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Advising for Incoming Freshmen

Two birds on a branch

Welcome to GEP!

During your first year or two at SSU, the Advising Office will provide most of the advising services you need. That team runs the freshman orientation program, and they will help you develop your class schedules during your first several semesters here. As a GEP major, your main contact person on that Advising team is: Ryan Walsh at the Advising Center.

The GEP Department is here to support you as well. We can assist you in finding the right classes to ensure that you progress through the major as efficiently as possible. And, we try to provide you with opportunities to meet fellow GEP majors and develop a community here. In that spirit, here are answers to some questions that you may have:

FAQs for Freshmen

Your GEP major advisor is one of the department's faculty members. Your advisor's name appears in your MySSU Student Center.

If no GEP advisor is listed, please contact the: Department Chair

Yes, there are several classes that you can take to get started with the major and simultaneously meet GE requirements.

One option is to enroll in the First-Year Learning Course (FLC) GEP 150a/b. That is a year-long class that extends across the Fall (150a) and Spring (150b) semesters. With that class, you will complete a foundational requirement in the GEP major. And, you will complete two GE Areas: A3-Critical Thinking and C1-Arts. As well, the course includes a transition curriculum that will help you acclimate to academic and student life at SSU.

GEP 150a/b -Global Societies through Film

Students apply tools within human geography and film studies to analyze how people navigate economic, political, cultural, and environmental processes that span across local to global scales. Students examine the common challenges and the unique adversities that people face around the world as they manage their lives within those processes. Students also consider how film production itself is a culturally embedded and globally diverse medium for telling those stories.

Another option is to take GEP 110. That single-semester class meets GE Area A1-Oral Communication Note, however, that while it covers environmental issues, it does not meet any GEP Major requirements.

GEP 110 - Communication of Environmental Issues

Students learn how to communicate information about environmental issues through audio-visual presentations. Students strengthen their skills in researching, designing and delivering effective objective and positioned presentations – as individuals and as groups. They develop those skills in the context of exploring environmental issues such as climate change, deforestation, agribusiness, urban environments and environmental injustice.

We also recommend that you take GEP 201 your freshman year. That class meets both a GEP major foundational requirement, and it meets GE Area B1 Phycial Science.

GEP 201: Global Environmental Systems

This course presents a broad survey of how the earth works. It focuses on the processes within, and the relationships between, the four global sub-systems: the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. The course examines how physical, chemical, and biological functions create local, regional, and global climate and landscape patterns. It also explores the links between human activities and changes in climate, vegetation patterns, and landform processes.

GEP 201 pairs with GEP 201b, which is a lab class that meets GE Area B3 Laboratory Activity

GEP 201B: Global Environmental Systems Lab

Introduction to physical earth processes through laboratory and field exercises.  Lab includes observations, hands-on experiments, data collection and practical exercises involving weather, climate, soils, running water, landforms, and vegetation. Includes map fundamentals and interpretation.

For a complete list of GEP courses that also meet GE requirements, view our FAQs about GE


To fulfill GE Area B4 – Quantitative Reasoning, we have different recommendations for different pathways through the GEP major. 

Degree PlanMath Recommendation

BS (all foci)

BA with a focus in

  • Environmental Systems
  • Energy Management & Design
  • Geospatial Analysis

MATH 161 Differential or Integral Calculus


ECON 217 Statistics for Economics & Business

BA with a focus in

  • Society, Environment & Development
  • Urban Studies & Planning

MATH 165 Elementary Statistics


ECON 217 Statistics for Economics & Business

To fulfill GE Area B2 – Life Sciences, we recommend

Biological Diversity and Ecology (BIOL 131)

You can see from the answers above that you have many options as you build your class schedule.

Nevertheless, just to give you an idea, your schedule might look something like:

Fall SemesterGEUnits

GEP 150A: Global Societies through Film

GEP 201: Global Environmental Systems

ENGL 101: Expository Writing and Analytical Reading

MATH 165: Elementary Statistics

KIN 101: Activity class (e.g. yoga, tennis, rock climbing etc)











Spring Semester  

GEP 150B: Global Societies through Film

GEP 110: Communication of Environmental Issues

BIO 131: Biological Diversity and Ecology

PHIL 273: Critical and Creative Reading of Philosophical Lit

NAMS 200: Introduction to Native Americans











During freshman orientation, you will learn how to register for classes on Seawolf Scheduler and you will enroll in your Fall courses.

For a refresher, we provide a number of videos here: SSU How To Videos

If you took AP Human Geography 

A score of 3 or higher will transfer as GEP 203 Human Geography. That will satisfy the GEP Foundational Requirement: Society, Environment & Development

If you took AP Environmental Science 

A score of 3 or higher will meet the GE B1 – Physical Science requirement, but it will not replace GEP 201: Global Environmental Systems, which is a required course for the major.

To review other possible course equivalents, review that information here: AP Course Equivalents

We recommend that you:

1) Enroll in GEP classes designed for freshmen (e.g. GEP 150A/B; GEP 110; GEP 201), as discussed above

2) Connect to the GEP/GLBL Student Club through Instagram and participate in its events and activities. Go here: Student Club

Geography is an academic discipline that was developed back in the 1800’s to examine the relationship between humans and the environment. While many disciplines fall within either the physical or social sciences, Geography bridges both.

Many issues that Geographers address (and many methods of inquiry that they apply), are typically associated with the natural and physical sciences, such as conservation biology and geomorphology. But, Geographers also pursue questions and apply methods that align with the social sciences, such as environmental policy and planning. Geographers integrate those two very different, broad realms of inquiry.

Ultimately, the discipline of geography is a strong position to address environmental problems and promote environmental sustainability because the root of most environmental problems lies in the interaction between complex human systems and equally complex environmental systems.

Most students are more familiar with the term environmental studies or environmental science. In the US, these fields (and undergraduate degrees) developed in the 1960s, as public awareness and concern for the environment grew. While not academic disciplines, per se, these fields address many of the same concerns as geography. They are often designed as interdisciplinary majors, incorporating classes that are housed within the disciplines of geography, biology, geology and others.

We at SSU are committed to solving human/environment problems and helping to advance the discipline of Geography. But, we also understand that much of the global community is unfamiliar with the term ‘geography.’ So, we have adopted the more familiar terms ‘environmental studies’ and ‘environmental science’ for our degree names, and we have integrated several different labels into our Department name that capture the spirit of what we represent.

In several GEP courses, students are trained to use powerful analytical software programs that are commonly used in job settings and for scientific research. Those softwares will be available in our specialized computer labs. Your personal computer will not have to handle these programs.