Gamma Theta Upsilon

The International Geographical Honor Society


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Constitution & Bylaws

International Organization

Brief History of Gamma Theta Upsilon
Symbolism and Insignia
Educational Fund
Scholarships and Awards
Regional Divisions
Relationships to Professional Organizations



Chapter Organization


Chapter Roll



Gamma Theta Upsilon International Organization

I.  Name

GAMMA THETA UPSILON is an International Geographical Honor Society.  The name is taken from significant Greek letters Gamma, Theta and Upsilon.  Expressed in Greek,

it is as follows:

II.  Purpose

The purposes of this Society shall be fivefold: 

1.  To further professional interest in geography by affording a common organization for those interested in this field. 

2.  To strengthen student and professional training through academic experiences other than those of the classroom and laboratory. 

3.  To advance the status of geography as a cultural and practical discipline for study and investigation. 

4.  To encourage student research of high quality and to provide an outlet for publication. 

5.  To create and administer funds for furthering graduate study and/or research in the field of geography.

III.  Brief History of Gamma Theta Upsilon, The International Geographical Honor Society

Gamma Theta Upsilon owes its origin to the vision of Dr. Robert G. Buzzard.  He established an honorary fraternity in the field of geography just prior to World War I, while a student at the University of Chicago.  This attempt to form a permanent organization was not successful. 

During 1924-25, while a graduate student at Clark University, Dr. Buzzard was influenced by a local organization called the Clark University Geographical Society (CUGS).  CUGS was comprised of students in attendance and persons with a graduate degree from Clark University.  Dr. Buzzard had a great appreciation for the value and importance of geography student organizations.

The possibility of establishing a geographical fraternity was discussed during the annual meeting of the National Council for Geographic Education in 1925 at Madison, Wisconsin.  At that time, academic fraternities representing other disciplines were growing at a rapid pace, and interest in a geography honor society was also increasing. 

During the 1920s, Dr. Buzzard established a geography club at Illinois State Normal. University, Normal, Illinois, where he was a Professor.  On May 15, 1928, the club became Alpha Chapter, Gamma Theta Upsilon, a professional geography fraternity, with thirty-three charter members, chartered under the State of Illinois.

For three years, Alpha Chapter continued as a thriving local fraternity.  Interest gradually increased, however, in developing a national organization for Gamma Theta Upsilon.  In the Spring of 1931, a determined effort was made to nationalize.  This effort was successful, and on May 15, 1931, the Founder's Day of Alpha Chapter, charters were granted to four additional chapters: the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Sam Houston State Teachers College, Huntsville, Texas; State Teachers College, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; and Southwest Missouri State College, Springfield, Missouri.  Since that time, more than 200 GTU chapters have been established, and new chapters are added almost every year.

In order to strengthen ties among chapters and among all members of Gamma Theta Upsilon, Regional Divisions were established in 1972.  These divisions correspond generally to the regional divisions of the Association of American Geographers.

IV.  Symbolism and Insignia

The symbolism of the Society is embodied in the key insignia found on the front cover of the Handbook.  The Gamma Theta Upsilon badge is a key which signifies the achievement of quality in a field of science.  The base or body of the key is a seven-sided shield.  Each bevel carries the initial of one of the Earth's continents.  Beginning with Europe at the top, there are the continents of the Old or Eastern World, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.  To the key's left are North America, South America, and Antarctica, the three great land masses brought into recorded geographical knowledge as humanity expanded westward from the Old World to the New World.  Spread across the key's base are five wavy blue lines signifying the five great bodies of water that have carried voyagers to all the lands of the Earth: the Atlantic, the Indian, the Pacific, the Arctic, and the Antarctic or Great Southern Ocean.  Above the waves is located a white star which is symbolic of Polaris, the great guide to travelers over the vastness of the northern hemisphere oceans.  At the key's top stand the letters Gamma, Theta, and Upsilon.  These initials of the three Greek words, Ge (Earth), Thalassa (sea), and Hypaithrois (atmosphere), serve as a reminder of the three great environmental domains with which geography deals.  The colors of Gamma Theta Upsilon are symbolic of geography's three domains:  brown for the Earth, light blue for the sea, and gold for the sunlight or sky.  Gamma Theta Upsilon is an academic honor society in the field of geography.  There are no secret signs, words, or grips, except that members wear the badge of Gamma Theta Upsilon as a sign to the World of their interest in geography and their determination to support and promote the discipline. 

