Geographers use the lens of location to analyze human-environment interactions and global challenges, both locally and abroad.
By studying issues like food, poverty, housing, migration, health, and urbanization, geographers examine how people interact with one another and their environments. We study how processes shape places (and vice versa), and how places are linked together, often sharing our findings through carefully crafted reports, illustrations, and infographics. Our work is part policy and data analysis, part history, and part empirical observation, served up with sides of storytelling and graphic design.
We do love a good map. Nevertheless, if you thought geography was going to be about memorizing state capitals, we have so much more to show you.
Recent Geography Department Partnerships
Why study geography at Macalester?
It’s rare to find a geography department at a liberal arts college these days—especially in a major metropolitan area. Our size offers our students the quintessential small-college benefits, like small classes and close working relationships with faculty. Our location offers tons of collaborative and ambitious course-based opportunities for you to work on real-world projects like transit development or how to preserve fresh water resources. Our professors cultivate diverse community partnerships with local nonprofits, government councils, and other organizations who regularly come to our students for help with projects—and often later, with job offers. But we’re not limited to the Twin Cities. We teach in, conduct fieldwork, and take students to Africa, East Asia, North America, and South America on a regular basis.
Geography isn’t just a subject; it’s a discipline. That means we’ll teach you to think like a geographer—sharpening your critical thinking and showing you how to look for context and connections—while equipping you with technical and design skills in GIS (geographic information systems) and geovisualization. These skills help you translate complex information into powerful visual tools. Many of your assignments will be small-group projects designed to help you learn collaborative skills and bond with your classmates. And at Macalester, we pride ourselves on using that skillset to help make our community and the wider world into a more just and equitable place.
Recent student projects
- Understanding the Construction of Accessibility and Mobility: Non-Car Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri
- Chacra Farming, Peasant Livelihood Portfolios and Identities in the Peruvian Andes
- Resiliency to Changes in Urban Government Finance in Greater Minnesota
- Correcting for the Inconveniences of Cultivation: Foraging as a Food Source in Southwestern Burkina Faso
- A Cultural Atlas: Curious City: In, Out, Above, Beyond Saint Paul
Life after Macalester
Geography majors go on to a wide range of careers. Many develop passions for fields like urban planning or environmental policy; others become consultants in international development or work in the design field, and a few become professional cartographers. Our students are well prepared for graduate school, and many go on to master’s and PhD programs at some of the best universities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
- Colorado State University
- City University of New York (CUNY) School of Labor & Urban Studies
- Indiana University
- London School of Economics
- Massachusetts Inst of Tech (MIT)
- McGill University
- Michigan State University
- New York University (NYU)
- Northwestern University
- Rochester Inst of Tech
- Syracuse University
- Universiteit van Amsterdam
- University of California-Berkeley
- University of California-Davis
- University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)
- University of Colorado-Boulder
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Iowa
- University of Kentucky
- University of Minnesota
- University of Oregon
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Toronto
- University of Washington
- University of Wisconsin
- Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
- Yale School of Law
- Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village
- Ascend Charter Schools
- BlueGreen Alliance Foundation
- Camino Public Relations
- City of Minneapolis
- Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa
- Cycles for Change
- Dream / Harlem RBI Middle School
- EHS Support - environmental, health, and safety solutions
- El Colegio High School
- FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Food and Drug Administration
- Geosyntec Consultants
- IBI Group - global architecture, engineering, planning, and technology firm defining the cities of tomorrow
- ICF International - strategic consulting for a digital world
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
- Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
- Institute for Local Self-Reliance GIS & Policy
- Institute of Southern Jewish Life
- Kimley-Horn - planning and design
- King County Metro Transit
- Lazarus House - ministry that works to break the cycle of poverty
- Map Mavn
- Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group
- Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities
- Minneapolis Promise Zone
- Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers
- Minnesota Housing Partnership
- NASA and NASA DEVELOP
- National Community Reinvestment Coalition
- National Geographic Society
- National Park Service
- New Mexico Immigrant Law Center
- New York City Department of Transportation
- New York City Department of Finance
- Peace Corps
- Population Services International
- Ramsey County
- Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District
- Spark-Y Youth Actions Labs
- Spatial Networks
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- Wall Street Journal
- World Wildlife Fund
Geography in the cities
Our courses regularly partner with Twin Cities organizations and institutions, like the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Internships mentored by Geography faculty in the last five years
Present course findings to councilmembers at city hall.
Join our community
- Field Trips – Every year, professors take dozens of students on trips around the Twin Cities and the wider region.
- Geography Honors Society – In addition to typical honors society events, we organize regular Geography Department social events for all our majors, like Black Panther and popcorn night, or a trip to the John R. Borchert Map Library.
- Geography Lounge – Not on the official campus map, but our department has a pretty cozy set-up where majors often study together or chat with professors and classmates.
- Alumni Network – Alumni stay connected with each other and the college, often acting as mentors for current students.
Our alumni form a tight-knit community, too, and they stay connected with one another and with the college long after they graduate. Many current students find opportunities to meet with geography majors from years past, who can serve as mentors or the first links in a professional network.
TWO GEOGRAPHY PROFS HONORED
WITH ENDOWED CHAIRS – Save the Dates!
Dewitt Wallace Professor of Geography
Lecture & Reception – September 24, 2020
DeWitt Wallace Professor of Geography
Lecture & Reception – November 19, 2020
ALUMNI LIFE HISTORY PROJECT
The Geography Alumni Life History Project reflects the semester-long work of students in Qualitative Research Methods (GEOG 377).
Curious City: In, Out, Above, Beyond Saint Paul, a cultural atlas of Saint Paul, Minnesota, created by the Geography Department’s Cultural Atlas Production course in SP 2019.
Macalester’s chapter of the national honor society, Gamma Theta Upsilon, publishes a monthly newsletter featuring department news, upcoming events, and spotlights of current majors.
Have you heard about the book, Seattleness ? Watch the interview of the three co-authors, Tera Hatfield, design director, Jenny Kempson, multidisciplinary designer, and Natalie Ross ’05, landscape architect. The interview is moderated by Sarah Ellwood ’94, Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography at the University of Washington.
Our department in the news
How will COVID-19 affect Africa’s food systems? | African Arguments | March 25, 2020
Macalester geography professor and director of the Program for Food, Agriculture, and Society William Moselely wrote this article.
Letitia VanSant’s Mighty Heart Keeps a "Circadian" Rhythm | PASTE | February 20, 2020
A review of the sophomore album of Nashville singer Letitia Vansant '08, "Circadian." The magazine writes that the work "practices empathy instead of preaching."