Geography and maps are a fundamental language for understanding the world. They provide a framework for organizing and communicating our knowledge. Increasingly geography is used in virtually every field of human endeavor, providing a universal language for understanding, communicating ideas, and providing insights. Geography asks the big questions—Where? How? Why? What if?—and gives you the perspective to answer them with advanced technology and a solid knowledge of the world in which we all live.
Geography is about more than just the location, coordinates, and position of things on Earth. Geography also studies the physical and human characteristics of places. From the dimensions of a single room to the extent of a cultural region or the entirety of the globe itself, geographers explore the meaning, function, and history of places, how places change, and how they are perceived.
Even though the term “geo-graphy” literally means to graph the earth, geography is also about the study of people. It is about the spatial aspects of human existence, how humans occupy and alter the landscape, and the relationships between nature and society.
History’s great explorers led challenging expeditions to the farthest reaches of the globe—to new continents, the poles, the tops of mountains, and the bottoms of the oceans. Today, modern technologies such as satellite imaging, remote sensing, and lidar have extended our ability to explore how earth and human systems work.
Since ancient times, maps have provided the means to capture geographic knowledge and share information with others in a simple and easily comprehensible way. Recent advances in technology have forever changed the way we create and use maps, and how we use them to tell geographic stories and solve geographic problems.
Geography offers a unique lens through which to observe and richly describe current events, recount history, inspire, educate, and amuse. Geographic storytelling engages audiences, using maps to connect stories to actual locations on earth. Modern geographic tools let you move beyond the traditional idea of a map, combining narrative text, images, videos, and other content to effectively tell your story.
Learning geography gives students deeper understanding of today’s most challenging issues including population, climate, health, and natural resources. Tools such as GIS allow students to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that deliver insights in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.
Science—an endeavor in which someone investigates a question or a problem, using reliable, verifiable methods, and sharing broadly what she or he finds as a result—has always been tied closely to increasing our understanding of the world around us. Geography provides the framework and foundation for enabling many kinds of scientific research.
Like virtually every discipline, the practice and study of geography has been fundamentally altered by the digital revolution. Today’s geographers are equipped with sophisticated programs that run on desktops and online. Collectively, these digital mapping and spatial analysis tools are known as GIS, or geographic information systems.
An understanding of geography helps people make critical business and organizational decisions. Geography careers exist in every field of human endeavor, from environmental science to business and beyond. This wide range of opportunities enables you to pursue your passions and interests for a dynamic and meaningful career.