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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Department of Geography

Nature, Society, Sustainability

The study of nature-society relations has long been a cornerstone of the discipline of Geography. Geographers working in the nature-society tradition study diverse processes related to the interaction between the biophysical environment and human societies. These range from the mostly physical to the mostly social, and can include resource use, natural hazards, human impacts on environmental systems, and the social dimensions of environmental change. Nature-society geographers also study the history of environmental thought; nature conservation and protected areas; food production and agricultural systems; and environmental governance, politics and conflict.

Nature-society scholarship in the Department of Geography at Syracuse University includes land use and land cover change in tropical forests using remotely sensed data, environmental history of western North America, the political ecology of rural livelihoods in Andean South America, and the environmental impacts of the mining industry. Syracuse geographers also study sustainable development, nature conservation and protected areas, forest fire dynamics and management, environmental mapping and its societal impacts, media coverage of environmental issues, and human impacts on climate, vegetation and landform processes. Department faculty members conduct field research in upstate New York, California and the American West, Alaska, Costa Rica, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador.


Jacob Bendix (Biogeography, geomorphology, human impacts on vegetation and land forms, media and environmental issues)
Matt Huber (Political Economy, Historical Geography, Energy and Capitalism, Oil, Resource Governance, and Social Theory)
Susan Millar (Physical geography, periglacial geomorphology, microclimatology, Arctic environmental science)
Mark Monmonier (Geographic information (technology, policy, and societal role), cartographic communication and map design, history of cartography in the 20th century, environmental mapping)
Thomas Perreault (Political ecology, environment and development, social movements, Latin America)
Jane Read (Geographic information systems, remote sensing, tropical environments, land use and land cover change, Latin America)
Farhana Sultana (political ecology, environment-development conflicts, water resources management, natural hazards, South Asia)
Robert Wilson (American and Canadian environmental history, historical geography, environmental thought and policy, American West)

Related Courses

GEO 203 Society and the Politics of Nature 
GEO 215 Global Environmental Change  
GEO 314 Hazardous Geographic Environments 
GEO 316 River Environments 
GEO 317 Mountain Environments 
GEO 318 Tropical Environments 
GEO 319 Cold Environments 
GEO 340 Geography of Oil 
GEO 353 Environmental Justice 
GEO 354 American Environmental History and Geography 
GEO 356 Environmental Ideas and Policy 
GEO 358 Animals and Society 
GEO 360 Sustainability Science and Policy: The Threat of Climate Change
GEO 374 Environment and Development in the Global South 
GEO 400 Water: Environment, Society, and Politics
GEO 400 Urban Environmental History
GEO 415 Food: A Critical Geography 
GEO 430 Energy, History and Society 

GEO 551 Research in Environmental and Land Use Policy
GEO 606 Development and Sustainability
GEO 655 Biogeography 
GEO 682 Environmental Remote Sensing 

GEO 730 Political Economy of Nature
GEO 754 Seminar in Environmental History 
GEO 755 Seminar in Political Ecology