The offering of tertiary level courses in Geography started in the early 1950s in the former Haile Selassie I University, which later became Addis Ababa University. The establishment of the Department of Geography in the University, however, took place sometime later in 1961. Shortly after coming into existence, the Department managed to produce three graduates with bachelor’s degree in Geography in 1963. Since then, it has managed to continuously produce quite a large number of highly qualified professionals that are presently serving the country in various capacities. In the 2013/14 Academic Year, the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies hadmore than 100 students in its regular undergraduate program and over 70 students in its regular postgraduate programs (MA and PhD). Moreover, there are about 75 students enrolled in its evening program and more than 200 students in the summer in-service program.
The Department’s Master’s program, which started in 1978 with five students, has 229 students in regular, evening and summer in-service programs at present. Both the graduate and undergraduate curricula of the Department have been revised from time to time with external inputs from stakeholders and in line with the prevailing demand and with due consideration of the varying global schools of thought as well as in the light of the key development issues of our time.

It was about three decades later after launching the Master’s program that the Department was able to start running its PhD Program in 2008. Since then the Department has enrolled about 44 PhD students, of whomsix have successfully completed their studies. Currently, there are about 38 candidates doing PhD research and course work. All of the PhD candidates joined the Department from regional public universities.

Generally, in its undergraduate and graduate programs, the Department has a broad range of fields, which are complementary to each other, such as Physical Geography, Human Geography, Remote sensing and various tool courses including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Photogrammetry and Cartography. The areas of specialization in the MA program include Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography, Land Resource Management and Water Resources Management. In its PhD program, the Department enrolls students in the following two broad areas of specialization:

  1. i) Human Environment Management and Socioeconomic Development Planning
  2. ii) Environment and Natural Resources Management

Mission and Vision 

The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies aspires to become a center of excellence in the pursuit of knowledge in the interaction of the human and physical environments, and as such, aims at providing the highest quality education in an applied and career-oriented approach at the basic to advanced levels, with dedication to create and maintain an intellectually vital learning and research community that focuses on producing well informed, productive, creative, open-minded, and ethically responsible professionals.

The mission of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies is consistent with the missions of Addis Ababa University, College of Social Sciences. As such, the Department is committed to achieve the following:

  • Create, develop, and maintain an open and challenging intellectual atmosphere that engages students and faculty in continuing discourse, with focus on excellence in the pursuit of knowledge on human-environment interactions to produce scientifically competent and environmentally – conscious graduates;
  • Provide students with the highest quality education that will equip them with the critical reasoning and the state of the art technical skills that will enable them to analyze and understand an increasingly complex and interconnected world;
  • Nurture gender equality, tolerance and mutual respect inside and outside of the classroom;
  • Create close working relationships between the academic staff, students and administrative workers to facilitate understanding and to foster a sound teaching-learning environment that encourages the exchange of academic experiences;
  • Conduct applied research that involves faculty and students, to enhance geographic and environmental knowledge, improve the teaching-learning process, and familiarize students with the world of work;
  • Assist federal and regional governments, urban and rural communities, NGOs and private firms to carry out their development efforts more efficiently and effectively, indirectly through its high quality research outputs, and directly through consultancy services;
  • Provide state-of-the-art short-term training services to professionals of relevant public and private institutions on demand basis;
  • Encourage and develop networking with its alumni, relevant professional associations, Geography departments in other universities and colleges in Ethiopia and abroad as well as with public and private institutions that either support or conduct research in its areas of interest to generate funds and to enrich its teaching, research and community service programs;
  • Actively engage in the design and formulation of national, regional, local and institutional development policies, programs, especially in the areas of rural development, urban management and environmental conservation;
  • Actively participate in programs that aim at the improvement and preservation of environmental resources of Ethiopia;
  • § Assist the capacity building efforts of the Geography departments of other universities and colleges in Ethiopia by providing quality M.A. and PhD level training to their staff members; and
  • Periodically assess the progress of its academic, research and development programs, and fine-tune its teaching, research, and consultancy services to the changing needs and interests of its stakeholders and the wider community.