Studying Geography: What to Expect

The Department of Geography prides itself in its innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Prior to the disruptions caused by this pandemic, we have regularly offered fully online graduate programs, and our undergraduate online course offerings have provided students with challenging and creative opportunities to make progress toward their degree with flexibility and convenience. Given this extensive experience, our faculty have worked this summer to design high-quality, pedagogically-sound, and student-centered teaching across different platforms and modalities—including online and in the classroom, on and off campus.

During Fall and Spring of this academic year, we will be offering a mix of online as well as hybrid courses where students will explore a range of geographic inquiry, including virtual field trips, conduct their own research, and then discuss their findings in smaller in-person group sessions. Our goal is and has been to provide students with cutting-edge learning in a highly supportive and safe environment.

Our faculty members are world-class researchers, but they are also award-winning teachers and educators. Three of our colleagues have won the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching, two have been awarded the student-nominated “Teacher who made a difference” awards, and others have won teaching awards from national organizations. In addition to these honors, our faculty and teaching assistants regularly win college-wide outstanding teaching awards.

We can ensure that our students in our introductory and UK Core courses will be taught by our most experienced instructors. We have adjusted our scheduling to create smaller recitation sessions led by deeply committed teaching assistants, whether over video conference or in person. Our lab-based courses will be making use of virtual labs, including remote connections to campus software suites, as well as making use of open-access software downloads. We will also be holding office hours via online platforms, in addition to using group chats, email, and other messaging services to answer questions and provide guidance on assignments.

While our transition in March of 2020 to online delivery of courses was sudden, our faculty stepped up. Students from the spring term expressed excitement for the many ways that our faculty facilitated small-group, intimate learning sessions via our various online platforms. Students also appreciated the fact that faculty were highly supportive, flexible, and cared deeply about student success and well-being during the swift pivot to remote learning. The Department of Geography is excited to welcome students back to the classroom, whether in person or remote, synchronous or asynchronous. There is much to learn and discuss about the geography of our communities, our environment, and our changing world.