The procedure for obtaining keys is covered in the "Procedures" section of the Handbook.

V.  Educational Fund

A major achievement of Gamma Theta Upsilon has been the establishment of an Educational Fund to promote and support scholarly projects of the Society.  These are research, publication, lectures, scholarships, and other activities that are not a part of the Society's regular operational functions.     

VI.  Scholarships and Awards

Five scholarships, two graduate and three undergraduate, are awarded annually. 

All scholarship and award recipients must be Regular Members currently affiliated with an active chapter or the Alumni Chapter, have excellent academic records, and have contributed significantly to their chapters.

Applicants may not apply for both the Richason and Buzzard Scholarships during the same year. 

 (a)  The Robert G. Buzzard Graduate Scholarships:

An outstanding graduate student Member is selected from qualified applicants who are already in a Master's or Doctoral program

An outstanding undergraduate student Member is chosen from qualified applicants who have been accepted into a geography graduate program. 

(b)  The Benjamin Richason Jr., Orland Maxfield, and Alice Rechlin Undergraduate Scholarships

One undergraduate award in each category will be presented annually.

Eligibility criteria include regular membership in GTU, and junior or senior undergraduate status at the time of the award.  The scholarship is available to students with either career or graduate school aspirations.

Selection criteria will be based on service to GTU, service to the Geography Department, academic performance, and recommendations of worthiness.

(c)   "Award for Excellence in Geography" Certificate

Annually, chapters are entitled to present an "Award for Excellence in Geography" certificate.  Criteria may be established locally for the selection of the recipient, who should be an outstanding member of the chapter.

(d)   Award for Gamma Theta Upsilon Chapter of the Year

Selection for this award will be by the Scholarship Committee of Gamma Theta Upsilon.  Nominating materials must be sent to the Second Vice President by June 1.

(e)   Presidential Citation Award

This award is given in recognition of special, personal and meritorious contributions to the operation or advancement of Gamma Theta Upsilon and its interest.  No more than five of these award will be given in any year.  This award may be presented to an individual or group.

(f)   Distinguished Service Award

This award is given to Gamma Theta Upsilon members in recognition of outstanding efforts in helping the Society develop and carry out its program over a sustained period of time.  No more than three of these awards will be given in any year.

(g)   Endowment Award

This award is presented to individuals, organizations or corporations in recognition of financial sponsorhip or endowment of Gamma Theta Upsilon.

Procedures for applying for a scholarship or for obtaining the "Award for Excellence in Geography" certificate are in the "Procedures" section of the Handbook.

VII.  Publications

(a) Gamma Theta Upsilon Handbook

The Gamma Theta Upsilon Handbook provides information and gives direction for the orderly operation of a chapter.  Included are the International Constitution, Bylaws, and a Roll of Chapters.  The Handbook is provided to inform, inspire, and otherwise assist the officer or member who uses it as a reference.

(b) The Geographical Bulletin

The Society publishes a biannual professional journal entitled The Geographical Bulletin.  It is intended primarily as an outlet for papers written by student members, although the Editor may also publish papers by faculty members, and other persons with expertise in topics of interest to geographers.  Specific instructions for presenting manuscripts can be obtained from the Editor.

The Geographical Bulletin may also include news from chapters that submit such information in an annual report. 

VIII.  Regional Divisions

Eight Regional Divisions of Gamma Theta Upsilon, generally corresponding to those of the Association of American Geographers, have been established.  The function of these regions is to strengthen the ties among the members within each region, and to the International Society.  Divisional meetings with representatives from chapters within the regions should be held annually.  A Councilor for each Division is appointed by the President.  It is the responsibility of the First Vice-President to act as National Coordinator of the Divisional Councilors.

IX.  Relationships to Professional Organizations

The Association of American Geographers and the National Council for Geographic Education have a shared involvement and responsibility in Gamma Theta Upsilon programs and activities.  During the annual conventions of both of these professional organizations, Gamma Theta Upsilon actively participates by holding meetings and executive sessions, and by attending banquets, luncheons and other events.  Gamma Theta Upsilon, the Association of American Geographers, and the National Council for Geographic Education must work together in a spirit of cooperation to further mutual understanding and the general good of the discipline of geography.

 Gamma Theta Upsilon has also been a participating member of the Association of College Honor Societies since 1976.

Constitution & Bylaws

International Organization



Chapter Organization


Chapter Roll