Tuesday, November 13, 2012
What are the Skills of the Geographer?
Geographers look at the world and its issues from a wide range of perspectives. That is why they are very attractive to future employers. However what makes Geographers and those that do geography uniquely different from other skills sets and professionals? What is a person practicing Geography doing that others don’t do? Well they are making connections. The overriding and main connection they are making in connecting the WHAT of a place or issue with the WHERE of that same place. Geographers are always thinking of these two parts of a Geographical question together. These are the spatial parameters of places or those items that gives us all our sense of place. It is with this in mind that the geographer needs to focus on specific skills and tools to better demonstrate and explain the Where side of the equation (WHAT +WHERE =PLACE)
Once we have identified the where in this equation, Geographers want to look at the reasons as to why a place is unique? In other words Geographers want to look at the WHY THERE? And once again to understand the uniqueness of the reasons that one place is different from another, Geographers need to call on specific skills and tools. Many of these tools are used in other areas and fields of endevours but when the individual is using them they are always doing Geography.
Finally we are all citizens and participants in families, neighborhoods, countries and the world. In other words we are all Global Citizens. And with this come a number of rights and responsibilities. However Geographers have the ability to apply their geographical and spatial skills to their specific focus. It is important for everyone when they are working through Geographical issues or problems that they are able to come up with answers both for themselves and for society. In other words, they need to be able to answer WHY CARE? These answers may reflect broad areas such as Social justice, environmental stewardship, and/ or sustainability. They may be more specific as in making decisions such as those professionals like a planner, geologist, or policeman. However all of these decisions are made using the specific tools of Geography.
Geographers s are adept in collecting and analyzing information using various technical and laboratory-based methods for the collection and analysis of spatial and environmental information (e.g. GIS, remote sensing and mathematical modeling) and recognizing the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries.
Just as a scientist goes through a process for conducting experiment to prove a theory or concept, an engineer uses a specific process to design and build an bridge, or a doctor uses processes to diagnose and cure an illness ,well so does the Geographer . In order to do Geography properly we need to follow a Geographic process. This is known as the Geographic inquiry process.Through it the Geographer:
· Asks a Geographic (spatial) Question?
· Acquires Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
· Explores the Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
· Analyses the Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
· Makes conclusions and Acts on the Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
It needs to be noted that this process is not a sequential or linear process. The Geographer will upon acquiring different data or information go back and change the Geographic question and acting on geographic conclusions will generate new Spatial or geographic questions .
However in order to follow this process and work as a true geographer we need to have access to a Geographical or spatial toolkit. this is the unique skill set of the Geographer.
These are the skills that Geographers take into the workforce.Geographers look at issues from a wide perspective and develop a range of skills that are attractive to a very broad range of future employers. Specific technical skills directly relevant to geography-related careers include field work, research and report writing, preparing maps and diagrams, and using social survey and interpretative methods.
Geography graduates are also adept in collecting and analysing information using various technical and laboratory-based methods for the collection and analysis of spatial and environmental information (e.g. GIS, remote sensing and mathematical modelling) and recognising the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries.