College of Social Sciences
Saunders Hall 445
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8465
Fax: (808) 956-3512


*Graduate Faculty

*R. Jones, PhD (Chair)—political geography, globalization, borders, sovereign state system, nationalism, South Asia
*D. Beilman, PhD—biogeography, long-term ecology, terrestrial carbon accumulation, climate change
*Q. Chen, PhD—remote sensing, geographic information systems, geostatistics, spatially-explicit modeling
*T. W. Giambelluca, PhD—climatology, hydrology
*H. Jiang, PhD—cultural geography, environment, perception of nature, China
*A. Kagawa-Viviani, PhD—ecohydrology, restoration, water resources
*M. Karides, PhD—island studies, feminisms, political economy
*C. Mora, PhD—interlinks between biodiversity patterns, processes, threats and human welfare
*M. Mostafanezhad, PhD—cultural politics of tourism, politics of consumption, Thailand
*K. Suryanata, PhD—political ecology, agrarian change, natural resource management, Southeast Asia
*R. A. Sutherland, PhD (Associate Dean)—geomorphology, soil erosion, water quality
*B. Szuster, PhD—coastal resource management, environmental impacts assessment, marine recreation, Thailand

Emeritus Faculty

R. Fuchs, PhD—climate change and adaptation, Asian cities
G. Fuller, PhD—population growth, geography of fertility
N. Lewis, PhD—medical geography
B. Murton, PhD—human geography, indigenous studies
M. Ridgley, PhD—resource management
A. Rieser, PhD—human geography of oceans
L. Wester, PhD—biogeography, Southeast Asia

Adjunct Faculty

D. Eisinger, PhD—atmospheric pollution
B. Gomez, PhD—geomorphology
K. M. Woods, PhD—political ecology, geography of war and resources

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

L. Bremer, PhD—conservation, social-ecological systems, water resources, Hawai‘i
E. Franklin, PhD—marine ecology, coral reefs, fish and fisheries, computational and quantitative methods, invasive species
M. D. Merlin, PhD—biogeography, natural history of Hawai‘i
D. Spencer, PhD—sustainable tourism policy, planning and management

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

H. Diaz, PhD—global climate research, atmospheric conditions
M. Fisher, PhD—political ecology, conservation, Southeast Asia
J. Fox, PhD—social forestry, resources, Southeast Asia
A. G. Frazier, PhD—climate change, geospatial climatology
L. Kelley, PhD—political ecology, land use, remote sensing
L. Mei-Singh, PhD—environment, racial capitalism, indigeneity, and militarism
Y. Qiang, PhD—geographic information science, visual analytics, geocomputation, human dynamics

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in geography and environment, Undergraduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science, MA in geography and environment, PhD in geography and environment, Graduate Certificate in Ocean Policy

The Academic Program

Geography and Environment (GEO) provides a broad and flexible academic program that explores the human and environmental systems that shape the surface of the Earth. The discipline investigates the interaction of culture, society, ecology and physical environments that characterize particular places and studies how these relationships vary across space. The undergraduate program at UH Mānoa focuses on three interlocking subdisciplines: human geography, environmental geography, and geographic technologies. Human geography investigates the cultural, economic, and political processes that shape human experiences on the Earth; the relationship between the environment, society, and culture; and the nature of place in the Asia-Pacific region. Environmental geography engages in a systematic study of the Earth’s physical environment (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere) and considers the challenges associated with natural resource management and global environmental change. Geographic technologies include the study of cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensing science.

Students who study geography and environment obtain a holistic understanding of the world and a set of methodological tools that can be applied to a wide range of domestic and international career opportunities. Geographers are involved in environmental planning, natural resource management and social policy development with all levels of government, private firms, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and international agencies. Hawai‘i’s unique historical, socio-cultural and environmental context also provides a fascinating setting for geographical investigations into the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


The geography and environment major requires at least 31 credit hours including:

Core Required Courses (19 credit hours)

  • GEO 101, 101L, 151 or 102, 104, 325, 380, 493

Elective Upper Division Specialization Courses (12 credit hours)

At least 12 credit hours (6 credits at the 400 level) drawn from the following list of courses. Students are encouraged to focus on courses within environmental geography, human geography, or geospatial technology, or to develop a combination of courses to fit their interest

  • Environmental Geography: GEO 300, 302, 303, 305, 309, 310, 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 415
  • Human Geography: GEO 320, 322, 324, 330, 335, 421, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 432, 435, 436, 453
  • Geospatial Technology: GEO 370, 376, 388, 470, 472, 476, 489
  • Asia-Pacific Region: GEO 340, 352, 353, 355, 356, 365, 366, 368
  • Directed Studies (with approval and under the supervision of faculty): GEO 399, 468, 490, 492, 499

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to programsheets/.



