Introduction to Human Geography
What is Geography?
From Greek words – geo (“earth”) and graphei (“to write”)
Evidently Geography means “Description of the Earth
Hence “geography” is often referred to as the Spatial Science
o Study of spatial variation (of how…and why?) physical and cultural
items differ across the earth
o How observable spatial patterns evolved through time
Basic concerns of geography
o Spatial patterns – description (what?)
o Spatial processes – explanation (why?)
o Spatial meaning – interpretation (so what?)
Key geographic principle:
“Things everywhere are not the same”
What is Human Geography?
Human geography studies the distribution of humans and their activities on
the surface of the earth and the processes that generate these distributions
“What is where, why there, and why care”
‘People’? What are human beings?
Dynamic – we change
Information processors – we take in information and process it
Decision makers – we make decisions on key issues
Preference makers – we have preferences on certain things
Part of the environment
In general…people are “active agents shaping the environment”
What is a place?
Physical site – materials located in space (i.e. “material space”)
Sense of place – immaterial meanings attributed to physical sits (i.e.
“immaterial” or “mental space”)
“Sense of place” is created through:
o Direct personal experience and observation
o Secondary sources (ex: media, talk, etc.) o Intrinsic characteristics of the site itself (ex: Grand Canyon, Eiffel
Why Places Matter?
Places matter because they…
Are the setting for our daily lives
Carry meaning and so influence our lives
Allow us to express ourselves
Help to form personal and group identities
Express political, economic, or religious ideas
What is a landscape?
Scape – representation or view of
Land – “environment: that which sustains and surrounds us
Human landscape – arrangement in physical space of human-made artifacts