Return to campus — information and updates »

School of Land Use and Environmental Change

Department history

The University of the Fraser Valley has been offering courses in geography since its first year of operation, in 1974. Back then, geography courses were taught by the Bursar of the Fraser Valley College.

The first full-time geography faculty member, Don Tunstall, was hired in 1975, followed by Doug Nicol (1977) and David Gibson (1980). Over time, the Geography department grew to offer a full slate of programming and multiple credentials in human and physical geography and GIS, and the department is today home to a diverse group of faculty.

During the institution's first two decades of operation, first as Fraser Valley College and then as the University College of the Fraser Valley (UCFV), geography was offered primarily for university transfer purposes.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, UCFV students could complete a Geography major as part of a Bachelor of Arts at while taking courses at UFV and receiving their degree from Simon Fraser University (SFU).

UCFV began offering its own Geography majors (independent of SFU) in the late 1990s. The cornerstone of the Geography program was a commitment to student engagement and field study in the Fraser Valley and elsewhere in the Western US and Mexico.

The program's faculty expanded to include specialists in a variety of sub-fields, including geomorphology, planning and urban studies, regional geography, political ecology, climate and water systems, and Aboriginal geographies.

In 2007, the Province of BC redesignated UCFV as the University of the Fraser Valley. In the years before and following university status, the institution continued to build new programs and strengthen faculty and student research commitments. In geography, this included the development of three specialized labs: the Paleoecology lab, the Luminescence dating lab, and the Water research lab.

The Geography program also introduced a new Bachelor of Science, major and minor in Physical Geography, to complement its Bachelor of Arts, major, minor, and extended minor in Geography.

The most recent change occured in 2014, when we became Geography and the Enviroment (GATE). This was done in order to recognize the increasing inclusion of environmental geography curriculum and research produced in the department.

Throughout more than a decade of major institutional and program changes, GATE faculty and staff have remained committed to field study, student engagement, and research-integrated learning opportunities.

If you have any questions about program history, departmental faculty, or the GATE mission and vision statements, please review the relevant sections in this e-handbook or email:

Contact Us