Raise your hand, please, if you know someone who is a geographer? My guess is that they’ll be zero hands waving about now … right?

The reason for this is that geographers are known by numerous other titles; titles we commonly know, such as GIS specialist, oceanographer or meteorologist.

Very few people believe that a degree in geography will lead to solid job prospects.

As a matter of fact, quite a number think that, since every little corner of the world has been charted, there’s no need for a subject like geography anymore!

They could not be more wrong …

Some believe that geography is the mother of all sciences, because of its extensive sub-specialities, as well as its long history, which probably began with a simple enquiry, ‘I wonder what's on the far side of this hill?’

Has that ever happened to you? You’ve found yourself in unknown surroundings and suddenly been struck by the urge to explore, to discover it a bit more.

Superprof feeds off that self-same human urge to mine, to dig (think geology); to investigate and find reasons which explain why geography is as fundamental today as it was when man first started migrating out of Africa, his known world.

Geography as a Subject to Study

People often believe that mountains, bodies of water and continents are ageless and never-changing.

Very few people are aware of, or pay any mind to, how the land changes over time – through erosion, denudation and volcanic eruptions.

On 22 December 2018, the tsunami which struck the coasts of Java and Sumatra (parts of Indonesia), builds an interesting and well-timed case for why it is necessary to study shorelines and landforms.

The fact that much of the island of Anak Krakatau has collapsed into the ocean proves that the earth is active as opposed to being static or inert.

If that is so, shouldn’t such variations, no matter how small, be examined and recorded?

Another occurrence which demonstrates this fact neatly is the disappearing Italian coastline.

This discovery was not made by keen beachcombers, but by persons skilled and trained in gathering and evaluating statistics and information.

lake, hills, and purple flowering shrubs at sunset
People often think that the physical landscape has never changed! (Source: Unsplash)

The erosion of the Italian coastline has been ascribed, in part, to global warming: the polar ice caps melting and causing rising sea levels.

This means that oceanographers and climatologists should be burning the midnight oil to find solutions immediately, right?

The main cause for the erosion of that coastline is, however, human activity: people increasingly removing sand from the beaches to build.

Local government and town councils, in particular, are responsible in this instance. City planners are allowing developers to build like there’s no tomorrow!

Is it all surprising that a number of the career fields, referred to above, are sub-specialities, branches of geography?

Through a selection of special fields, the categorisation of earth’s man-made and natural variations falls within the scope of geographers.

What Will a Geography Degree Prime You For?

Geography, as a social science, has many facets.

 A study of geography at varsity will definitely prepare you for a number of different careers, but which branch would you explore?

For example, you might decide to make physical geography your speciality. Your geography study guide would probably list the following aspects:

  • Environmental geography: looks at mankind’s spatial interaction with the environment.
  • Meteorology: investigating weather processes for the purpose of short-term weather forecasting.
  • Climatology: studies weather conditions over extended periods of time to make available predictions.
  • Bio-geography: looks at the way species are distributed and how they affect the environment.
  • Hydrology: studies the quantity and quality of water; in specific regions or across the earth
  • Oceanography: the study of seas and oceans.

At the other end of the scale to physical geography, is human geography; it’s the study of people, their traditions and customs, the environment and the economy.

aerial photography of lit up city buildings under blue and white sky
A geography degree can help you become a town planner. (Source: Unsplash)

A first degree in this field could precede a gratifying career in urban geography; laying out streets or mapping out whole towns or cities.

This extensive humanities course includes the disciplines of cultural geography, social geography, economic geography and applied geography.

Whether you are excited about travelling the world or prefer to remain in a local office, as a geography graduate, you would have a great deal of interesting careers to choose from.

Think about how the studying of geography has advanced since the days of Magellan and Columbus.

If computers are you area of interest, prepare yourself to work as a geographical information systems specialist (GIS), a field in which you could either do fieldwork or opt to remain office-bound and analyse and study sets of data.

Briefly stated, anyone studying a geography course would have no shortage of careers to choose from!

Matric Geography is of Critical Importance

I’ve heard that so much happens at gunpoint … but where is it? Verne, truck driver

It’s rather surprising that fewer and fewer learners continue to study geography as a subject in South African high schools and universities.

Students are, very often, leaning towards the study of other sciences as opposed to learning vital lessons about their natural environment and aspects like regional geography.

If geography students continue to dwindle in numbers at university level, there will soon be no qualified people to fill the positions calling for expertise in various facets of this very important earth science.

The planet’s systems would then be managed by persons who have a mere smattering of the knowledge they require to adequately acquit themselves of their tasks way into the future, leaving all of us at risk.

Humankind is facing serious challenges as relates to environmental concerns and conservation. Continued and ongoing efforts, engaging all of mankind, are required to overcome them.

The youth of South Africa must be exposed to these concerns, so that they, from a young age, can engage in ways to solve issues such as environmental degradation, pollution and climate change, in a world they’re going to inherit.

The study of geography and, in particular, our impact on the environment, will impart an insight into the fact that there are various events which commonly occur in different parts of the world.

South Africa is fortunate, in that, natural disasters, like earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, do not commonly occur here. However, we are sometimes afflicted by drought and floods.

In this country, the environment is also impacted on by littering on a massive scale, as well as the contamination of marine and riverine water sources. One of the greatest causes for these forms of pollution is lack of education; an issue which a course in geography could obviate!

Young people must have a deeper insight into the challenges which affect their neighbourhood, country and, indeed, the entire globe.

It is not sufficient to have watched a documentary, like An Inconvenient Truth or the Blue Planet, or to generally talk about ecology and sustainability.

As stewards of the future earth, these inspired students will be led to comprehend how these concepts are inter-related as well.

Superprof will help you unearth - pun intended - a geography tutor!

person holding mobile phone and using GPS
Continually using a GPS doesn't allow you to hone your orientation skills! (Source: Unsplash)

Study Geography: For What Earthly Reason?

We now have GPS! Who needs maps?

People may think that since virtually every little crevice on earth has been mapped already, there’s no need for explorers anymore and that cartography has died a natural death.

However, the skills of a cartographer are still very much in demand; atlases and classroom maps will always be needed.

Have you ever thought about who inputs all the necessary information and draws the maps displayed on your GPS? A Geographic Information System Specialist did it – of course!

It’s also a known fact that you cannot always depend solely on your GPS – again, a great reason to study geography!

Studying geography will assist you in developing superb navigation expertise by facilitating the building of spatial relationships.

As the ancient mariners navigated by the stars, you may well develop such geospatial knack ascertaining the peculiar characteristics of whatever environment you are in.

Let’s assume that you’re taking up an opportunity to study overseas. What would you do to prepare yourself for that journey?

Would you factor the fee of a geography tutor into your schemes?

News reports, especially about that region, would now be of interest to you; so too, would the culture. You might also research the environment of the city or town you’re going to be located in.

Would there be a lake, river or ocean to swim in? Are there hiking trails? In terms of urban development, is it a small town a large city?

When you come home, after your overseas stay, you will realise that your studies in geography and experience have assisted you to realise what globalisation is on a profoundly more personal level.

This, again, would deepen your understanding of world geography and of being culturally aware … which is precisely the kind of comprehension that needs to be cultivated!

The future safety of humankind, in a constantly changing world, will be enhanced by those who have undertaken a study of geography, as well as those who have a grasp of our common history.

If you wish for a better sense of world history, start a study of geography!

A programme of study in geography assures career constancy. It’s guaranteed to be exciting and engaging, as well as presenting you with a greater appreciation of global ecological systems and how mankind impacts on them.

Hopefully for the better …

Why hesitate? Find out what a geography course is able to do for you and your world!

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Career teacher turned writer. Passionate about family, running, and the great outdoors.