Let's face it - we understand that environmental consciousness involves a range of skills, and we are all trying to work at learning the right things to do in order to address the range of man-made issues we're facing.

But have you actually thought that a geographer might be just the person to assist in this?

You probably aren't aware of your knowledge or geography or geographers, as many major natural, urban, and social sciences involve some component of this.

And for that matter, a geographer can have various names and careers depending on what kind of people and places they work in.

For instance, they can be an ‘oceanographer’ or ‘climatologist’ or ‘GIS specialist’.

People tend to be of the opinion that studying a geography degree at university will not provide a clear or fruitful career path, yet this doesn't understand the fundamental skills a geographer or environmental science professional will employ.

It seems to be the case that if you find yourself studying geography, you won't have a job after university because the world is already mapped, and your only use would be to write textbooks anyway!

We can thankfully say that geography and geographers have formed the basis or many arts and sciences throughout history, and come from diverse education and knowledge backgrounds - all sharing one common trait - a curiosity to know what's hiding just out of sight.

People might not think it to be the case, but surely you've been in a situation where you were in an unfamiliar climate and craved knowledge about it to better adapt and profit from it.

Here in this article, we tap into the international and broad focus of geography and its various applications, all stemming from a very human desire to find out more about our planet and the climate around us.

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The Components of the Study of Geography

Mountains and seas are dynamic earth features
The topography of the world is not static! Source: Pixabay Credit: Bess-Hamiti

Due to the visibly slow change in the natural world, we tend to think of the environment as non-changing, especially when compared with the rapid pace at which the social world adapts.

Natural places and the physical environment nevertheless form a large part of our conceptualisation of our nations and ourselves.

However, we are often ignorant of the geographical and scientific means by which the topography, soil, mountains, and seas have come into being.

And whilst we believe that we already have a high level of knowledge about terrestrial and marine landforms, events such as the eruption of Anak Krakatoa in Indonesia reminds us that the planet is formidable and still misunderstood.

The island in the vicinity of the volcano has since been reduced to a quarter of its previous size, which just goes to show that the planet is far from static or slow.

Change can also be rapid.

This should therefore show the merit of studying our planet's composition. If it's not, consider Italy's disappearing coastline too.

Though not entirely visible to the naked eye, students and those with careers in geography have noted this phenomenon for a while.

With the help of the understanding of those with a relevant education and skills set, we've been able to find out that melting polar ice caps are causing this.

But that's not all, this level of change caused is actually also man-made: people moving sand to other locations for construction.

So we need to change our tactics, but do we consult urban planners? Governments? International scientific organisations?

Regardless of who you choose to consult, they would all actually have a level of qualification in geography!

The wide range of skills and tasks that fall within the purview of a geographer must simply concern the physical and natural environment on earth, far beyond just the idea of being able to read maps that we learn at school.

You may become a surveyor with a geography degree
Education in geography can even be applied to urban planning. Source: Pixabay Credit: Paul Br 75

How a Degree in Geography Can Prepare You

Geography is a diverse science, both physical, natural, and social.

An undergraduate university would prepare you for the diverse range of careers that you'll confront, so let's narrow down the choices a little.

Depending on your field of interest, a physical geography specialisation could entail:

  • Climatology: observing weather patterns over a long period to be able to predict future ones

  • Meteorology: short term weather analysis in order to forecast for days to weeks

  • Hydrology: watching the changes in the amount and quality of water on the earth's face

  • Biogeography: understanding the distribution of species and their effect on their surrounding environment

  • Oceanography: the study of seas and oceans

  • Environmental geography: focus on the human aspects of geography and their impacts, in urban settings for instance

It may come as some surprise to learn that there is human geography, focussing on cultures, communities, economies, and environments.

This could wind you up planning roads, studying tribes' impact and interaction with their environment, or specialising in applied geography.

Put simply, the breadth of types of job for a geography major are very wide.

The breadth of choices expands again for those who complete postgraduate studies in the discipline or complete an internship.

High School Geography is of Vital Importance

"Europe is France's biggest neighbour, right?"

As we've shown, geography really forms our core vision about the world around us, so it should be taken more seriously in VCE/HSC/WACE/QCE etc, no?

The bad news is that this is the case all across the anglophone sphere.

US students are exceptionally bad at anything geographical, with the vast majority of students lacking even the fundamentals to comprehend their local regional environments.

So due to this lack of perceived importance, who, without specialising in the niche, will manage global environmental systems in coming years?

Conservation of our environment concerns us all, and a broad understanding of this kind of information could aid citizens on a global scale to manage the coming catastrophe.

The right time to start this learning would obviously be in high school.

Knowing about other regions of the world is also crucial for helping us engage in an ever-more globalised world.

And beyond just having a grasp of travel and overseas work opportunities, we can use our knowledge to lend a hand to countries that don't have the same level of resources to protect against environmental destruction.

Once again, being an engaged global citizen starts in high school, and we can't just settle for watching David Attenborough documentaries to address imminent sustainability and ecology issues.

Alas, the system isn't about to change this drastically overnight, so we will keep seeking to inspire budding geography students to pursue university study in the field, and inspire stewardship of the earth for centuries to come.

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A GPS will not help you develop spatial skills
Contrary to popular belief, they're still creating maps, and need the help of geographers to do so. Source: Pixabay Credit CFVI

Reasons to Study Geography

You might think GPS and Google maps have rendered our geographical senses obsolete.

Due to this technological advancement, one must think that the entire world is already mapped, but this is far from true.

Cartographic abilities are still in high demand.

You obviously need someone to track and draw those maps that your phone reads out to you, right?

Relying entirely on your GPS isn't healthy either - it makes humans lose their natural tracking ability!

By rekindling your own innate compass, you'll wind up with a better comprehension of spatial relationships.

In ancient times, explorers relied on astronomy to navigate, with the positioning of the stars in relation to their location inspiring geospatial intelligence, thereby putting their position into perspective.

Just think: What would your process be for preparing for a stint studying abroad as a graduate student of geography?

Try also factoring the cost of a geography tutor into your plans first.

Then, you'd hone in on news reports, becoming intensely curious about the host culture, part of which would be getting to grips with its environmental landscape and how it fits into the region you're planning to visit.

Where will you find your local swimming hole?

What groovy hikes can you find? What's the state of urban development where you'll be - big city or small town?

Upon your return, the application of your geographical competencies and spatial awareness will be very clear, as will their relation to the globalised world we live in, including the correlation of cultural rites and global geography in forming cultural and social consciousness.

Learning about geography expands our understanding of humanity and the environment, which elucidates our own history too.

Geography is the place to really start if you want to intimately conceptualise the world we live in.

Having a career in a geography related domain is exciting and diverse, and can lead to broad-reaching opportunities due to the essential nature of the impact of human activity on global ecological systems.

So get cracking! Discover what geography courses can do for you and the world around us!


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