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College Catalog

Geography and Earth Science


  • GEO 1500

    Human Geography: An Introduction (SOC)

    An examination of the evolution of concepts concerning the nature, scope, and methods of Human Geography (population, economic, urban, landscape, etc.) with emphasis on current geographic thought, theory, research themes, and the relationship between people and the environment.
    Alternate Springs

  • GEO 1600

    Earth Revealed (NLAB)

    Earth Revealed examines the earth's lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, studying the spatial patterns of phenomena at a variety of scales. The course is taught in a studio classroom setting, with lecture/discussion and computer-based analysis of satellite imagery. Environmental issues and sustainability are an integral part of the class.

  • GEO 1610

    Introduction to Geographic Information Science: Mapping Your World (NLAB)

    This course provides an introduction to portraying spatial data and making data maps for a variety of applications. Students work in a hands-on lab/lecture setting while exploring computer mapping production techniques: cartographic design, communication properties of thematic maps, data selection and quality, and the problems of graphic display in print and electronic formats. Students will apply the course material by completing a variety of mapping projects. Students need no specialized computer skills to enter the course, but they will be expected to manipulate data and maps using the computer methods discussed in class.

  • GEO 1700

    Natural Disasters (NLAB)

    A geographic examination of the causes and human consequences of natural disasters, such as floods, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and drought. Emphasis is placed on understanding the role that human perception plays in determining the steps that society takes to reduce natural hazard risks and disaster losses.

  • GEO 1800

    Great Lakes Basin (NLAB)

    The Great Lakes hold approximately 20 percent of all surface freshwater on Earth. This large basin gives rise to important spatial variations in hydrology, climatology, glacial history, and biogeography. This class explores these spatial patterns by examining the physical processes that form them. From floods, droughts, and changing lake levels, to rocks that are nearly as old as Earth itself and a variety of forests and prairie grasslands, the Great Lakes offer a wealth of physical geography processes to explore.

  • GEO 1900

    Geology of National Parks (NLAB)

    Geology of National Parks highlights geological features in U.S. National Parks formed by igneous activity, mountain building and uplift, glaciation, weathering and erosion, wave action, and groundwater as well as human impacts on sustaining national parks. Organized based on key tectonic processes, the course is taught in a studio classroom setting with lecture/discussion, group projects, and computer-based analysis.

  • GEO 2450

    Biogeography (NLAB)

    Biogeography investigates spatial patterns in the biosphere to show how Earth history, evolutionary and ecological processes, and contemporary environments have shaped patterns of biodiversity. Using a studio classroom setting, biogeography studies spatial distributions of organisms and the factors influencing those distributions, examining the interactions of the physical environment and sustainability of biological organisms through time.

  • GEO 2550

    Meteorology (NLAB)

    A study of meteorology and weather through the analysis of atmospheric processes and the composition of the atmosphere. Emphasis is placed on dynamic meteorology through understanding the processes responsible for weather, climate change, and related environmental issues.

  • GEO 2610

    Advanced Geographic Information Science and Analytical Cartography (NLAB)

    This course explores advanced problems and techniques in both raster and vector systems. Topics include scientific visualization of problems, layer overlays, distance measurement and transformation, data management, creation and analysis of statistical surfaces, geographic pattern analysis, and data quality. Students will apply the course material by performing a variety of analyses on different types of geographic data.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1610 or consent of the instructor

  • GEO 2700

    Satellite Image and Air Photo Analysis (NLAB)

    This course will focus on the use, analysis, and interpretation of aerial photographs and imagery from satellites to evaluate the environment (vegetation, climate, hydrology, etc.) and land-use analysis (urbanization, agriculture, forestry, etc.). Students will be introduced to various methods for obtaining and interpreting this type of data. The class will also discuss various types of data and formats available. Students need no specialized computer skills to enter the course, but they will be expected to manipulate and interpret imagery using the computer methods discussed in class.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1610

  • GEO 2800

    Geography of East Asia (SOC)

    This course provides students with broad exposure to what the "place" East Asia is from physical, cultural, economic, and political perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on dimensions of human geography and human-environment interaction within the specific regional contexts.

  • GEO 2810

    Geography and Biology of China (NLAB)

    Throughout China's history, the relationship between humans and the native plant and animal communities has fueled the growth of civilizations and created new ecological challenges. This course aims to present students with geographical and biological perspectives to help them understand how the Chinese people have been interacting with their environment through time and across a vast country.

