Human Geography

Human geography is an interdisciplinary, inclusive, and exciting field: just about every aspect of human activity can be analyzed and understood from a spatial perspective! Human geographers study topics as diverse as immigration, food, children, sustainability, water, social movements, urban gentrification, racism, health, poverty, conflict, and many others. They do so using a variety of methods, including GIS, qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Human geography faculty members at SDSU teach a wide range of courses and are involved in a number of research projects that highlight the ways in which human societies create and transform their social and physical environments. Many of us specialize in urban geography and are fascinated by the diversity of urban experiences. We are also concerned with spatial inequality within cities and its consequences on low-income people, racial and ethnic minorities, women, children and the elderly.

Social and cultural geographers study how different people relate to places such as neighborhoods, public spaces, and homes and how that impacts their identity, everyday life, and wellbeing. They also explore how people organize and actively struggle to define, claim, and transform places.

Environmental geographers at SDSU explore how people interact with the natural environment and examine community-based institutions and systems for managing natural resources and promoting sustainability.

Human geography relates to global studies and many of our human geography faculty members are also area specialists, focusing their attention and their research on a specific region such as Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and California.


Child in a field

Geographies of Children, Young People, and Families

We study the places and spaces of children and young people’s lives, emphasizing their agency in their families and communities.

Dense City

Geographies of Cities

Our research focuses on the political, economic, social, and cultural organization of cities and the diversity of urban experiences. We are particularly interested in urban change, including gentrification, and the role of cities and urban spaces in promoting social in/exclusion.

Food stand

Geographies of Food

We explore the relationship between food and place. For example, we study how food cultures and practices influence place identities, local economies, and environmental sustainability. We also investigate how diverse food environments enable particular food practices, including healthy eating, gardening, and urban agriculture.

Street Peddlers


We are interested in understanding how place, race and gender influences people's livelihoods, including those of socially and spatially marginalized groups in different parts of the world. We study the economic activities of new immigrants and refugees, indigenous people, ethnic minorities, women, and children. Our work focuses on informal economic activity and child labor.

Video editing

Media Geographies

Explores spatial questions about material production, cultural meaning, and bodily affects and perceptions in relation to all forms of media, including film, TV, social media, video-games, radio, music, and theater.

Open border gate

Migration and Borders

We examine the factors leading to international migration and the experiences of migrants around the world. San Diego, which is located on the Mexico-US border and is home to a large immigrant, migrant and refugee community, provides a fascinating setting to investigate these issues and engage in participatory research exploring the significance of borders and mobility.

Vegetable Garden

Political Ecology

We study the relationship between people and their environment through the critical lens of political ecology. This approach focuses on the political and economic factors influencing how humans relate to nature and transform it.

Wall art of Che Guevera

Political Geography and Social Movements

Several faculty members conduct research on the relationship between geography and politics, including questions related to social movements, state restructuring, neoliberal governance, and civil society. We are particularly interested in these topics as they relate to the organization of cities and urban life.