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Learn more about the Department of Geography and Meteorology at Valpo online.
Professors Bals-Elsholz (chair), C. Clark, Goebbert, Longan, Wolf; Associate Professor Ganesh Babu; Assistant Professor McCool.
Geography studies the Earth and its diverse people and environments. It seeks to understand how humans perceive and transform places and landscapes around the world. Geographers also explore and analyze the spatial organization of natural and social phenomena by creating and analyzing maps with computerized geographic information systems (GIS). Geography students learn to integrate knowledge from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities in order to understand humanity’s relationship with the Earth. Geography uniquely combines a strong liberal arts education with marketable professional skills.
The major integrates dynamic classroom instruction with field and professional experience to prepare students for a wide variety of careers. Students completing the major may go on to careers in environmental management, urban planning, geospatial technology, cartography, location planning, real estate, tourism, marketing, demography, natural disaster preparation and recovery, international business, emergency management, social studies education, or earth science education to name just a few areas. Combining geography with a second major or pursuing graduate study in geography can enhance a student’s opportunities. Geography majors also pursue graduate study in other areas including urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental science, resource management, climatology, oceanography, geology, archaeology, anthropology, law, or medicine.
The Geography major at Valparaiso University emphasizes practical experience through field and laboratory based courses, internships, and opportunities to work with faculty on original research. Students taking physical geography courses visit a variety of nearby regional locations from the Indiana Dunes National Park to the local fields and streams, applying their classroom knowledge of landforms, taking observations, and bringing measurements and samples back into the lab for analysis. Students studying urban geography and planning take a short train ride into Chicago to experience the dynamism of the downtown Loop and to observe everyday life in its diverse neighborhoods. In field courses, students use the environment as their classroom; following the Oregon Trail while learning about physical and cultural geography of the western landscape of Yellowstone, or traversing the National Parks and cultural aspects of the desert southwest in Peaks and Pueblos. Most geography students complete a paid or unpaid internship with national parks, urban planning agencies, environmental organizations, county and city governments, non-profit organizations, or businesses. Many geography students also complete one of Valparaiso University’s study abroad programs. Motivated students may arrange to work with a faculty member on original research problems or work as a lab assistant for physical geography and GIS courses.
Outside the classroom, students share their love for geography through the Geography Club, which organizes professional and social activities, weekend field excursions, and guest speakers. Students who distinguish themselves by high scholarship may be elected to membership in Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geography honor society. The Alpha Xi Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon was installed at Valparaiso University in 1950.
The geography program at Valparaiso University has access to state-of-the-art facilities including the F.P. Kallay Geographic Applications Laboratory, an extensive map library located in the Christopher Center, media-equipped classrooms in Kallay‒ Christopher Hall and an expanding collection of instrumentation in the physical geography lab.
Because geography offers undergraduate students excellent opportunities to develop their professional skills through course work, field study, and internships, the department maintains information sheets on geography as a second major or minor tailored specifically to disciplines such as biology, civil engineering, business, world language, history, sociology/anthropology, and political science. The Kallay Laboratory is designed to facilitate research and teaching in the area of computerized geographic analysis, including GIS, remote sensing, and cartography. Other courses analyzing ethnic relations and global cultures will strengthen student interests in the humanities and social sciences. Contact the chair of the department for more information or visit the department’s web page at valpo.edu/geographymeteorology.
The atmospheric science course of study at Valparaiso University leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. The science of meteorology draws heavily on the fields of mathematics, physics, computer science, and chemistry. As such, students should possess a strong mathematics and science background. The required major courses prepare every student in the foundations of atmospheric science. The elective courses reflect the diverse nature of the science, enrich each student’s academic experience, and prepare them for post-graduate careers.
The job market in meteorology, like the field itself, is rich and diverse. Many graduates enter employment with airlines, private forecasting and environmental consulting firms, emergency management offices, or the National Weather Service. Others pursue professional opportunities with the U.S. Air Force through the University’s Air Force ROTC program (see Military Leadership Minor - Air Force Minor and Military Leadership Minor - Army Minor ). Still others pursue careers in research and academia, which require graduate training. Valparaiso University graduates have gone on to many of the finest meteorology graduate programs in the country.
Broadcast meteorology represents another promising career sector, and many meteorology graduates have achieved success in this field. There is considerable demand nationwide for trained professionals able to communicate meteorological information effectively and accurately, either through the broadcast media (cable, television, and radio) or in association with various consulting firms. Students prepare for this field through hands-on training and experience in broadcasting in the VUTV studios in Schnabel Hall and through internships at a variety of broadcast stations across the country, including WGN-TV in Chicago. Those interested in careers in broadcast meteorology should complete a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology and a Digital Media Arts Minor through the Department of Communication and Visual Arts .
Students interested in extracurricular learning opportunities are encouraged to participate in the student chapter of the American Meteorological Society/National Weather Association, with the Valparaiso University Storm Intercept Team (VUSIT), and avail themselves of the program’s field course opportunities, including the Severe Convective Storms Field Study. The local chapter of Chi Epsilon Pi meteorology honor society promotes excellence and further training in meteorology. Internships and cooperative education experiences are also available to qualified students. The department maintains a high-tech weather center with individual work stations, access to UNIDATA and GEMPAK analysis tools and data retrieval, as well as to the department’s instrumentation data sets for Valparaiso University’s dual polarization Doppler radar, weather instrumentation tower, and radiosonde launching systems.
In order to remain in the major, students must maintain a combined minimum grade point average of 2.300 in all Valparaiso University meteorology courses and in those mathematics and physics courses required for meteorology. Students will be reviewed initially at the end of their second semester on campus and each academic year thereafter.
Completion of the degree requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences with a major in Geography or Geography Education leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Completion of the degree requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences with a major in Geography, or Meteorology leads to the Bachelor of Science degree.
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