Geography & Environmental Studies at Aquinas College
  • students holding electronic devices standing in circle

    Geography & Environmental Studies

  • Students standing outside

    Geography & Environmental Studies

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    Geography & Environmental Studies

  • students and professor looking at nature

    Geography & Environmental Studies

student working on computer New concentration in the Geography major: Geospatial Technologies 
Aquinas is now offering a new concentration in the Geography major of Geospatial Technologies. This new concentration will be serving students who have a strong interest in current technologies. >Read More  >Degree Information

Over the course of two years, Aquinas College Geography & Environmental Studies students worked with archived printed tree maps to painstakingly identify as many tree species as possible on the AQ campus.
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Allows students the opportunity to concentrate on an area of study that fits their career interests, with four completely new concentrations:  


  • Ecology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Sustainability and Policy

Contact Dr. Rich McCluskey for more details.

Aquinas Science Building North Aquinas College Embarks on $32 million Science Facility Enhancement 

As a part of our commitment to the sciences, Aquinas College has embarked on a campaign that includes a $32 million renovation and expansion of our science facilities. Science expansion will pave the way for new programs, innovative research, and student engagement to prepare scientists, nurses, engineers, and mathematicians who will contribute to the regional STEM workforce, education initiatives and research. >Read More


Aquinas is one of only two liberal arts colleges in Michigan to offer a geography major.


Faculty have expertise in the triad of geography: physical geography, human geography, and geographic techniques.


Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through faculty-directed research projects(e.g, Mohler-Thompson Summer Program) and internships in the local community (e.g, City of Grand Rapids, Grand Valley Metro Council, Michigan Department of Transportation, and others).


Aquinas geography graduates are employed in a wide variety of jobs including: urban planner, dam inspector, property tax assessor, environmental educator, GIS director, and college professor.


A strong, broad curriculum in geography prepares students well to continue on to graduate school. Since 2006, 100% of graduates applying to geography graduate programs have been awarded assistantships or fellowships.


Geography majors have gone on to receive major fellowships (David Baylis - Fulbright-Hays) and study at highly respected graduate institutions across the US including: Oregon, Syracuse, Georgia, Rutgers, Cal Poly, Texas, Missouri, Michigan State, Cleveland State, Kent State, Northern Illinois, Ohio U. and Western Michigan). As well, department graduates have taken positions at Dartmouth, Delta State, and Massey University (New Zealand).


Between 2007 and 2015, the number of grads earning master’s degrees in cartography increased annually by more than 40 percent on average.


Both cartography (map making)and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) are full semester classes, giving students a strong background in geographic techniques.


We use the same GIS software as local, state, and federal agencies, so that students have the skills for entry level employment in the field of GIS.


Most geography programs are found in large universities where faculty work mostly with graduate students, but at Aquinas our geography undergraduates are our only majors.

Hands-On Experience

Shirey Wins 2nd Place Award at Regional Geography Conference
April Shirey, a senior majoring in Geography, earned second place for her presentation at the 2018 Association of American Geographers East Lakes Division meeting at Ohio Northern University in October. April’s paper, titled “Phalaris arudinacea,” discussed the origins of this grass species along with ecological traits, including its potential benefit in wastewater treatment. Her research was expanded from an earlier Biogeography (GY 360) project.

Stacey Murphy 2017 wins statewide mapping technologies scholarship
The Charlevoix County Community Foundation, along with the Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals (MiCAMP), have announced that Aquinas Geography major Stacey Murphy is their 2017 scholarship winner.  This award is designed to benefit a college-level junior or senior studying geospatial technologies who has an interest in applying their geospatial knowledge in a public sector career. >Read More

Summer Internships and Research Experiences

Three Geography/Environmental Studies students spent this past summer immersed in practical applications of concepts introduced in their earlier class work. Jacob Towne worked with Dr. Clinthorne as a student researcher in the Mohler-Thompson research program, Jessa Challa worked as a GIS Analyst Intern for the City of Grand Rapids, and Courtney Cromley spent the summer at the Blanford Nature Center gaining experience as a Land Stewardship Intern, Jacob Towne and Dr. Clinthorne spent the summer studying agricultural land use change in Kent County over a period of about four decades. >Read More