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What's in a Name? Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability Key Words and Program Names

When: November 17, 2020

Where: Online


What attracts students to our courses and to our majors? Three co-authors of a forthcoming Annals article have helped answer these questions by surveying more than 4,000 undergraduates at four U.S. universities, asking them to rate key words from course titles and descriptions as well as degree and department names. The results suggest strategies for attracting students to our classes, and majors to our programs. Among the key findings that will be discussed are that undergraduates overwhelmingly and consistently preferred simple, thematic types of terms to those that sounded more technical or science oriented. Forms of the word geography were rated significantly lower than words or phrases containing environment and sustainability. Forms of geography that included the word science were rated particularly low.

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