Congratulations, Award and Scholarship Recipients!


To learn more about these awards and scholarships and to view past recipients, visit Scholarships.

Alumni Spotlight: Kai Kelley Jr. ('19)

kelley_0.pngHello! My name is Kai Kelley Jr., and I successfully graduated in May 2019, earning a B.S. degree in Geography, a B.S. degree in Community & Regional Planning, and a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

During undergrad, my involvement on campus explored the necessity of community outreach and engagement. Upon graduation from Appalachian, I was appointed to serve as Commissioner on the Durham City-County Appearance Commission and worked as an ENGAGEDurham Outreach Team Member for my hometown’s Comprehensive Plan. I continue to serve in local government while pursuing my graduate degree at NC State. Currently, I work in Student Affairs at Duke University, where I received the Duke Presidential Award and work to support career development programming. I look forward to what the future holds and am excited to keep my fellow peers, alumni, and mentors in the department up to date! Go 'Neers!

Why Major in Geography and Planning?

About Us

Geography and Planning New LogoYou want to understand the world.

Why not start with a river, a city, a mountain, a road, and follow it to the ends of the earth? Geography & Planning asks the big questions and enables you to answer them with advanced technology and knowledge about the world you live in.

The Department of Geography & Planning at Appalachian State equips students with the conceptual knowledge and analytical skills to study the physical and human patterns and processes across Earth. Learn more about our mission here.

What is Geography?

Geography is the science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment. As the study of the earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments, it is, quite simply, about the world in which we live.

Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences (human geography) with the natural sciences (physical geography).

Because thinking about space and place give a variety of topics such as economics, health, climate, plants and animals, geography is highly interdisciplinary. It is also a very appropriate perspective to consider complex issues such as sustainable development, that involve economic, social, and environmental dimensions at the same time.

Geographers use many tools and techniques to learn about our world.

Geographic technologies are increasingly some of the most important emerging fields for understanding our complex world. They include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), online mapping such as Google Earth, and others.

Tools such as GIS allow us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared. It also helps us to make intelligent and informed decisions about the way we live on our planet.

Source: AAG "Geographic Learning"

What is Planning?

Planning, also called urban planning or city and regional planning, is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations.

Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives.

Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps communities to envision their future. It helps them find the right balance of new development and essential services, environmental protection, and innovative change.

Planners help create a broad vision for the community.

They also research, design, and develop programs; lead public processes; effect social change; perform technical analyses; manage; and educate. Some planners focus on just some of these roles, such as transportation planning, but most will work at many kinds of planning throughout their careers.

The basic element is the creation of a plan. Planners develop a plan through analysis of data and identification of goals for the community or the project. Planners help the community and its various groups identify their goals and form a particular vision.

Source: APA "What is Planning?"