  • GEO 3200

    Hydrology (LAB SCI)

    An introduction to the physical characteristics of surface and subsurface waters and the hydrologic cycle, detailing its various components. Emphasis is placed on the nature of water movement, the interrelations of surface and groundwater systems, and modeling various aspects of the hydrologic cycle. Water is viewed as a natural resource and questions of sustainability are addressed.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1600 or consent of instructor

  • GEO 3300

    Analytical Techniques in Geospatial Science (NLAB)

    Analytical Techniques emphasizes problem analysis in applied geospatial science through developing research topics, thesis statements, hypotheses, literature reviews, and methodologies including geographic information science and quantitative methods in geography. As part of the course. students will identify their Senior Thesis topic, construct the thesis statement, and complete the literature review and methodology sections of the thesis.
    Prerequisites: Junior standing and a GEO major

  • GEO 3400

    Forest Ecology

    Forest Ecology explores the development of sustainable forest communities incorporating climate, topography, geomorphology, hydrology, soils, and human land-use history. The course is taught in a studio classroom setting, with lectures, discussions, group debates, use of dendrochronology lab, and field trips to examine the composition, structure, and function of forest ecosystems.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1600 or consent of instructor

  • GEO 3700

    Climatology (LAB SCI)

    An overview of atmospheric processes and climatic elements, followed by a more detailed examination of the spatial distribution of climates. Particular emphasis will be placed upon macroscale climates of the global continents and climate change, culminating with microscale applications of the principles and concepts within the local area.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1600 or consent of instructor

  • GEO 3800

    Soil Science (LAB SCI)

    Soil Science examines soils as both natural bodies and managed resources, integrating the properties of soil with human alterations of soils worldwide. The course is taught in a studio classroom setting, with computer and field labs to explore the formation, classification, biodiversity, and management of soils for agricultural purposes, and for the foundation of sustainable ecosystem development.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1600 or consent of instructor

  • GEO 3900

    Methods of Field Research

    Methods of Field Research focuses on outdoor sampling design and spatial analyses of field data in geosciences. Combining outdoor fieldwork with computer data processing, this course generates questions that can be answered with field data, explores project planning to focus field effort, teaches methods and techniques of data collection, and analyzes spatial samples.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1600 or ENV 1600 or consent of instructor

  • GEO 3950

    Process Geomorphology (NLAB)

    Using a studio classroom setting with lecture, computer simulations, and fieldwork, this course is a systematic analysis of the physical and spatial characteristics of Earth's terrain. The emphasis is on the identification of the formative processes in geomorphology.
    Prerequisite: GEO 1600 or consent of the instructor

  • GEO 4000

    Senior Seminar in Geospatial Science

    This course presents an overview of the history of geoscience and geospatial thought. The material emphasizes problem analysis in applied geospatial science through the application of multiple working hypotheses within the framework of inductive and deductive logic.
    Students will be completing the data analysis and results sections of their Senior Thesis in this course.
    Prerequisite: GEO 3300

  • GEO 4150

    The Science of Global Climate Change (NLAB)

    This course is designed to provide an understanding of the science of planetary climates for students with a background in physics and/or geography. Emphasis will be placed on the physical processes that control the state of Earth's climate, which include the roles of energy and moisture, atmospheric circulation, and atmosphere-ocean interaction.
    Prerequisite: GEO 3700 or PHY 2200 or consent of the instructor

  • GEO 4500

    Independent Study in Geospatial Science

    A student can conduct an independent study in a topic of interest in Geospatial Science. It is understood that this course will not duplicate any other course regularly offered in the curriculum, and that the student will work in this course as independently as the instructor believes possible.
    Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • GEO 4600

    Applied Projects in Geographic Information Science

    This course explores the problems inherent in setting up and managing GIS. Students will be expected to create a significant GIS application using available data to address an actual geospatial problem. Other topics include GIS and organizations, social and ethical implications of GIS, and management of a GIS.
    Prerequisite: GEO 2610 or consent of the instructor

  • GEO 4900

    Geospatial Science Research

    Work on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may enroll for credit more than once, but only 4 credits can count toward the major.
    Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • GEO 4990

    Senior Thesis Completion

    Students should register for GEO 4990 during the semester that they plan to complete their Senior Thesis.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2019), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has been named a top producer of Fulbright Fellows three years running: 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $1.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …