The pursuit of knowledge changes a person, but that change is not always drastic or profound. That’s not true of geographers; it’s impossible to reach the end of that journey without experiencing a total overhaul of one’s beliefs and perspectives. The discipline of geography requires the ability to see the world as a cohesive whole rather than disconnected individual parts, and it imparts such a complete knowledge of ecological systems and how they flow into one another that geographers cannot help but see other things in a similar way.
The Connection Between the Earth and its People
Some may consider talk of how the planet and humanity are connected as pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo. In truth it’s wholly scientific; it’s hard for people in regions with infertile soil to rise out of poverty. The ability of the average person to cognize how human actions impact the environment and the creatures who live in it is inextricably linked to the reckless practices of major industries. Fixing environmental problems is the same as fixing human problems and vice versa. This is one reason that geographers work in so many varied fields; there are few things that are so far removed from geography that knowing the discipline can be made relevant to nearly any job someone would choose to do.
Some people are better at mapping spaces within their minds than others, but there isn’t a single geographer who lacks skill in this area. Geography is designed specifically to strengthen the brain’s ability to create accurate images of places and things, and this lends itself to a subtle difference of perception that separates geographers from most of the population. When a normal person looks at a city block he only sees what’s in front of him. The geographer images that road for a two mile stretch and imagines how each one of the streets interconnects with the hills and valleys that inevitably accompany the lay of the land. Geographers see a place to deconstruct and explore instead of simply moving from one spot to another as rapidly as possible.
Saving the World
Some people go into geography merely because they are curious, and that curiosity gives them a predilection toward hard sciences that becomes a passion. Others want to leave a mark on the world, and whether geographers want to gain knowledge and solve puzzles or liberate the whole of mankind, they are a step ahead when it comes to finding answers to big problems.
Things That Can’t be Measured
Geography is a field that can be expressed in far more poetic terms than it usually is, and it’s a shame because the perspective that geographers have would be a wonderful gift for those who can only think in terms of time and language. Regardless, it is a fascinating field that yields fruits so diverse and succulent that the world would be far poorer for its absence even though people are mostly unaware of what geographers contribute. It isn’t a sexy profession; it’s not well known and parents don’t push their kids toward it, but geographers will help construct the cornerstone of future civilizations just as they have in the past.
Scott Naisbit writes for education blogs. Interested in the field of geography? You may want to consider getting a GIS masters degree as a way to jump start your career.