The staff of Riparia teach a variety of water-related and ecological courses within the Department of Geography and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Some of these courses can be applied to undergraduate minors (Geography, Watersheds and Water Resources) and certificates (Environment and Society Geography, Landscape Ecology, Physical Geography). On occasion, courses are offered online or as a hybrid resident and online course. Additional courses and an undergraduate certificate in water are currently under development.

GEOG 431: Geography of Water Resources (3 credits)

GEOG 431 is designed for students to understand the natural processes of aquatic ecosystems, management of water resources, and threats to sustaining water quantity and quality, for all types of freshwater surface, groundwater, rivers, lakes, wetlands. This course should appeal to water resource managers, geographers, ecologists, earth scientists, planners, other environmental professionals as well as non-science majors. This course will develop awareness and appreciation of the multiple perspectives about water as a precious resource, commodity, and sometimes hazard. Students in the course will first examine water Course Justification characteristics, sources, classification systems, and aquatic ecosystems. Next, we will examine water resource management, including issues surrounding irrigation; floods and dams; provision of safe potable water; threats to water quantity and quality including human and aquatic ecosystem effects; the water economy including virtual water and water footprints; water laws and policy; institutions for water management at the global, national, regional and local scale; and issues of water conflict, security, and climate change.

GEOG 453: GIS Applications in Water Resources and Aquatic Ecosystems (3 Credits)

This course is designed to expose students to different GIS applications in water resources. It will emphasize geospatial data acquisition of hydrologic features, spatial analysis, and data representation. Students will learn through projects, lectures and hands-on computer lab exercises to investigate and solve water resource issues. Practical applications will focus on watershed and drainage network delineation, assessment of aquatic ecosystems, and surface generation methods using spatial hydrology models.

GEOG 496: Modeling Environmental Processes in Dynamic Glacial Landscapes

Students will model a variety of environmental processes to address questions surrounding climate change, eco-hydrology, and remote sensing as they relate to glacial recession and its impact on both the surrounding ecosystems and the ecosystem services provided to local and regional communities. Data sets include methane and carbon dioxide gas flux, microbial community composition, stable water isotope signatures, and a large set of environmental variables such as elevation, plant cover, water quality parameters, etc. Additionally, high-resolution drone imagery will be used to create fine grain DEMs of the glacial watersheds where the environmental datasets were collected. Algorithms and data interpolation methods will be developed using GIS applications to construct process models for these rapidly changing landscapes.

GEOG 550: Wetlands Ecology and Management (3 Credits)

Recommended Preparations: One course in ecological or hydrological sciences. This course explores the diversity, complexity, ecological functions, conservation, and cultural values of freshwater and coastal wetlands through interdisciplinary discussions, readings, projects, and field trips. Learning Outcomes: Students successfully completing this course will gain an understanding about the ecology, management, and conservation of freshwater and coastal wetlands. They will be able to classify different wetland types using multiple methods, understand the breadth of wetland functions, and become familiar with laws, regulations, and approaches to conserve wetlands.


Riparia offers summer internships to qualified undergraduate students interested in wetland, stream, and wildlife habitat research. Interns typically assist with sampling in wetland, stream, or riparian field sites located primarily in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic. Tasks include: characterizing sites (sampling vegetation, site mapping, preparation of soil samples, collecting and sorting invertebrates); processing water and soil samples in the laboratory; entering data; and working with faculty, staff and graduate students on research-related tasks. Experience in field sampling, soils characterization, and/or laboratory analysis preferred, but not required. These paid internships are typically offered for 10-12 weeks from early May through mid-August.



Riparia has an outstanding reputation in the mission of Outreach and Service. Whenever possible, we respond to requests for information and assistance. These include requests from the University students and faculty, the University’s Office of the Physical Plant, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, consulting firms, industries, schools, and citizens. Much of our effort has depended upon volunteerism, with a modest amount of discretionary resources used to encourage and support these activities. As water quantity and quality issues continue to come to the forefront, scientists, policy-makers and citizens will demand more refined knowledge about these essential systems, and Riparia will be able to respond to those inquiries.