The School of Geography and Development (SGD) studies, and prepares students for, a rapidly changing world in which technology, economic and political institutions and activism, and social relations are creating new opportunities and risks.  How can we understand the present patterns of development to plan for better futures? What insights can we find in data trends, in interviews, in participatory processes, in watching social media, or in analyzing institutions and politics that can suggest policies, business opportunities and decisions that guide society to prevent problems and seize opportunities? How does a geographic perspective provide a more complex and critical understanding of possible futures?

SGD has unique skills in studying and shaping future environments and communities, training future citizens and decision makers, and fostering sustainable economic, social and ecological development.  Our course offerings include learning about economic and urban development; population and migration; political systems and actions, environment and technological trends; and the changing geographies of regions and countries including the Southwest US, Mexico, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.  Our faculty write an award-winning textbook on World Regions in Global Context that is used in classrooms across the U.S.  Our research and teaching offers insights into the future of land use, cities, economies, and food systems, and the roles of politics, government, business and civil society in decisions that determine these futures. These insights provide a basis for informed citizens and successful entrepreneurs, resource managers, planners, and other decision makers.

Some of the current research projects and clusters relating to this theme include:

Migration, Refugees, Population Change and Demography (David Plane, Orhon Myadar)

Robotics and the Future of Labor (Vinnie del Casino)

Youth citizenship in divided societies (Lynn Staeheli)

Cultural politics of cities (Sapana Doshi, Stefano Bloch, Lynn Staeheli)

Financial geographies of debt (Mark Kear)

Media geographies (Chris Lukinbeal)

Our ability to create an exciting and relevant program in Future Geographies depends on investments that would allow us to:

  • Support students through fellowships, internships, and prizes that encourage forward looking study of futures
  • Create a center for Future Geographies with projects that could include studying the future of cities, food, ecosystems, health and culture.
  • Create a lecture series focused on the future of our region and the world (collaborating with colleagues across the university and the community) supported by a visiting scholar program