Florida State University


College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Faculty Expertise

FSU geographers conduct research and educate students about the interlinked social and environmental challenges of our changing world. We aim to equip people the knowledge necessary to develop relevant interventions. Common to our work are underlying concerns for sustainability and integrative thinking that combines information from the natural, social, human-environment, and information sciences. We apply a wide array of conceptual perspectives and methodological techniques to address problems of significant societal and environmental importance. Faculty and their students identify with one or more of four thematic clusters:

Urban Flows, Urban GIS, and Urban Remote Sensing
(Johnson, Horner, Mesev, Uejio, Yang, Zhao)

FSU geographers focus on better understanding the processes that shape the growth and development of cities, at scales ranging from the individual to the region. More than half of our department also has an interest in the development of remote sensing and GIScience theories and technologies with respect to the study of the urban environment and its flows. To understand the changing structure of cities, we employ traditional maps and emerging qualitative GIS analytics, as well as digital geospatial technologies and social media that enable new forms of visualization. Themes of accessibility, sustainability, and well-being are explored in recent faculty research on topics such as urban land-use change, environmental health, intra- and inter-metropolitan transportation and communications networks. We are also engaged in broader environmental remote sensing as evidenced by recent local and international work in landscape change, natural hazard assessment, and environmental sustainability.

Critical Geographies of Autonomy and Liberation
(McCreary, Ponder, Gergan, Wong)

The contemporary world is marked by long struggles by oppressed groups against entrenched forms of inequality. The subfield of critical geography analyzes the structures of domination and highlights how historically marginalized groups resist oppression, create spaces of autonomy, and fight for liberation. Our department particularly focuses on the deep and enduring histories of colonialism, environmental racism, ableism, and white supremacy and their effects on the lives of Black, Indigenous, and disabled peoples. We also highlight the struggles of Black, Indigenous, and disabled peoples against the legacies of colonialism, ableism, and chattel slavery. We stress that Black, Indigenous, and disabled peoples retain agency and continue to produce spaces of autonomy, where liberatory desires can be fostered, where the descendants of enslaved and colonized populations can reassert their humanity, and where alternative forms of community relations can be remembered and reimagined.

Climate Change, Risk, and Society
(Elsner, Lester, Pau, Uejio, Zhao, McCreary, Wong)

Climate change is poised to reconfigure relationships between people and the biophysical and built environments on which they depend. Our research addresses the physical processes that underpin climate change, as well as the impacts of climate change on households and communities, public health, local economies and natural habitats. Examples of recent work include quantifying the increasing intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones worldwide, examining the impact of coral bleaching on fishing and tourism, and investigating the effects of extreme heat events on U.S. neighborhoods and households.

Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management
(Lester, Pau, McCreary, Gergan)

The conservation and management of terrestrial and marine species and habitats are increasingly important because of rapid global change. FSU geographers work on understanding the distribution of species, communities, and habitats across space and time, the services they provide, and human impacts on natural systems with the aim of informing policy, management, and conservation priorities. Specific research topics include biogeography and macroecology, ecosystem service provisioning and tradeoffs, conservation planning, spatial management of natural resources, fisheries management, marine protected area, land-use, land-cover change, tropical deforestation, phenology and climate change, and remote sensing of biodiversity.