing Southeast Alaska, a collaborative community research project to visualize the social, environmental, and historical impact of tourism on the Juneau landscape. Under the direction of Dr. Richard Simpson, Geography 490 students constructed an interactive map of the activity of cruise ships in Southeast Alaska from 1977-2017. Projects like this bring students together with professional organizations like the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, whose Juneau History Grant partially funded this research.
Centers for Indigenous Language and Community
Tlingit language speakers, teachers, and learners gather at the ANB Hall in Yakutat, Alaska to listen to the perspective of Tlingit elders speaking in the language about its future and current needs. The maps on the wall show geographic views of the area, the Raven and Eagle panels show the need for balance within Tlingit culture, and the arrangement of people show the ways that a language community centers around Indigenous knowledge sources.
Eaglecrest Ski Area
Eaglecrest, Juneau's community ski area, offers 1,400 feet of vertical and 100-600 inches of snowfall per season. Terrain ranges from easy groomers to steep chutes, open bowls, and wooded glades.
In addition to recreation, faculty and students use Eaglecrest to study avalanche dynamics and have developed operational snowpack stability and avalanche forecasting models. The environmental science program maintains a research station at the summit, monitoring weather conditions and providing real-time information on snow conditions for skiers, boarders, and patrollers.
Outdoor studies students takes advantage of the easily accessible backcountry terrain for courses in backcountry skiing and snowboarding, avalanche I and II, and mountaineering.
Attending classes on-campus provides ready access to your professors and on-campus resources like the learning centers, libraries, student services, and more. Traditional classrooms and specialty classrooms with a range of technologies create vital spaces to connect and learn from each other.
"The knowledge and skills I learned through the geography program at UAS has helped me immensely with my life endeavors. Being a geography major influenced my passion for sustainable food growing. It also gave me a global perspective on what is important and what needs work. It gave me insight on how this world is changing and how we need to address basic needs such as food and water in years to come. Geography and Environmental Studies gave me a unique look into how the world works. It made me care. It made me want to do something good to help this place."
Erica Hill, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of AnthropologyProfile and contact info
Eran Hood, Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental ScienceProfile and contact info
Kevin Krein, Ph.D.
Professor of PhilosophyProfile and contact info
Kevin Maier, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English, Humanities Department Chair
While my training is in 19th and 20th century American literature, my interests have always been in the cultural components of environmental concerns, often seen from the angle of sport hunting and fishing. Which is to say: I like to mix my outdoor recreation with hard questions about climate change, equity, and environmental justice.
Daniel Monteith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of AnthropologyProfile and contact info
Lisa Hoferkamp, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of ChemistryProfile and contact info
Sanjay Pyare, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Geography BS Program CoordinatorProfile and contact info
John Radzilowski, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of HistoryProfile and contact info
Richard F. Simpson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Humanities, Geography and Environmental Studies BA Coordinator
Literary Theory; Literary Urban Studies; Material Cultures of Education; Nineteenth-Century Labor and Economic Theory; Allegory and the Essay; Cultures of Finance Capital
Lance (X̱’unei) A. Twitchell, M.F.A., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Alaska Native LanguagesProfile and contact info
Lora E. Vess
Assistant Professor of Social Sciences
Environmental sociology and environmental justice, food studies, social inequality, social movements, scholarship of teaching and learning, sociology of health and medicine
Forest J. Wagner, M.A.
Assistant Professor of Outdoor StudiesProfile and contact info
Jason M. Amundson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of GeophysicsProfile and contact info
Jason B. Fellman, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Environmental ScienceProfile and contact info
Sonia A. Nagorski, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Geology
My background is in environmental geochemistry, and my research has focused primarily on a variety of contaminants in aquatic systems. I teach classes on Earth's geologic history, physical geology, natural hazards, geomorphology, and mineral and energy resources and environmental impacts. At UAS I devote my efforts to training and inspiring undergraduates to work creatively and effectively in the environmental sciences, preparing them for meaningful careers that benefit the Earth and society.
Christian Kienholz, Ph.D.
Research AssociateProfile and contact info