Zoe Pearson, Sara Santiago, and Kendra McSweeney on the Patuca River in Honduras

The Ohio State University Department of Geography is ranked 5th in the United States and is internationally renowned. It supports four official concentrations to organize undergraduate majors and graduate studies: Urban, Regional, and Global Studies; GIS and Spatial analysis; Atmospheric and Climatic Studies; and Environment and Society.

By the Numbers

The Department of Geography has been offering undergraduate instruction since 1907

  • 350+ undergraduate student majors
  • 80+ graduate students
  • 24 faculty (Columbus campus)
  • 4 faculty at regional campuses

Degree Programs


  • BA, Air Transportation
  • BS, BA, Geography
  • BS, Atmospheric Sciences
  • BS, Geographic Information Science (GIS)
  • Minor, Atmospheric Sciences
  • Minor, Geography
  • Minor, GIS


  • MA and PhD

A River Tale: Protecting a Tawahka Way of Life

Kendra McSweeney, associate professor, was recently honored by Honduran Secretary of the Indigenous Pueblos, for her work on behalf of the Tawahka Amerindians of Honduras. McSweeney and partners Project Corazón Muihka, Alianza Verde (Green Alliance), and the World Bank, are implementing actions of cooperation and coordination to assist the Tawahka pueblo in its efforts to create ecotourism and combat environmental encroachment and narco-trafficking. Working alongside McSweeney throughout this project are Zoe Pearson and Sara Santiago, doctoral and undergraduate students, respectively.

Faculty Excellence

The Department of Geography is home to three University Distinguished Scholars, three Distinguished University Professors, a Guggenheim and Fulbright Scholar, and three current or former editors of major disciplinary journals. In addition, its junior faculty is widely recognized as one of the most promising groups of young scholars in the discipline.

  • Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Distinguished University Professor of geography and director of the Byrd Polar Research Center and Lonnie Thompson, Distinguished University Professor of earth sciences, were selected 2012 Franklin Institute Laureates by The Franklin Institute. The Thompsons were selected for their discoveries and achievements in science, technology, and business.
  • Kevin Cox, Distinguished University Professor of Geography, is the recipient of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) 2012 Lifetime Achievement Honors Award. The AAG recognized Cox for his superlative achievements that have led, defined and transformed multiple fields within the discipline of Geography; and for a career marked by a generosity of spirit in the training of generations of intellectual leadership.
  • Darla Munroe, associate professor, geography, is a 2012 Fulbright Award recipient. She is currently conducting research on Comparative Forest Transitions in Rural Peripheries, at the Geography Institute, Humboldt University, Berlin.
  • Edward Malecki, professor of geography and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), is a pioneer in the field of research defining technology’s role in economic and regional development and research on the dynamics of local, regional and national competitiveness.

The State, Regional, and Urban Development Center

Daniel Sui, professor and chair, will be leading Ohio State’s State, Regional and Urban Development Center, a newly-designated Center for Excellence by the Ohio Board of Regents. The Center will address critical needs of Ohio’s cities and regions in planning and expanding the infrastructures that support them.

Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA)

One of eight university research centers in the Ohio Urban University Program (UUP), the State’s foremost urban public policy and economic development resource. Center faculty collaborate with partners around the globe to study issues ranging from the dynamics of urban housing foreclosures, bioterrorism preparedness and response planning, and environmental impacts of accelerated urbanization to the implications of pervasive surveillance.

The Appalachian Ohio Forest Research Group

A joint project of Ohio State’s Department of Geography, Ohio University, and the U.S. Forest Service. This interdisciplinary study aims to analyze the trajectory of forest growth in southeast Ohio, and determine the factors that have allowed reforestation to occur in the region. Among the issues being addressed by the group are resettlement vegetation, remote sensing and land cover, hydrologic impacts of abandoned mine lands, land parcelization, forest fragmentation and historical land ownership records for the Appalachian Ohio region.