The Department of Geography at Kent State, an R-1 research university, aims to enhance the understanding of complex human-environmental interactions in a rapidly changing world through actionable research and robust learning opportunities that improve human and environmental well-being.

As Geographers, our research takes us to exploring the world.  Our expertise reflects the broad diversity and interdisciplinarity of our field, with focuses on human and physical geography, and their relationship with each other.  We have active research on five continents, and with special focus on the four broad themes we outline below.  We offer baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees and promote interdisciplinary partnerships at Kent State University and in the community to foster research opportunities.  Visit the Community Outreach page to get involved in local programs, and check-out our labs to see what they specialize in and how they fit into our research areas.

Physical Environments

Several faculty members study physical environments in relation to climate change and variability, synoptic climatology, severe weather, precipitation, teleconnections, and hazards and have a strong interest in vegetation dynamics associated with human and natural disturbances.  We emphasize applied climatological studies, examining the impacts of climate and extreme weather on human health, coastal environments, and other natural systems and apply field studies, computer modeling, and satellite sensors to address questions related to transformed ecosystem resilience, resistance, and vulnerability as a result of natural and anthropogenic disturbance.

Urban Environments

Researchers in this area focus on issues of urban sustainability with an interest in how humans interact with and affect their environment.  Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) presents opportunities to collaborate on projects that connect urban design to the physical environment.  We study natural hazards, post-disaster environments, and environmental health.  We have a strong interdisciplinary focus on water resources, and research is conducted across the globe, including work on water access in sub-Saharan Africa, water infrastructure and political ecology in Cambodia, and drought in Syria.  While our research is global, we also recognize that we have an excellent laboratory in our own backyard including the redevelopment of downtown Kent.  Cleveland and Akron are also excellent opportunities to study “Legacy Cities” in the post-industrial economy and our location on the Cuyahoga River and near the Great Lakes provides an excellent setting for studying local water issues.

Social Justice

Kent State faculty have experience researching the status quo of the world’s political and economic systems and how they engender uneven development, violence, environmental abuse, and other concerns.  Our scholarship has included issues of national identity, geopolitical imaginaries, segregation, and diasporas.  We also research the intersection of violence and memory from a geographic perspective and have hosted research conferences including Race, Ethnicity, and Place and the International Society of Landscape, Place, and Material Culture.  Faculty also maintain a connection with the May 4 Visitors Center on campus, which commemorates the May 4, 1970 shootings of peacefully protesting students.

Geospatial Technologies

Research here pertains to the intersection of hazards and health, using various geospatial approaches, including GIS and remote sensing, to work at the scale of intervention.  Our work includes programming, analysis, visualization, and applications connected to natural hazards, urban ecology, and public health.  We actively develop and implement new methods on spatiotemporal-social network analysis/modeling/simulation for different application domains such as crime, economic development, disaster response, land use, migration, public health, sustainable communities, and urban planning as well as work on the analysis of social networks in a more qualitative fashion.