Society, Space & Environments

The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science (GGIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a graduate program leading to both the M.A. and Ph.D degrees with specialization in Society, Space and Environments. The program has four emphases:

1) Development Geography
2) Urban Geography
3) Politics of the Environment
4) Geographies of Conflict


The Society, Space and Environments program builds upon the foundations of human geography as an integrating social science to examine the interplay of socio-spatial processes involved in the shaping of the Earth’s natural and built environments.

Scholarly work in this track rests on the belief that theory is important to informed human geographical investigation.

Program Emphases
  1. Development Geography
    • Political ecology
    • African agrarian systems
    • Environment and development
    • Rural-urban interactions
    • Environment and health
  2. Urban Geography
    • Spatial mismatch
    • Discourses of growth and redevelopment
    • Urban health inequalities
    • Urban political processes
    • Transportation and infrastructure
    • Urban political ecology
  3. Politics and the Environment
    • Environmental policy
    • Resource conflicts
    • Environmental security
    • Social justice, democracy, and
    • Natural resource control
  4. The Political Economy of Crime
    • Carceral geography
    • Critical social theory
    • Political economy of ghettoization

All four emphases are concerned with geographical change, conflict, and development either in historical or contemporary contexts.

Master's Program

Students must meet all GGIS requirements for the Masters program, including Geography 471 (Introduction to Contemporary Geographic Thought), a GIS class, and Geography 491 (Research in Geography), or their equivalent. Students can pursue the Thesis option or the Exam Option for the M.A. Degree. The thesis option may be required for entry into subsequent Ph.D programs.

PhD Program

Students must meet all GGIS requirements for the PhD in Geography including GEOG 471 (Introduction to Contemporary Geographic Thought) and GEOG 491 (Research in Geography), or their equivalent. Students must also complete a formal minor (16 credit hours) through course work in one or two related fields. Advanced course work in research methods, including qualitative or quantitative methodologies, is also required. The dissertation must be within the advising competence of the faculty in the program and is expected to be an original contribution to the field and to involve the examination of geographic processes using appropriate research methodology.

Advanced Courses Offered

  • GEOG 410: The Geography of Development and Underdevelopment
  • GEOG 412: Geospatial Tech and Society
  • GEOG 438: Geography of Health Care
  • GEOG 439: Health Applications of GIS
  • GEOG 446: Sustainable Planning Seminar
  • GEOG 455: Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • GEOG 465: Transportation and Sustainability
  • GEOG 466: Environmental Policy
  • GEOG 467: Dynamic Simulation of Natural Resource Problems
  • GEOG 482: Challenges of Sustainability
  • GEOG 483: Urban Geography
  • GEOG 520: Political Ecology
  • GEOG 560: Spatial Epidemiology
  • GEOG 570: Advanced Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 587: Qualitative Research Methods
  • GEOG 594: Seminar in Social Geography
  • GEOG 595: Advanced Studies in Geography

    Participating Faculty

    Affiliated Faculty

    For More Information

For information on admission to the department, including financial aid opportunities, visit the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science website, send an email to our Graduate program contact Matt Cohn, or write:

Geography and Geographic Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Room 2044 Natural History Building
1301 W. Green Street
Urbana, IL 61801