DENTON (UNT), Texas — The Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of North Texas has received the inaugural Award for Masters Program Excellence by the American Association of Geographers, one of the largest organizations promoting the understanding, study and importance of geography and related fields.
The association created two awards to honor geography departments and programs that do not offer doctoral degrees—one for programs that offer degrees no higher than undergraduate degrees, and one for programs that offer master's degrees in addition to undergraduate degrees. Geography departments and programs must be nominated for the awards by their regional division of the association.
Award winners are selected for excellence in instruction and student mentorship; successful student placement with employers; advancements in development of curriculum; promotion of diversity, intercultural understanding and participation of under-represented groups; community engagement; and scholarship of faculty members, among other criteria. Representatives of the Department of Geography and the Environment will receive the award, which includes a certificate and a cash gift, during the organization's annual meeting in April.
"This award is a tribute to the outstanding work of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and various community partners," said Paul Hudak, department chair.
The department's faculty members specialize in interdisciplinary studies of humans' interaction with the environment, conducting research in earth science and modeling, environmental archaeology and geographic information science and remote sensing.
Currently, 129 undergraduate students and 33 master's students are enrolled as majors in the department. Master's students may pursue degree tracks in applied geographic information systems; business geography; health and medical geography; urban environmental management and water resources management, among other areas.
All students may participate in field schools, led by faculty members, in the British Isles, China, Cuba, Ghana, Mexico, Nepal, Spain and the U.S. The department also has one of the largest geography internship programs at a U.S. college or university, with 78 different employers accepting students for internships.
The department's other achievements, recognized by the American Association of Geographers, include:
●Hosting the annual conference of the Southwest American Association of Geographers this past October. The department also hosted three national and international conferences in geography fields during the past 10 years.
●Ranking in the top third of all geography departments in total grants and awards received by faculty and books published by faculty. Most recently, Alexandra Ponette-González, an assistant professor, received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the most prestigious award offered by the NSF for young investigators.
●Organizing a colloquium series to bring visiting scholars to the UNT campus and helping to develop a new lecture series with UNT's College of Arts and Sciences in fall 2016 that had a geography faculty member as the first speaker.
About the American Association of Geographers
Founded in 1904, the American Association of Geographers is a nonprofit scientific and educational society aimed at advancing the understandings, study and importance of geography and related fields. The association has more than 10,000 members, who are geographers and related professionals working in private, public and academic sectors.