Why Study Geography?

Why Study Geography?

‘Geography is both science and art’ -H.C. Darby (1962)

‘Geography is the study of earth as the home of people’ -Yi-Fu Tuan (1991)


We live in a world that we are understanding is incredibility interconnected both socially and physically. The work of geographers has shown both the profound extent to which human societies have modified the environments that they live in, and the effects on human societies of a dynamic bio-physical world. In New Zealand this dynamic relationship has been amply illustrated by the research of geographers and historians writing together the New Zealand Historical Atlas.

The study of geography guides students towards a critical appreciation of this interaction between society and the bio-physical. Geographers have long been attentive to the differences and similarities that exist between places, but even more so geographers have tried to understand why places have the character they do and how this has been shaped in relation to other places.

Understanding why requires an appreciation of the active connection between fields such as culture, technology, politics, economics, geomorphology, and bio-physical processes to name a few. To provide answers to the critical question of why leads geographers to utilise a tools and forms of knowledge that span the continuum from the arts to the sciences.

The world is a complex mosaic of places, and the problems facing us are equally complex. The character of problems such as climate change mean that we do not have the luxury of fragmented, isolated thinking. Study geography because it provides a window into the complexity of our world, and it is only by thinking through complexity that we can successfully act to shape the world that is our home.

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