Forgive my ignorance, but what would make one geography department better than another? A map is a map, no?
<p>Geography is about much more than reading maps. It's a pretty dynamic and sophisticated academic discipline, with top geographers doing cutting-edge work on such subspecialties as human geography, biophysical geography (including both contemporary and historical studies on such environmentally relevant topics as land use change, climate dynamics, changes in hydrological systems, and ecosystem dynamics), human-environment interactions, and cartography & Geographic Information Systems/science (pretty high-tech stuff about how we record and represent complex sets of spatio-temporal data). In general, geography is emerging as one of the most important fields for climate change studies, but it's also important other kinds of environmental research.</p>
<p>Unfortunately, many top universities and LACs no longer have geography departments; the discipline went out of fashion back in the 60s and 70s and was deemed expendable at many schools You quite literally can't study it at many schools, unless you do it on your own or come at limited aspects of it obliquely through anthropology, earth science, or environmental science courses. As a consequence, most of the top geography programs are now at state flagships or quasi-flagships. Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio State, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and UCLA are usually ranked among the very top in the field, along with Cambridge in the UK. LACs with strong geography departments include Middlebury, Macalester, Colgate, and Vassar. Clark University is also very strong in this field, and traditionally one of the most important centers for geography studies.</p>