Why Study Geography?


Geography is the study of the relationship between humans and our environment.

Geographers study

  • the diversity of the world’s people and places, and
  • the processes that build and shape landscapes—both natural and cultural aspects of landscape.

Geography is both a natural science and a social science. Both ways of knowing and producing new knowledge are important to understand the interrelationship of humans with the world around us.

Geographers are interested in space and scale. We love maps and mapping the spatial distribution of. . .well, anything! We are interested in how local processes influence regional and global processes, and vice versa.

Because of the attention paid to scale and the uneven distribution of the Earth’s resources, many geographers are concerned about social justice, sustainability, and global equity. Many geographers want not just to study the world, but to change it for the better.

Geography is a “muddy boots” discipline: while geographers use books, libraries, classrooms, computers, and labs, a lot of our learning occurs “in the field.” Whether the “field” is a prairie, farm, forest, desert, suburb, or city, we like to study the real world in real time. In other words, we like field trips and learning from people and nature in their own environments.

You may already be a geographer if...

  • You want to travel and explore the world.
  • You are fascinated by global change: environmental, cultural, and political-economic.
  • You use maps and think spatially.
  • You want to solve problems for sustainable, equitable use of the world’s resources.
  • You learn from “real” world field study.
  • You like discovering how particular places are connected by global processes.
  • You marvel at the world’s diversity of landscapes, people, and cultures.
  • You are concerned about how humans transform the world around us.
  • You are committed to identifying and changing world inequalities.
  • You like the airplane window seat.

What can you do with a geography major?

A Gustavus Geography degree can take you many places. Our graduates enjoy satisfying, rewarding vocations in environmental sustainability, geospatial analysis, urban and regional planning, international and community development, environmental law and policy, and teaching and research.