Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Geography Department at the University of Central Arkansas!

The study of Geography is one of spatial relationships. Geographers begin with the questions of “What?” and “Where?” but do not stop at simple identification. We go further, asking “Why?” to better understand the relationships between seemingly disparate elements of our physical and cultural surroundings. Long ago, geographers made and maintained the records of discovery, cataloging new experiences and unique features as they were reported. Though journeys of exploration have largely ended (on terrestrial Earth, at least), interactions between place and process remain vibrant and ever-changing; as Harm de Blij once wrote “the Age of Discovery may be over, … the era of geographic discovery never will be.”¹

The Geography Department at UCA is well-suited for students interested in those modern journeys of discovery. All Geography majors gain a broad base of knowledge that spans physical and cultural features and processes, cartographic techniques, and spatial research methodologies. Geography-Geospatial Concentration majors focus on more in-depth training in the use and application of remote sensing, Global Positioning System, and Geographic Information System programs. Through the Environmental Science-Planning & Administration track, students develop an appreciation for both scientific understanding of environmental issues as well as the practical and logistical hurdles encountered in translating scientific findings to policy administrators or the general public.

Our faculty pursue diverse areas of research, including: water quality and conservation, patterns of wildfire ecology, impacts of transportation systems on regional economies, recreation landscape histories, sports geographies, and analysis of tornadic storm development. Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led research projects or develop their own line of inquiry. Recent or ongoing projects involving or led by students include an analysis of Safe Routes to School infrastructure in Conway, an evaluation of urban planning policies on residential growth, mapping of historical locations of dairy operations in Faulkner County, and study of the impacts of recreational mountain bike trail use on water quality in a central Arkansas watershed.

If you are interested in learning more about Geography and the opportunities offered by the department at UCA, please feel free to contact us. If your time allows, we encourage you to stop by our offices in Burdick 318 to speak with our faculty in person and see what discoveries await you in Geography.


Dr. Stephen O’Connell (
Burdick 318
Phone: 501-450-5636
FAX: 501-852-2926

1 – de Blij, H. 2005. Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 9