What is Geography?
Geography is an integrative discipline bridging the social sciences, physical sciences and humanities in the study of the relations between humans and the earth. Within this framework, geographers examine virtually any social/physical issue, such as the linkages between international development and environmental conservation; the opportunities and problems associated with growth in Florida; monitoring the impact of hurricanes; transport navigation; consumer profiling; the debt crisis; military targeting; deforestation; conservation, and hunger, to name a few. With a geographic perspective, such issues become more than isolated events when they are placed in a broader context of global understanding. In an interdependent world where decisions made in Tokyo or Iowa affect the lives of people in all societies, responsible citizenship requires a solid foundation in geographic knowledge.
Geography is the study of place, or space, in the same sense that history is the study of time. The first question a geographer asks is "where are things located?" but even more important is "why are they located where they are?" and “how do we map them?” Geographers are concerned with interpreting and explaining the occurrence, distribution, and interrelationships in the physical and cultural realms. Because of the breadth of its focus, Geography is both a natural science and a social science. It forms an interdisciplinary bridge between the physical and cultural worlds, examining both humans and their environment. Some geographers specialize in environmental issues, including patterns of climate, vegetation, soil, landforms, resources, and hazards and their relations to humans. Economic, social, and political geographers investigate such issues as agricultural land use, settlement patterns, boundary disputes, the trade areas of cities, cultural diffusion, perceptions of the environment, labor markets and international trade. While others focus on mapping these applications with computer software and global positing systems at ever improving accuracy and precision.
What Geographers Do
There are many career paths for the graduating geographer in the public or private sectors. Geographers bring important knowledge and analytical techniques to resource management and planning agencies. Their training enables them to determine where public facilities and infrastructure are best located so that the greatest number of people benefit. Professional geographers today often find employment in government, either at the local or state levels, or in a variety of federal agencies, the military, and in international organizations. Most positions do not carry a title of “Geographer”; rather, geographers fill such jobs as Cartographer, Intelligence Officer, Landscape Ecologist, Geographic Information Specialist, and Soil Conservationist. Another rapidly developing field is metropolitan and regional planning, in which geographers are engaged in monitoring environmental problems, land use changes, emergency planning, waste disposal, housing, transportation patterns, and poverty abatement.
These abilities and skills are also valued by private firms investing in residential or commercial development; a geographer can pinpoint where investments are likely to yield optimal returns. Geographers in private business are involved in industrial location research, marketing, planning for utility companies, environmental and site location consultants, real estate developers, port and airport authorities, travel agencies, and in transportation planning for airlines or trucking firms. Other geographers in private business work as writers, editors, and cartographers for publishers of maps, atlases, textbooks, and news and travel magazines. Numerous firms and agencies are implementing Geographic Information Systems to process statistical and remotely sensed data.
Geography also offers a number of rewarding opportunities within education. Increasing university and high school enrollments nationwide have created a continuing need for many Geography teachers, especially in states in which Geography is required for university admissions. Fortunately, the old-fashioned place-name Geography that so long colored the average American's impression of the discipline is being rapidly replaced by innovative and challenging curricula whose implementation require well-trained teachers with broad backgrounds and bold ideas.
For students planning to terminate their formal education with the bachelor's degree, Geography provides both the regional and world perspective required of responsible citizens. Geography is especially valuable for those who plan to do graduate work in geographical information science, urban planning, environmental studies, social sciences, business, or law.
Geography at FSU
The Geography department at Florida State University has particular expertise in geographical information science and human-environmental issues.
Faculty interests cover a number of interrelated topics, including hurricane damage, mitigation and relief, dune vegetation, urban lightning, the governance of global resources and marine territoriality, urban sustainability, fertility and mortality, coastal and estuarine studies, landscape ecology and carbon emissions, and conservation.
The Department also offers graduate degree programs at the master's and doctoral levels designed to equip students with the technical skills and intellectual creativity required in a changing labor market. The master’s degree in GIS focuses on the theoretical development and vocational implementation of computer-based spatial algorithms and their geographic and environmental applications. Whilst the traditional master’s and doctoral programs, include research into resource management, land use modeling, transport optimization, hurricane monitoring, and environmental conflict.
Dr. Victor Mesev is the Chair of the Department of Geography. He may be contacted at (850) 645-2498 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Bellamy 323A). Student office hours are on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 2:00pm to 4:00pm only.
Leslee Horner is the Undergraduate Advisor for Geography and Environmental Studies for the 2008-2009 academic year. She can be contacted at (850) 644-8386 or email@example.com (Bellamy 311).