Degree Requirements

The education of a geography major at Mānoa has two goals. First, the student is prepared to accept the role of a world citizen. This person should be knowledgeable about the interaction of environmental and cultural processes and be prepared to be involved in geographic issues in local and broader settings. Second, we want all majors to be prepared to assume professional employment in an area that relates to their interests and education.

Geography provides a broad perspective on human and physical phenomena that define and transform the surface of the Earth. It explores the complexity of and interrelationships among the cultures, economics, histories, ecologies, and physical state that characterize particular places and how such relationships vary across space. Three themes, (1) the operation on interlocking systems of the natural environment; (2) the relationship between environment and society; (3) the nature of place and space and the relationships and processes defining and changing them; brings a focus upon the myriad political and environmental challenges in the contemporary world.

These challenges include global environmental change, its causes, and its implications for the human experience; resource management and regional development in the Third World; regional conflict fed by ethnic, religious, economic, and territorial differences; the making of resource and locational decisions; the collection, processing, display and communication, and management of spatial information. The department is uniquely placed to examine these issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Hawai`i’s historical, socio-cultural, economic, and environment context provides a fascinating setting for learning and research and can serve as a springboard into the wider region.


General Education


The major is comprised of a minimum of 37 credit hours of geography courses. In actual practice most students take more than the minimum credit hours to pursue their own special interests. All students will take coursework that will lead to a general knowledge of the environmental processes that affect the sea, land, atmosphere and water that surround us all and that conditions the quality of our everyday lives and affects our behavior. We expect all students to also have an understanding of world cultural processes that are a part of our personal and national identity. We want students to understand the interaction of population characteristics, economic development, political and social movements. All conditions that add color and personal meaning to our personal and collective lives.


In addition to the core general background, we want students to be able to analyze data available from field work and a variety of other sources. Knowledge and understanding of geographic processes are based both on observation and data assembled by others. We expect the geography major to develop skill in geographic seeing. In addition we expect majors to know where to locate maps, photographs and imagery of geographic processes and have skill in interpreting and analyzing these data. Students need to know more than just analyzing data, they need to be able to summarize the results of their analysis and communicate their conclusions to their peers verbally and in illustrated written forms. Statistical analysis is an important part of the interpretation of data that everyone is showered with daily. Having the ability to absorb, discard and understand statistical information and add it to what we see directly and interpret from graphic sources is a core part of a geographic education.


By completion of the major, we want the student to be able to critically formulate geographic problems and conduct research relating to them. A part of this research is a polished skill in presenting their results and conclusions to their peers and the general community. The student needs to demonstrate an ability to articulate the tenets of geography and how they contribute to the general role of an educated citizen.


Upper Division Coursework


We want all majors to gain experience in the geographic methodologies that are practiced by the faculty at Mānoa. All majors are expected to take one upper division course in each of the areas of physical, human and regional geography and one course in geographic technology. The purpose of exposing the student to a wide range of methods is to both show each major that there are alternate approaches to geographic knowledge and give the student a range of experience that might make the choice of the area of concentration better fit individual interests. In addition to these four breadth electives, we ask all majors to select one (or more) of the Mānoa geography specialties to concentrate on with three additional upper division courses. This extra coursework and experience will hopefully add to the student's preparation for achieving their professional goals and provide a good grounding for possible graduate studies. In practice, very few of our majors graduate with the minimum of coursework. Students often complete more than one concentration and supplement their required work with special research projects, interns and other type of field investigations.


Important Information regarding new Geography requirements begining Fall 2010.

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