An Assessment of Combined Academic Geology and Geography Departments Based on a Survey of Department Chairs

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Geoscience Education


This study examines combined departments of geology and geography, a structure present at numerous four-year institutions, through a survey of department chairs and heads. We explore the reasons behind the combined department, the advantages, challenges, and disadvantages of the structure, and steps taken by chairs to promote the success of their multidisciplinary unit. Key advantages related to the structure include curricular cooperation, resource-sharing, and budgetary benefits. However, chairs also report disadvantages such as difficulty in achieving an equitable distribution of resources and the potential for fractionation of faculty along discipline lines. They focus on management style and curricular change as strategies to address perceived challenges and disadvantages. In the majority of cases, chairs provide generally favorable evaluations of their combined departments. In light of the apparent vulnerability of academic geology and geography programs, the structure may provide an option worth considering in selected stand-alone departments that seek alternatives to cut-backs or elimination.