The minor in geography requires 15 credits of upper division course work in geography, which should include at least one course in each of the three areas: human geography, environmental geography, and geotechnology.

Undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science

The GIS certificate program provides practical geospatial information science skills that are highly sought after by the private sector, government, and academic employers. The certificate will be of particular interest to students majoring in natural resource management, earth and ocean sciences, biophysical, and social sciences. It offers a systematic set of courses that focus on the acquisition, processing, generation, visualization, analysis, management, and dissemination of geospatial data. The program requires 16 total credit hours.

Required Courses (7 credits)

  • GEO 370, 388, and 492 (one-credit practicum)

Elective Courses (9 credits)

  • Students may petition for the inclusion of one 3-credit course outside the following courses: GEO 470, 471, 472, 476, and 489.

4+1 BAM BA/MA in Geography and Environment

Combined Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree (BAM) pathway affords a way for highly motivated students to complete a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in a shorter timeframe by double counting course work (up to 3 courses) at the undergraduate tuition rate. In most cases, pathway students graduate with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree within 5 years total. For more information, see

4+1 BAM BA/MA in Sustainability and Geography and Environment

Combined Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree (BAM) pathway affords a way for highly motivated students to complete a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in a shorter timeframe by double counting course work (up to 3 courses) at the undergraduate tuition rate. In most cases, pathway students graduate with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree within 5 years total. For more information, see

Graduate Study

The department offers programs of graduate study and research leading to the MA and PhD degrees. Faculty interests and supporting strengths of UH Mānoa provide advantages for study of the following general topics: (a) environmental studies and policies; and (b) resource management and systems.

Applicants are expected to have a broad-based undergraduate education encompassing basic courses in the physical sciences, social sciences, and humanities. They should have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of environmental and human geography and of basic cartographic and quantitative techniques. Intended candidates for the MA or PhD need not have an undergraduate major in geography; students from related fields are welcome, but any subject-area weakness must be remedied by course work.

Holders of graduate degrees in geography are employed in research and administrative positions in county, state, federal, and international agencies; research positions in private business, especially consulting firms; and teaching positions in secondary schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities.

Master’s Degree

The department offers a Plan A (thesis) program. In consultation with an advisory committee, the candidate plans a coherent program of study drawn from departmental offerings and pertinent courses from other UH Mānoa departments and programs. Each MA student must complete a minimum 30-credit program, including:

  • 7 credit hours of core classes (GEO 692, 695, 696)
  • 12 credit hours in the chosen field of specialization
  • 3 credit hours in advanced research skills
  • 8 credit hours in GEO 700 Thesis Research

Doctoral Degree

The PhD program consists of advanced courses and research seminars in the department, independent reading and research, and work in related disciplines. Each candidate will be expected to have taken the core program required for MA candidates or its equivalent. In addition, the following are common elements of all geography PhD programs:

  • Familiarity with the general development of geographic thought (GEO 695);
  • Minimum of 15 credit hours in graduate courses in a departmental field of specialization (course work taken at the MA/MS level may be used in partial fulfillment of this requirement);
  • Minimum of 6 credit hours in research methods or techniques (statistics, cartography, remote sensing, GIS, quantitative or qualitative methods, computer applications, field methods, experimental methods, laboratory techniques or bibliographic techniques);
  • Passing of written and oral comprehensive examinations;
  • Submission and defense of a satisfactory dissertation.

Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate

Governance and stewardship of our oceans requires an interdisciplinary approach grounded in both theory and empirical study of the human-marine environment. The Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate is designed as a concurrent program for classified graduate students and law students in good standing. Community professionals and practitioners who meet minimum admissions requirements are also eligible to build their skills in ocean policy development, fisheries economics, coastal planning and management, ocean law, and marine politics. Students custom-design a 15-credit program that draws on marine-related courses at UH Mānoa in geography, economics, environmental law, political science, public policy, and planning. A major paper or internship is also required. For further information and applications, see the department’s web page at