Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is Geography?

In preparing for Geography Awareness Week events, I thought I would define and build up some activities towards the goal of Geography Awareness Week.

As a series that is tauted as being a Geography series (United States), I should have an explanation of what geography is.

I received a brochure and poster for National Geography Awareness week in the mail on Friday, September 9, from the Georgia Geographic Alliance. The brochure has one flap dedicated to what geography is and why it is important.

Let's explore what geography is (dictionary definition versus GGA brochure definition).

Dictionary definition:
1. The study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources, land use, and industries
2. The nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features

Web definitions:
study of the earth's surface; includes people's responses to topography and climate and soil and vegetation

Geography (from Greek γεωγραφία - geographia, lit. "earth describe-write" ) is the study of the Earth and its lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". ...

the region of the Earth where we live that includes our natural environment, climate, vegetation and landforms.

From the GGA brochure:
What is Geography Anyway? For most people, for far too long, geography has meant memorizing facts, but it doesn't have to! The potential for geography is endless for exploring and explaining our world. More than physical, human and biological systems, more than a perspective or way to look at the world, geography is something to do. Geographers identify relationships, explain spatial distributions, analyze patterns and locations, solve problems, and make decisions. Geographers predict and plan for the future. Geography is something you do, not just something you know. Geography helps you understand how the world works. It explores different systems, the physical, human and biological, through space. However, geography is more than just systems. Geography helps you to examine the world using a spatial perspective. For example, an ecologist might study how individual species depend on one another, while a biogeographer might study how those dependencies influence and are influenced by location.

Why is it important? We live in an increasingly globalized society. Geographic knowledge, skills and technology provide a means to understand the rapidly changing physical and cultural environments of the world. Geography allows us to comprehen the complex connectivity and interdependence of peoples and places of our world. Geography prepares us all to be better global citizens in a globalized world.

Basically, what geography is is the study of people and places and how they act and react and interact with each other. Although my series doesn't go into depth in the study of people and places, it does provide a small window of insight in how geography has evolved just in the United States alone.

Stay tuned for Geography Awareness week activities and ways to earn some badges - Mrs. E :)

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