Apr 02, 2023  
2022-23 Western Washington University Catalog 
2022-23 Western Washington University Catalog

Geography/Social Studies, BA

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Department of Environmental Studies, College of the Environment

85-91 credits

Introduction/What is the Study of Geography/Social Studies?

Geography/Social Studies at the College of the Environment provides a breadth of knowledge in Geography, Environmental Studies, History, Economics, Anthropology, and Political Science. As a Geography/Social Studies major you will be prepared to explore a wide variety of career paths. These include planning, education, environmental agencies and NGOs, business, tourism, GIS, government service, transportation, and many more. Majors in this degree program are highly encouraged to include a minor in their plan of study such as: Environmental Studies, GIS, Energy Policy, East Asian or Canadian-American Studies, or areas like a foreign language. In addition, it meets Washington State requirements for a teaching endorsement, Geography/Social Studies can also prepare you for teaching in non-traditional settings with or without the additional certification from Woodring College. Students with a degree in Geography/Social Studies can also go on to graduate work in Geography, Education, or Environmental Education.

Why Consider a Geography/Social Studies Major?

If you are interested in any of the above career paths or you want to teach Geography and Social Studies to children in grades 5-12 in a public or private school setting, this major will provide the subject area requirements. Secondary Education students who wish to be endorsed in Social Studies may choose this major. However, the Geography/Social Studies degree does not require that a student pursue a teaching certificate. Geography/Social Studies majors interested in Secondary certification must apply separately to the certification programs, such as those in Woodring College of Education. Students usually apply to Woodring in their senior year or after they graduate.

To receive a recommendation for state of Washington certification, students must complete the teacher certification program, including the content methods course, SEC 426, which is offered by the Department of Secondary Education as 1) a part of the undergraduate BA degree, or 2) as a post-baccalaureate program, or 3) as part of the Master’s in Education degree. See the Secondary Education  section of this catalog for program admission, completion, and teaching certification requirements. Completion of this combined major leads to an endorsement in social studies.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Rebekah Paci-Green
Arntzen Hall 206

Geography Education Advisor
David Rossiter
Arntzen Hall 232

Geography Education Advisor
Patrick Buckley
Arntzen Hall 222

College of the Environment
Professional Advisor

Kathryn Patrick
Environmental Studies 539

Secondary Education Manager
Janna Cecka
Miller Hall 401C

Teacher Education Admission
Miller Hall 150

 Sample Careers

Middle or High School Teacher | Planner | Land-Use Analyst | Eco Tourism Consultant | GIS Technician |Community Organizer | Private School Teacher | NGO leader

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

How to Apply as a Pre-Major

At any time, you can declare yourself as a pre-major with interest in environmental studies by contacting a College of the Environment professional advisor. To become a pre-major, set up an appointment with a professional adviser on our Undergrad Academic Advising website cenv.wwu.edu/academic-advising, by visiting the College of the Environment Student Support office in Environmental Studies Building 539, or by calling 360-650-3520. 

Students are encouraged to apply to be an Environmental Studies pre-major as early as they can, ideally during their freshman or sophomore year. You do not need to complete any Environmental Studies courses before applying as a pre-major.

What happens when students become pre-majors?

Pre-major status will give you access to priority registration for Environmental Studies classes. Once you are declared as a pre-major you are assigned a College of the Environment professional advisor and a faculty advisor based on your academic interests. Your professional advisor can help you understand graduation requirements and how to navigate through your degree curriculum. Your faculty advisor can help you decide which courses to take and give you advice about how to prepare for graduate school or a future career. As a pre-major, your email is added to an email distribution list for College of the Environment majors so you will begin to receive notifications and general announcements. 

How to Apply to the Majors

After completing the Geography/Social Studies, BA Phase I courses, students can apply to move from pre-major status to major status. Phase I courses must be completed with a C- or better before applying to this major. Transfer students coming in with a Direct Transfer Agreement may apply before completing all of the Phase I courses. 

To apply, students should submit an application that includes brief answers (three to four well-formed paragraphs) to the following questions:

  • Which specific Environmental Studies degree are you selecting?
  • What relevant coursework have you completed?
  • What excites you about majoring in Environmental Studies?
  • How will the specific Environmental Studies degree you have chosen help you achieve your post-graduation career goals?
  • OPTIONAL: Are there perspectives or experiences you can bring to strengthen and diversify the field of environmental studies?
  • OPTIONAL: Do you feel that your academic transcript accurately reflects your abilities as a student? Please explain.

The application can be found on the College of the Environment website at cenv.wwu.edu/undergraduate-applications-college-environment. Applications are accepted during fall, winter, and spring quarters and must be received by 5 p.m. on October 6 (for winter quarter admission), January 15 (for spring quarter admission), or April 18 (for summer or fall quarter admission). If the deadline falls on a weekend, applications are due the following Monday.

If you have any questions, please contact a professional advisor at the College of the Environment Student Support office in Environmental Studies Building 539, or by calling 360-650-3520. 

Those interested in information about secondary education programs may request an appointment through Woodring College of Education in Miller Hall 400, 360-650-3327, email ceckaj@wwu.edu

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors. Courses required for a state teaching endorsement must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

Geography (44-48 credits)

This Geography/Social Studies, BA degree requires 60 upper-level credits.

Tools of Geography (6 to 7 credits)

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