Why Study Geography & GIScience @Illinois?

“The power and beauty of geography allow us to see, understand, and appreciate the web of relationships between people, places and environments.”

Background Information

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is among the nation’s most distinguished teaching and research institutions, home to the second largest academic library in the United States and the largest map collection among the public universities.

A national leader in the field of computer design and applications, the Urbana-Champaign campus also houses the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Blue Waters, a sustained-petaflop supercomputer. The campus serves approximately 43,000 students, about 10,000 of whom are engaged in graduate work in more than 100 fields of study. An internationally recognized graduate faculty of approximately 3,000 members works closely with undergraduate and graduate students in their respective fields.

The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science has a long distinguished history of world-class scholarship. For more than fifty years, the Department of Geography has been consistently ranked as one of the nation's top geography departments for its quality of research and instruction. Our vibrant and diverse department is organized around three major core programs: Geographic Information Science; River, Watershed, and Landscape Dynamics; and Society, Space, and Environments. In August of 2014, an additional core program was added, Cities and Metropolitan Areas. Each core program is staffed by a litany of leading experts in the field.

The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science (GGIS) at UIUC is home to an undergraduate major program, an undergraduate minor program, as well as three graduate programs: Master's (MA/MS) in Geography, a Professional Science Master's, and a Ph.D. in Geography. The Ph.D. also includes an accelerated degree option

Research Facilities

The department also includes several state-of-the-art research laboratories maintained by individual faculty members. These include:

The CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies is internationally renowned for research in GIScience. Its mission is to empower advanced digital and spatial studies through innovation of CyberGIS technologies and applications. Founded and run by Professor Shaowen Wang, and housed in GGIS and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the center addresses diverse GIScience challenges including: computationally intensive spatial analysis and modelling, cyberGIS, cyberinfrastructure-based geospatial problem-solving environments, computing and data-intensive applications and sciences, and high-performance and collaborative GIS.

The Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy initiative, directed by Professor Jesse Ribot, focuses on improving management of the earth's environment through research on social and policy dimensions of sustainability. Themes include the integration of natural and social science research on society's response to climate change, and the role of democracy in making and implementing sustainable environmental policy.

The Global Environmental Analysis and Remote Sensing (GEARS) Laboratory, run by Assistant Professor Jonathan Greenberg, examines of the impacts of climate change and land use/land cover change on vegetated ecosystems using remote sensing data. The lab's research ranges across scales from individual plants to the globe, across many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and utilizes state-of-the-art remote sensing imagery including hyperspectral, hyperspatial, mulitemporal, thermal, and Lidar data.

The Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, founded and administered by Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Hewings and housed in Davenport Hall, focuses on the development of models of urban and regional economies for impact analysis and economic forecasting. Clients range from state governments and city agencies to private companies.