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The Department of Geography and Environment is a great place to study questions of diversity and justice. Here we have outlined courses that fit together to form a pathway through the major for student interested in these topics.


The Diversity and Justice Pathway

Making space for change

How do the places, spaces, and environments that we inhabit reinforce structures of oppression or create the potential for justice? Social movements and activists have created spatial theories and strategies to change the world: by occupying public space, by fighting for the protection of sacred lands, by creating their own media to change how their community is perceived, and by claiming (or producing) local environmental knowledges. Geographers draw inspiration from this political work to develop new ways of thinking and acting for social change. In our classes, you will learn how power works through space; that all politics unfolds in places; that everyday life is political; that environmental issues are connected to social justice; how science and technology are shaped by politics; and that we are active participants in creating a world that is both local and global. This pathway is interdisciplinary and gives you opportunities to learn and use a variety of tools including mapping technologies, remote sensing, environmental measurement techniques, oral histories and interviews, visual methods and demography to conduct research that questions the status quo.


Geographers in our department are studying:

urban gentrification in Durham

indigenous movements and politics

climate change impacts on vulnerable communities

diverse and transnational Muslim identities                     

migrant communities in the New South

conflicts over oil and coal                     

global commodity chains

health disparities by race and neighborhood

environmental racism                           

food justice



Course Recommendations

Building Block Courses

  • 56 First-Year Seminar: Local Places in a Globalizing World
  • 67 First-Year Seminar: The Politics of Everyday Life
  • 121 People and Places
  • 123 Cultural Geography
  • 130 Development and Inequality
  • 225 Space, Place, and Difference
  • 228 Urban Geography

Justice-focused Classes

Power and politics

  • 212 Environmental Conservation and Global Change
  • 232 Agriculture, Food, and Society
  • 267 South Asia
  • 259 Geography of Latin America

Advanced courses

  • 423 Social Geography
  • 424 Geographies of Religion
  • 428 Urban Geography
  • 429 Urban Political Geography with service work in Durham
  • 430 Global Migrations, Local Impacts: Urbanization and Migration in the United States
  • 445 Medical Geography
  • 447 Gender, Space, and Place in the Middle East
  • 448 Transnational Geographies of Muslim Societies
  • 453 Political Geography
  • 460 Geographies of Economic Change
  • 464 Europe Today
  • 470 Political Ecology
  • 480 Liberation Geographies
  • 650 Technology and Democracy Workshop

Methods Courses in Geography and Environment

  • 370 Introduction to Geographic Information
  • 391 Quantitative Methods in Geography
  • 392 Research Methods in Geography
  • 491: Intro to GIS
  • 541: GIS and Public Health
  • 543: Qualitative Methods in Geography
  • 591: Applied GIS