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About Us

The program of geography offers a wide variety of courses leading to the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in geography:

  • to support the goals of a broad liberal education by increasing awareness of the spatial, regional, and environmental aspects of the earth and its peoples.
  • to provide a specialized knowledge of environmental processes, human-environment relations, American and foreign areas and cultures, and geographic techniques such as spatial modeling, geovisualization, cartography, remote sensing and geographic information analysis.


1902. The first geography course was taught by George Condra.

1905. Economic Geology and Geography was recognized as a division within the Department of Geology.

1906. Graduate credit in geography was given.

1908. Two M.A. degrees in geography were awarded (one was authored by Nels Bengtson).

1909. The Department of Geography and Economic Geology was established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an autonomous division of the Department of Geology, thus creating a department ranking ―second only to the University of Chicago in the Middle West in the length of time graduate work in geography has been given (Hewes, 1983).

The first Ph.D. in geography at the University of Nebraska was granted to Joseph Allen Warren, whose dissertation was entitled An Agricultural Survey of Nebraska. 

1912. The academic emphasis was modified when economic geology was reassigned and Conservation was added. The departmental title became Department of Geography and Conservation.

1918. When George Condra became director of a newly-formed Division of State Conservation and Soil Survey, geography was again merged with geology as the Department of Geology and Geography.

1928. A distinct Department of Geography was established. George Condra pioneered geography at the University of Nebraska, but Nels Bengtson was a true ‘apostle’ for geography in the central Plains area and created the department at Nebraska and was the first chair.

1946. Professor Leslie Hewes became chair. His tenure lasted until he retired from that position in 1968. Following the 60 years of leadership by only two geographers (Bengtson and Hewes), the administrative responsibility for geography was assumed by approximately a dozen professors during the next four decades.

2001. The Departments of Geography and Anthropology were merged by the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

2008. Geographers separated from that combined department to form the faculty of Geography and Geographic Information Science within the School of Natural Resources.

2017. Geography returns to the College of Arts and Sciences.

Adapted from “A Century of Geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln” by Robert Stoddard

REFERENCES. Hewes, Leslie. 1983. Geography at the University of Nebraska, Great Plains-Rocky Mountain Geographical Journal, vol.11, pp.10-18. Van Royen, William. 1968. Nels August Bengtson (1879- 1963), Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol.58, pp.601-605.

Related university areas

  • Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT)
  • Center for Great Plains Studies (CGPS)
  • High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC)
  • National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)
  • Conservation and Survey Division (CSD)
  • Nebraska State Climate Office (NSCO)
  • Rural Futures Institute
  • Water for Food