Indiana University Bloomington

About Us

Our Mission

The mission of the Department of Geography at Indiana University is to be a national and international center of excellence in research and instruction within key subfields of geography. The key subfields are Climate and Environmental Change, geographic information science (GIS), human-environment interaction, and human geography. In climatology, specific fields of research include biosphere-atmosphere interaction, the carbon cycle, climate change, dendrochronology, and statistical climatology. In GIS, particular emphasis is placed on remote sensing, statistical and numerical modeling, and the application of GIS to conservation, health, and telecommunications. Within the human-environment theme, the emphasis is on land-change science, cultural and political ecology, and sustainable development. In human geography, we focus on economic geography, regional development, globalization, tourism, and landscape.

Missing from this account of our past is a roll call of our many successful students - especially the most recent cohorts - who have gone on to make themselves notable geographers, notable researchers, leaders in their fields, exceptional teachers, colleagues and friends of Indiana Geography. No matter, they know who they are, and their faculty advisers know too. They are our proudest accomplishment.

Our Past

Although a separate Geography Department was not established at Indiana University until the summer of 1946, geography was taught in the Geology Department by Stephen S. Visher beginning in January, 1919. He was assisted by J. Elmer Switzer (appointed 1923) and at various times by W.N. Logan, Wallce Bucley, William D. Thornbyrt, Chauncy Harris, Edward Ullman and Otis Freeman. In 1923, Clifford M Zierer received the first M.A. in geography; five others received M.A. degrees in geography before the Geography Department was separated from geology. Although graduate work in geography was informal and consisted of readings and supervised research, these six M.S.'s have produced significant accomplishments in teaching and research.

The newly established Geography Department took up "temporary" quarters in the attic of Rawles Hall. It was the year of the first G.I. bulge and school started three weeks late. The new chairman, Otis P. Starkey, purchased and renovated an old house to keep some of his enlarged staff, only by providing room space for two instructors until the promised University housing was ready. At first, the Department was primarily a service department for education and business students, but graduate students increasd and by 1951-1952, 20 were in residence. Many of these early graduate students went on to hold important posts in government and education.

In addition, attention should be called to the list of distingushed geographers who were on our staff as regular members or as visiting professors. These include Dir Dudley Stamp, Carl O. Sauer, Robert S. Platt, Estyn Evans, A. Austing Miller, Benjamin Garnier, Ronald Peel, Y. Fu Tuan, Hilgard O'Reilly Steinberg, Robert N. Taaffe, and others, all of whom contributed to the intellectual heritage of our faculty and our graduate and undergraduate students.