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Earth Sciences

What is Geography?

A basic definition might be: “the study of the Earth and its peoples.” and this is generally true even among professional geographers who typically study the physical environment (the Earth and it’s four biospheres), the human environment (society, culture, religion), or the interactions between the two (environmental geography or just environmental science). A broader definition is that geography is the study of spatial patterns and relationships: how do soils, biomes, cities, and cultures vary across space, and what does this mean? Geographers like to say we look for patterns and processes, rather than universal laws like you might find in more “mature” sciences like physics. The closest thing geographer’s have to a universal law was articulated by Waldo Tobler: "Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things." That is, we expect things that are closer together to be more similar to those that are far apart. Is this always true? Sadly, no. Although it is not a universal law like gravity, Tobler’s law holds up most of the time and underlies much of the scientific investigations within the field. (Based on 'What is Geography?' with kind permission of GeoJunk.)

Why Study it?

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  • "Geographers examine changing patterns of vegetation to study global warming; they analyze where ethnic groups live in Bosnia to help understand the pros and cons of competing administrative solutions to the civil war there; they map AIDS cases in Africa to learn how to reduce the spread of the disease." - Alexander Murphy

Geography - Open Courseware (OCW)

OER Courseware Modules

Pennsylvania State University (US)

Resources available for reuse by teachers and learners worldwide; Energy and Mineral Engineering, Geography, Geosciences, Materials Science, Meteorology, Earth and Environmental Systems, Earth and Mineral Sciences Writing


A Workshop on Geographic Information Systems

MIT OpenCourseWare

technical skills in the use of GIS software, qualitative methods skills in data and document gathering, analyzing information, and presenting results, potential and practicality of GIS technologies in a typical planning setting, applications


Open Web Mapping

Pennsylvania State University (US)

design, develop, and implement custom web mapping applications using open standards and open source software, open source software packages for web mapping, pointers to commercial solutions where appropriate


Cartography and Visualization

Pennsylvania State University (US)

Visual Thinking and Visual Communication, Creating a Reference Map for Use in Emergency Management, Multiple Representations, Representing Volumes and Surfaces, A Deeper Understanding of Coordinate Systems and Projections, Multivariate Representation and Geographic Visualization, Capstone Project


Cartography and Visualization

Ohio Wesleyan University (US)

reviews cartographic design, production and visualization in the context of geographic information systems (GIS): readings, project


Introduction to Physical Geography

California State University (US)

Systematic study of the physical environment including human-environmental interaction, environmental hazards, and natural resources: readings, labs, study guides, Online lectures on maps (Projections, Scale, Symbolization)


Geographer's Craft

Colorado University (US)

teaching initiative to improve teaching of geographical techniques: aerial photography & remote sensing, application areas, cartographic communication, coordinate systems, data sources, database concepts, error, accuracy & precision, geodetic datums, GIS (context, concepts & definitions, in workplace), problems & exercises, study questions


GIS Fundamentals

Texas University (US)

Examines in detail the fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their applications: Fundamental Concepts, Terrestrial Data Structures, Land Ownership Systems, Data (Structures, Quality, Input, Analysis and Modelling, Output and Mapping Principles), Map Examples, Future of GIS, Exercises and Projects, Data Files for Exercises, General Info

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