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Southern Oregon University

What is Geography?

Studying geography fosters an understanding of the relationship between human activities and the physical and cultural environments on global, regional, and local scales. Geography synthesizes concepts and information from other natural and social sciences, acting as a bridge between the various natural and social science disciplines. Fundamental geographic methodology asks “What is it? Where is it? Why is it there? What is its significance?”

Geography courses explore subjects as varied as global climate change, the mosaic of human settlement in Asia, regional voting patterns in the United States, which grapes grow best where, and the depletion of natural resources in developing countries.

Geography courses serve the curriculum of the SOU University Studies Program (general education), as well as the International Studies Program, the Environmental Studies Program, and the School of Education licensure program.  The Geography minor may be of interest to students in these programs as well as those participating in related business, education, social and natural science disciplines.

The specific goals of a geography education are to:

  • Prepare students in geographic methodology by encouraging thinking in a spatial context and asking students to observe, develop hypotheses, analyze and explain physical and cultural landscapes at various scales.
  • Develop the geographer's fundamental map reading, aerial image interpretation, and field research skills.
  • Enable students to explain geographic distributions, geographic interactions, and the nature of place.
  • Improve the student's ability to rigorously synthesize data from diverse sources to better understand the physical and cultural environments in which people live.
  • Prepare students in the application of geographic knowledge and skills through experiences with local and regional public resource agencies and in private enterprise.
  • Encourage the pursuit of geographic knowledge and the application of that knowledge in the evaluation of world-wide political environmental and social issues.