Geography opens doors to a wide variety of careers, such as an environmental specialist, business location/allocation expert, market researcher, community development and planning specialist, cartographer, satellite image analyst, weather forecaster, or teacher. In fact, almost any career would benefit from a better understanding of geography.
The word Geography is derived from the Greek words geo ("the Earth") and graphein ("to write", as in "to describe"). Geography is the study of the earth and its features and of the distribution of life on the earth, including human life and the effects of human activity. Since Geography is the study of the relationship between the planet earth and its inhabitants, it can be considered both a natural and a social science. Geographers look at all interactions and distributions in both the natural and human realms. They also examine how these interactions vary spatially.
Geography is the science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment.
There are two main branches of geography: human geography and physical geography. Human geography is concerned with the spatial aspects of human existence - how people and their activity are distributed in space, how they use and perceive space, and how they create and sustain the places that make up the earth's surface. Human geographers work in the fields of urban and regional planning, transportation, marketing, real estate, tourism, and international business.
Physical geographers study patterns of climates, land forms, vegetation, soils, and water. They forecast the weather, manage land and water resources, and analyze and plan for forests, rangelands, and wetlands. Many human and physical geographers have skills in cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Geographers also study the linkages between human activity and natural systems. Geographers were, in fact, among the first scientists to sound the alarm that human-induced changes to the environment were beginning to threaten the balance of life itself. They are active in the study of global warming, desertification, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, groundwater pollution, and flooding.
For more information on the department and our majors, you can also watch this brief presentation by our Undergraduate Coordinator, Dr. Jerry Shannon: