Undergraduate Catalog 2021-2022

Environmental, Sustainability, and Geographic Studies, Bachelor of Science (5009)


Program Coordinator

Margaret M. Gripshover, margaret.gripshover@wku.edu, (270) 745-3032

The Environmental, Sustainability, and Geographic Studies program focuses on environment related issues using scientific, technological, and humanistic approaches to understand the interactive nature and interdependence of environmental and human factors. The program is structured around foundational courses, technical course work, and applied real-world experiences. Foundational instruction introduces students to basic principles of environmental science and related subjects, such as sustainability science, environmental planning, pollution control, natural resource management, spatial data analysis, economics, cultural geography, and the general interactions of humans and nature. The program prepares students for thinking critically about the complexities of human-environmental interactions through technical course work encompassing scientific writing, quantitative skills and data analysis, applied field- and lab-based experiences, and effective use of geospatial technologies (e.g., GIS and cartography, GPS, radar, satellite, drone, photogrammetry, environmental quality monitors, and surveying). Since the geoenvironmental sector is very broad in scope, the major does not include pre-defined and narrow concentrations. Instead, the program allows students to complete a customized set of elective coursework that best prepares them for a graduate program or any one of the wide ranging careers in the environmental field that they find of most interest. The program not only prepares students with essential knowledge in the fields of environment and sustainability but also trains students with critical information processing and geospatial analysis skills to meet the demands of employers in diverse industries with information-age needs in the 21st Century. 

Program Requirements (53 hours)

A baccalaureate degree requires a minimum of 120 unduplicated semester hours. More information can be found at www.wku.edu/registrar/degree_certification.php.

Students who began WKU in the Fall 2014 and thereafter should review the Colonnade requirements located at: https://www.wku.edu/colonnade/colonnaderequirements.php.

Core Courses (32 hours)
Introductory Physical Earth Course
GEOG 103Our Dynamic Planet3
or GEOL 111 The Earth
or METR 121 Meteorology
Introductory Human/Cultural Geography Course
GEOG 110World Regional Geography3
Introductory Environmental Science Course
Sustainability Course
GEOG 280Environmental Science and Sustainability4
GEOG 380Global Sustainability3
or GEOG 480 Sustainable Cities
Technical Courses
GISC 316Fundamentals of GIS4
GISC 317Geographic Information Systems4
GEOG 391Geoscience Data Analysis4
GEOG 300Writing in the Geosciences3
Professional Preparation Courses
GEOG 499Professional Preparation1
GEOG 452Applied Geoscience Field Experiences1-6
or GEOG 495 Research Practicum or Internship
or GEOG 475 Selected Topics in Geography
Total Hours32
Electives (21 hours)
Elective coursework selected from any GEOG, GISC, METR, or GEOL 200-400 level course with advisor approval. Up to six hours may be taken outside of the geoscience discipline with advisor approval.21

Finish in Four Plan

First Year
FallHoursSpringHours
GEOG 103, GEOL 111, or METR 1213GEOG 1103
GEOG 1752GEOG 2103
ENG 1003GEOG 2804
MATH 1163MATH 1833
HIST 101 or HIST 1023COMM 1453
 14 16
Second Year
FallHoursSpringHours
GISC 3164GEOG 3003
GEOG Major Elective3GISC 3174
Colonnade: Connections (Local to Global)3GEOG 3803
Colonnade: World Language Requirement3Colonnade: Connections (Social and Cultural)3
Colonnade: Arts & Humanities3 
 16 13
Third Year
FallHoursSpringHours
GEOG 3914GEOG 452, GEOG 475, or GEOG 4951-6
GEOG Major Elective3GEOG Major Elective3
ENG 2003GEOG Major Elective3
Colonnade: Connections (Systems)3University Elective3
University Elective3University Elective3
 16 16
Fourth Year
FallHoursSpringHours
GEOG 4991GEOG Elective3
Field Studies/Intern4GEOG Elective3
GEOG Major Elective3Independent Research3
Independent Research3GEOG or University Elective3
University Elective3University Elective3
 14 15
Total Hours 120
  • 120 Hours total are required in the program, with 42 hours at the 300/400 level. 
  • Summer courses, including Study Abroad, Field Camps, and other independent research opportunities, can reduce the number of hours required in the regular semesters. 
  • Any of the courses can be moved from semester to semester to take advantage of courses when offered. 
  • The WKU Colonnade Program requires a minimum of 39 hours, with several required courses in the Geography program that can be double-counted. GEOG courses marked * count for Colonnade Credit. 
  • Colonnade Connections courses are restricted to Juniors/Seniors, unless 21 credit hours of Colonnade Explorations and Foundations courses have already been completed. Three disciplines are required for Connections credit (METR, GEOG, GEOL, and GISC count as separate disciplines). 
REQUIRED IN THE MAJOR (53 hours): CORE COURSES = GEOG 103* or GEOL 111* or METR 121*, GEOG 110*, GEOG 280*, GEOG 380* or GEOG 480, GEOG 300*, GISC 316, GISC 317, GEOG 391, GEOG 452* or 475 or 495, GEOG 499 (32 hours); ELECTIVES = any 21 hours of approved GEOG/GEOL/GISC/METR or equivalent coursework; PLUS MATH 116* and MATH 183*