Roughly 500 students are enrolled in Geography, Environment and Society’s undergraduate majors, taking courses offered by the department’s 25–30 faculty members. The department comprises multiple diverse and emphatically interdisciplinary fields of study, and although the writing students do varies accordingly, it typically involves representing space, place, and geographic networks. Maps, Geographic Information Science, and geovisualization are of course crucial for supporting geographical writing, but so are graphs, photographs, tables, and diagrams. GES students major in Geography, the integrated study of a globalized world bridging humanities, social sciences, and ecological processes; Biology, Society, and Environment (BSE), a major combining training in biology with inquiry into its relevance to social and environmental problems; or Urban Studies, a cross-disciplinary field in which inquiry into contemporary urban and postindustrial society is conducted via traditional coursework and fieldwork experiences.
Geography enrolled in the WEC program in 2008 and received approval for the third edition of its Writing Plan in Fall 2013. To address the varied nature of writing in its majors, the department developed and published a Departmental Writing and Research Guide, intended to clarify expectations and to offer resources for students writing in the many disciplinary subfields. In addition, the department is endeavoring to collect and organize numerous "exemplars," excerpted samples of strong, middling, and weak student writing, for faculty members and TAs to use strategically for timely, efficient in-class writing instruction.