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Human Geography / Political Ecology

Human Geography is a branch of geography that studies human activities and the processes that shape their location in space, interactions between human beings and their environment, and the nature of places. 

Human geography is divided into many sub-fields, such as historical, urban, economic, cultural, social, and political geography.  These subfields can be further divided into topical or regional specializations, such as North American cities or economic development in Latin America.

While the human geography faculty at the University of Delaware conduct research in a number of distinct areas, human-environmental relations, political ecology and an interest in fieldwork at home and abroad link their research.

Afton Clarke Sather (political, economic and resource geography) looks at the geographic and policy dimensions of development in western China, especially as they are related to water resources and climate change.

Paul Jackson  (urban, historical and cultural geography) examines the political ecology of health, with an interest in the historical relationships between health and urbanization in the North American context.

Lindsay Naylor (food and agriculture; critical and feminist geopolitics; economic development; Latin America) examines power relations in food and agricultural systems with a focus on how to improve the equity and sustainability of such systems.

April Veness (social, emotional and place geography) looks at Guatemalan immigration to Delaware and its impact on migrant and host communities as well as the how marginalized populations create home-places for themselves.

Research in Human Geography may follow any number of philosophical perspectives and methodologies, and is conducted at different scales of analysis. Geographic inquiry can follow perspectives and theories common to Humanist, Critical, Political Ecologist, Positivist or Feminist scholars. It can employ a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, such as discourse analysis, interviews, surveys, geovisualization and mapping, and statistical analysis. It may also look at questions relevant at the global, regional, state, community and individual scale. 

Recent research projects conducted by our human geography faculty and their students include:
- The “We are One Georgetown” community-building project, a collaboration between students in Dr. April Veness’ Global at Home course and the Georgetown, Delaware community.

- ‘A Window to Better Money:’ perspectives on fair trade production and diverse economies from rebel Chiapas (Dr. Lindsay Naylor)

- Food sovereignty tours and knowledge exchange: dialogic opportunities for mobilization and food system change (Dr. Lindsay Naylor)

- Investigating how emerging health discourse and practice are bringing ideas of wilderness into the body (Graduate Student Chelsea Leiper, advisor Dr. Paul Jackson)

- A New Development Technology - This study will analyze the usage of biometric technologies in multiple-sites and at different scales in order to understand the interconnected links between geopolitics, security and economic development in South Asia. (Dr. Paul Jackson)

- The Needs of the “Other” Global Health - Despite recent developments of the Affordable Care Act, essential healthcare services still fall on a wide variety of community clinics, non-profits, street health, and non-governmental organizations. How can we understand the ‘schizophrenic’ situation where the United States is both known for being a major player in global health and at the same time known for massive health inequality? (Dr. Paul Jackson)

Two completed master’s theses include:

- Perceptions and experiences of public space in Georgetown, Delaware. Thesis title “That Street’s for Them Not Us” (graduate student Hannah Jacobson, thesis advisor Dr. April Veness).

- Processes shaping annexation activities at the national, state and community level.  Thesis title “The Effect of State and Municipal Statutes on the Annexation Process with a Focus on Annexation Activities in Delaware (graduate student Eric Pugliano, thesis advisor Dr. April Veness)

The department offers educational programs for students with interests in human geography that range from our undergraduate geography BA, Geography MA program and a new Geography PhD.  You can find additional information about each program under the “Academics” on the main menu bar or contact the Department of Geography Chair Dr. Delphis Levia at or 302-831-3218.

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CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-2841
Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail:

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