What are the subjects one would study to become a geographer?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Geography is the study of the Earth.  Its various subdisciplines, including physical, regional, economic, and human geography, each focus on a distinct aspect of the broader scope of the field of geography.  Studying geography involves studying the spatial relationships between entities, the manner in which people have historically migrated, settled, and established communities, the distribution of agricultural regions, the location and effect on the environment and on human history of natural features like mountains and oceans, and how all of these elements interact and influence each other.  Consequently, the study of geography involves education in a wide array of subjects.

The two main categories of geography are “Physical” and “Human Geography.”  The former focuses on natural features and processes of the Earth, including the study of climate, hydrology, and natural phenomena that have affected the physical structure of the surface of the planet over millions of years.  The latter, “Human Geography,” focuses on the movement and concentration of people throughout history, and the contemporary structures in which people exist today.

The types of courses that one would likely be required to pass in order to be considered a geographer include titles like “World Geography,” “Human Geography,” “The Environment and Man’s Interaction with His Surroundings,” “Cartography” [the making of maps], “Earth Sciences,” “World History,” and “Statistics.”  Because the field of geography encompasses so many diverse elements, a strong academic background in each of these disciplines is required as a minimum for anybody hoping to earn a college degree in that field.  The field of cartography, in particular, has grown more interesting over the past 20 years as the commercial imaging industry has developed and made accessible to everyone the kinds of overhead imagery only available through use of satellites, and which previously had been available only to a select number of technologically advanced governments.

Anyone aspiring to become a geographer, needless to say, must possess a strong interest in the physical characteristics of the Earth, and in the evolution of humans and their interaction with their surroundings.  Most universities provide courses in these fields, and many offer degrees in Geography.