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Major in Geography

Choosing your major can be difficult as you weigh your interests, skills, and the opportunities available. Learn more about the potential opportunities available for those with a major in geography, both as students and as alumni.

Opportunities in Geography

There are a few basic questions you're probably asking yourself as you consider whether a major in geography is right for you.

The view from the Economist:

Get some answers directly from those who have been down this road before — our alumni:


In geography, our world-class faculty members are extremely dedicated not only to our research, but to the teaching and mentoring of our students. That is why faculty-student collaboration on high-level research is not only one of Colgate's distinctions, but also a particularly strong feature of the geography department:
By collaborating with our faculty on research, you can be doing graduate-level research and learning in the field and on campus as an undergraduate student. Without graduate students to compete with, you can quickly become an important contributor to research projects like the examples below:

* = Former or current Colgate student co-author
Forest Recovery and "Tree Change" in Central New York
Klepeis, Peter, Lalonde, Tara*, Svajlenka, Nicole*, Scull, Peter, and Nicholas Gill. Nd.
Manuscript in preparation for American Midland Naturalist

Historical deforestation and forest recovery in the northeastern United States holds important implications for ecosystem services. Drawing on aerial photograph interpretation a case study from central New York State shows 27.4% of the land area in the Town of Eaton reforested from 1936 to 2003. The recovery is linked primarily to well-established, inter-decadal processes: a decline in the farming sector, land abandonment on relatively poor soils, and changing life goals within farming families. New dynamics may be strengthening the long-term trend, however. Interview and survey data show that the number of amenity-oriented landowners ― ‘tree changers’ ― is growing.
The Color of a Jerry Can: Stigma and Treatment of HIV in Rural Uganda
Kraly, Ellen Percy, Parrish, Lesley*, and Pons, Alex*
Paper presentation at AAG 2011

As a collaborative project with Bwindi Community Hospital, this research reveals dimensions of stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in communities in southwest Uganda. A goal of the hospital is to promote HIV testing, diagnosis, and treatment by identifying and addressing barriers to testing which are both geographic and social. To amplify the interpretation of survey data (including regional and national data) on HIV/AIDS, a series of focus group discussions were conducted in 2010 concerning social-spatial dimensions of stigma associated with the disease. The research design facilitated the comparison of men and women who are HIV positive, community members, and caregivers. Themes included community perceptions of the disease; characterization of the disease; attitudes and behaviors toward persons, notably children, known or believed to have the disease; the effect of the disease on marital and extended family relationships; and gendered dimensions of stigma. Emergent themes include issues of marginalization, blame, denial, and avoidance of both diagnosis and treatment, anticipation of death and family assets, and ways that personal privacy is challenged in community spaces and social and economic dynamics, among others. Results of this research have implications for both the evaluation, design of clinical and community outreach programs of the hospital, as well as social geographic research concerning vulnerability to infection and socio-spatial barriers to both diagnosis and treatment in rural areas. Provision of supplies such as the basic care package and the jerry can therein by international donors reveals a global source of the local stigma of HIV/AIDS.
Human Dimensions of Earthworm Invasion in the Adirondack State Park
Seidl, Dara E.* and Peter Klepeis
Human Ecology, August 2011.

The invasion of exotic earthworms in the Northern Forest of the United States alters carbon and nitrogen cycles and reduces forest litter and native plant cover. Humans are the principal agents of dispersal, spreading earthworms both inadvertently via horticulture, land disturbance, and in the tires and underbodies of vehicles, and voluntarily through composting and the improper disposal of fish bait. A study in Webb, N.Y. ─ a town located within the Adirondack State Park, one of the most celebrated cultural and ecological regions in the United States ─ exposes the human dimensions of earthworm invasion. Environmental history research, interviews with residents and bait sellers, and a mail survey of town residents show that positive attitudes towards earthworms and their ecological effects lead to casual disposal or use of them. Earthworm use is a strong cultural practice and the risk of their continued introduction in the Adirondacks is high.
Spatial analysis of shrew (Insectivora: Soricidae) species richness in North America north of Mexico
Berman, J.*, McCay, T., and Scull, P.
Acta Theriologica. 52 (2): 151-158 (2007)
Poverty Assessment Tools - A report prepared for Bwindi Community Hospital, Uganda
Kraly, Ellen Percy, Arditte, Stephanie*, D'Alessandro, Anna*, McArthur, Becca*, O'Shea, Grace*
Stigma Concerning HIV/AIDS in the Bwindi Region of Southwestern Uganda: Implementation and Analysis of Focus Group Interviews
Kraly, Ellen Percy, Frey, Frank, Scull, Peter, Parrish, Lesley*, Pons, Alexandra*
Reconstructing the Pre-European Settlement Forest Composition of Central New York State from Ranked Timber Observations
Scull, P. and Richardson, J.*
The American Midland Naturalist. 158: 446-460 (2007)
The Impact of Reforestation on Soil Temperature
Michelsen-Correa, S.* and Scull P. Middle States Geographer 38:39-44. (2005)