Welcome and thank you for your interest in our programs and our department. In January 2014, after almost 40 years of Geography programming at UFV (formerly Fraser Valley College and later University College of the Fraser Valley), the department added "Environment" to its name. This change--creating the UFV Department of Geography and the Environment--was done to reflect the central role that the study of the environment plays in our program. Most of our courses deal directly with the study, science, and management of the natural environment and its resources, or in the study of the built environment and its impact on natural and human landscapes. Our faculty's research is diverse, yet also shares the connective element of considering environmental change, be it the impact of changing climates on food cultures or on how to plan informal settlements in east Africa, to how we model long-term climate change or how we manage and understand our cultural, political, and economic relationships with natural resource industries.
Now is an exciting time for geographers, as geography represents both a traditional and a cutting-edge approach to addressing many of these and other problems faced by our local, regional, national, and international communities. Just as the earliest geographers were concerned with understanding space and territory, and in exploring and mapping their own regions and foreign lands, geographers today use a spatial lens and spatial techniques to understand and tackle questions both familiar and new. These challenges are more pressing than at any point historically: the problems of poverty and uneven development, the science and risks associated with changing climate and diminished resources, and the need to cultivate an ethic and duty of environmental and global citizenship. Doing this requires thinking outside of single disciplines to harness the scientific and the social, the creative and the theoretical, to address the interplay between people, place, and the environment.
To achieve these goals, our faculty and staff strive to create a vibrant undergraduate program that builds on a solid foundation of fieldwork, student research, and interdisciplinary engagement. As a program, we are both Arts and Sciences, and offer both a BA and a BSc, as well as certificates in GIS and Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights, and Land Claims. Our faculty come from many different walks of academic 'life'. Our department's roster includes 11 full-time faculty, 2 half-time faculty, 5 adjuncts, several sessional faculty, and our department assistant. Among our full-time, adjunct, and sessional faculty are individuals with undergraduate or graduate degrees in physics, geology, biology, planning, urban studies, political science, soil and agricultural sciences, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering, and, yes, geography!
UFV Geography and the Environment's small class sizes mean that almost all of our courses involve some element of field study, and our majors require completion of field study or internship courses in Canada or abroad. At the same time, our faculty members are actively engaged in community, applied, and peer-reviewed research at the local, regional and international level. The department is home to two research laboratories: the UFV Paleoecology Lab and the UFV NSERC-supported Luminsencence Dating Lab, the latter the only one of its kind in western Canada. Department faculty have also teamed up with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute as part of the World Rivers Project, and with NASA's Pavilion and Kelly Lakes research project, and other faculty are engaged in dialogue with university partners in India and Tanzania.
These labs and projects provide undergraduate and graduate students with exciting opportunities for research, service, community outreach, and career and graduate school preparation. If you are a student with questions about what types of careers are available for geography graduates, please visit our Careers in Geography page.
We hope you take the time to browse the information on our website, and to reach out to any of one us if you have questions about our programs, research, events, or facilities.
Michelle Rhodes, PhD, Department Head
Geography and the Environment