Jul 02, 2022  
2019-2020 General Catalog 
2019-2020 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography, Environment and Planning

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Department Office
(707) 664-2306

Department Chair
Jeff Baldwin

Administrative Staff
Kimberly Kaido-Alvarez


Jeffrey Baldwin
Caroline Christian
Matthew Clark
Michelle Goman
Javi Hernández Ayala
Thomas Jacobson
Rheyna Laney
Daniel Soto
Laura A. Watt

The Geography, Environment, and Planning (GEP) Department’s mission is to promote excellence in teaching and research across five areas of focus:
1) human-environment conflict and collaboration;
2) building resilience with environmental systems;
3) the application of geospatial and quantitative analyses to solving complex environmental and societal problems;
4) management and planning for sustainable communities; and
5) urban planning.  For students, those goals are met through two degrees.

The Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environment bridges the natural and social sciences in order to provide a more holistic and systematic analysis of the world. All students take a common set of foundational and intermediate courses that establish a strong background in the natural, social and quantitative sciences. They then take more specialized courses in their area of concentration. Five concentrations are offered, mirroring the five areas of focus identified above. Students also take two-semester capstone courses that pull their educational experience together.

The Bachelor of Science in Energy Management and Design prepares students to become professionals in the energy field. The curriculum is interdisciplinary, with foundational courses in math, physics, chemistry, computer science and economics. A set of upper division concentration courses within the department pulls those skills together as they apply to energy management.

Both degrees strengthen students’ writing, critical thinking and oral presentation skills, which are important for any successful career. The degrees also encourage students to take on internships and engage in other practical experiences that help prepare for the working world.

Careers in Geography, Environment, and Planning

Each concentration within the Geography, Environment, and Planning curriculum provides students with strong interdisciplinary backgrounds in the social and physical sciences, planning, and energy management. This combination of breadth and in-depth instruction allows students to develop the intellectual foundations, skills, and flexibility needed to deal with the specific environmental and social issues of today and the future. Through the interdisciplinary nature of the degree program and concentrations, GEP graduates become prepared for careers in both the public and private sectors including environmental management and restoration, city and regional planning, education and environmental outreach, and residential and commercial energy fields. Graduates from the department often pursue advanced degree programs in a variety of fields (e.g. geography, ecology, planning, environmental law, education).

Admission Requirements

When applying to Sonoma State University and declaring a major, a student may declare a B.A. in Geography and Environment or a B.S. in Environmental Studies, Energy Management and Design. There are no admissions requirements for the B.A. in Geography and Environment degree. The B.S. in Environmental Studies degree requires students attain a minimum GPA of 2.75. A student considering this degree should make an appointment to see a faculty member for academic advising.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Students seeking financial aid to assist them in their studies should contact the financial aid office. Several scholarships are provided specifically for GEP students through the University scholarship program. Please refer to the Scholarships section of this catalog.

Department Resources

Geospatial Technology Instructional Laboratory (GISL)

The Geography, Environment, and Planning Department has a well-equipped computer laboratory that supports advanced instruction in geographic information systems (GIS), satellite image processing, digital cartography, and laboratory and field methods’ data analysis. The GTIL includes 17 workstations, ArcGIS Desktop, ERDAS Imagine, IDRISI, Adobe Illustrator, and geobrowsers.

Map Library

The Map Library houses an extensive collection of digital and paper maps, and aerial photography.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Analysis (CIGA)

The Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Analysis promotes the application of geospatial technology to social and environmental problems through research, education, and community service. The lab seeks interdisciplinary collaboration among campus and external researchers, students, and other organizations in projects that involve geographic information and spatial analysis at local to global scales. The CIGA provides computer, software and data resources, Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing expertise, consulting services, educational courses, and community outreach. Students are given a unique opportunity to broaden and refine their education by working on real-world problems in CIGA research projects and service contracts.

The Climate Research Center (CRC)

The Climate Research Center conducts research on climate science phenomena (e.g. hurricanes, droughts, and floods) with a special focus on their connections with climate variability, climate change and human activities. The CRC promotes the application of statistical methods and geographic information systems (GIS) to address climate science problems. The CRC aims to collaborate in multidisciplinary climate research with members of the SSU community, organizations or individuals in the Sonoma area and with researchers globally. The CRC houses state-of-the-art computers and cutting-edge software. Students working in the CRC can experience climate science in action and will gain essential data analysis skills

Sonoma Quaternary Laboratory (SQUAL)

The Sonoma Quaternary Laboratory specializes in reconstructing ecological, climate and landscape change caused by environmental and climate forces as well as human impacts over the past several thousand years. These paleoenvironmental reconstructions provide an important context for evaluating current and future environmental and climate change. The SQUAL houses state-of-the-art equipment for micro- and macro-botanical analysis as well as other sedimentary analyses. Students working in SQUAL have the opportunity to gain unique field and laboratory research skills.

The Center for Sustainable Communities:

The Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC) works with cities and counties, special districts, and regional and state government agencies to develop planning policies and implementation strategies related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, planning for healthy communities, the relationship between land use and water resources, and other sustainability and resiliency topics. The CSC utilizes faculty, students, and “encore career” professionals (recently retired leaders from the environmental professions), providing mentoring and professional development opportunities for students and assistance to our government partners in addressing a wide array of environmental, economic, and social challenges.

The Environmental Technology Center:

A model for sustainable building techniques and technologies, this center includes energy and water-efficient landscaping, “smart building” control technologies, environmentally-sensitive materials, passive solar heating and cooling, and more. It serves as a training facility for building professionals and teachers and as an educational and research site.

The Classroom Garden:

The garden adjacent to the Environmental Technology Center teaches SSU students and members of the public about sustainable landscape practices and how these contribute to biodiversity and environmental health. Through internships, volunteering, and classroom experiences, students gain a sense of place, community, purpose, and an enriched academic experience.

The SSU Botanical and Kenneth M. Stocking Native Plant Garden:

A showcase of diverse California plant communities and a quiet place for education and relaxation. Located near the campus lakes, the garden includes a guided trail through woodland, marsh, and riparian ecosystems.

The Fairfield Osborn Preserve and Galbreath Wildlands Preserve:

Managed by the Center for Environmental Inquiry (CEI), SSU features two valuable off-campus learning environments. The Fairfield Osborn Preserve is 411-acre field station atop Sonoma Mountain that provides environmental education programs and opportunities for scientific research. The Preserve is a fifteen-minute drive from campus. Galbreath Wildlands Preserve is a 3,670 acre preserve nestled in the Coast Range of northern California. The mission of the preserves is to promote environmental education and research, as well as the effective stewardship of this diverse landscape.


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