Department of Geography and the Environment

Space, Place and Social Worlds

The Space, Place and Social Worlds cluster seeks to understand how socio-cultural and political-economic processes like urbanization, industrialization, poverty, health, migration, media interacts with  space to produce diverse socio-spatial realities across scales like, cities, regions, nations and the global.   Topics of concentration within the department include mobility, representation, production/consumption, globalization, inequality and development.
  • The study of mobility addresses movements of people at all scales from transnational migration and tourism to routine vehicular and pedestrian movements within the city.
  • The study of representation focuses on film, television, print media and the Internet as sources of worldviews and place images, as well as contexts for social interaction.
  • The study of production and consumption includes a range of spaces and places, embodied labor forces, and products ranging from flowers to textiles which are produced for a global market.
  • The study of globalization, inequality and development examines economic, social, cultural, political and environmental processes that operate at multiple scales to (re)produce asymmetries such as poverty, health disparities, ethnic/racial discrimination, gender inequity, political exclusion, identity violation, spatial segregation and other forms of marginalization in a globalizing world.

All four areas of concentration frame empirically grounded, theoretically innovative scholarship, while contributing to social justice and sustainable alternatives. All four areas also grow out of a more general interest in flows and the associated patterns--both of which are thoroughly social in character, yet composed of human and non-human elements.
Researchers in this cluster are interested in how flows not only create but also reflect patterns of difference in wealth, knowledge, culture, and communication and transportation infrastructure. Research settings bridge the divide between physical places (in the US, borderlands, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and India) and virtual places (Internet forums, social networks, television and movie sets), while addressing multiple scales (global, national, regional, urban, community, household and individual). This cluster complements the other two departmental clusters: Environmental Changes and Surface Processes, and Digital Landscapes.