How to save the world

Work­ing to limit the ef­fects of cli­mate change is one of the op­tions for those who wish to pur­sue ge­og­ra­phy

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - H Ra­machan­dran

To­day, ge­og­ra­phy has a lot of ap­pli­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties in di­verse ar­eas rang­ing from ex­plo­ration, in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions/ geopol­i­tics to mil­i­tary ge­og­ra­phy, dis­as­ter man­age­ment, nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment, data min­ing and anal­y­sis, cli­mate change and global warm­ing. It is a lot more than re­mem­ber­ing the names of rivers, moun­tains and cap­i­tal cities just as his­tory is a much more than merely mem­o­ris­ing chronol­ogy and the dates of events. These two dis­ci­plines de­fine the two ba­sic co­or­di­nates of all events - that of space and time. There are few sub­jects in uni­ver­si­ties to­day that pro­vide such a wide range of in­for­ma­tion and un­der­stand­ing of the world around us. There is some­thing for ev­ery in­ter­est.

Ge­og­ra­phy as a sub­ject is chal­leng­ing. It not only im­proves one’s knowl­edge of the world, but also pro­vides room for cre­ativ­ity. It is not static and real world changes keep up­dat­ing the knowl­edge base of the dis­ci­pline.

Ge­og­ra­phy as a dis­ci­pline is uniquely placed since its con­tents in­clude seg­ments of phys­i­cal sciences and hu­man­i­ties. Both at the un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate lev­els, it is listed ei­ther un­der the hu­man­i­ties or sci­ence fac­ulty, de­pend­ing on the em­pha­sis in the course con­tent. For ex­am­ple, a BSc in ge­og­ra­phy would in­clude cour­ses on ge­o­mor­phol­ogy, oceanog­ra­phy, cli­ma­tol­ogy, nat­u­ral re­sources, etc, while a BA de­gree would of­fer ba­sic cour­ses in phys­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy, but stress more on eco­nomic ge­og­ra­phy, hu­man set­tle­ments, ur­ban/ ru­ral ge­og­ra­phy, his­tor­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy, geo­graph­i­cal thought and the like. In ad­di­tion, ei­ther stream would in­clude a course on quan­ti­ta­tive anal­y­sis and car­tog­ra­phy (map­ping). Be­sides these, un­der­grad­u­ate cour­ses also in­clude tourism, re­gional plan­ning, dis­as­ter man­age­ment, and de­vel­op­ment stud­ies. Cour­ses in quan­ti­ta­tive meth­ods, car­tog­ra­phy, map in­ter­pre­ta­tion, field­work, so­cial sur­veys, re­port writ­ing, GIS (ge­o­graphic in­for­ma­tion sys­tems) and re­mote sens­ing equip stu­dents with hands-on skills that give them a pro­fes­sional edge.

The stress on prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion sets ge­og­ra­phy apart from other sub­jects and also de­vel­ops the skills to ap­ply the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge to real world sit­u­a­tions from the very be­gin­ning.

In the past few years, new off­shoot cour­ses such as geoin­for­mat­ics have been in­tro­duced at the mas­ter’s level in some In­dian uni­ver­si­ties (Os­ma­nia Univer­sity in Hy­der­abad, Madu­rai Ka­ma­raj Univer­sity) and a few abroad.

Skill set

Ba­sic skills re­quired are the abil­ity to iso­late sim­i­lar­i­ties and di­ver­si­ties, ob­ser­va­tional skills, the abil­ity to cre­ate men­tal maps and ab­strac­tion, and the abil­ity to un­ravel the re­la­tion­ship be­tween phys­i­cal and hu­man at­tributes. It is im­por­tant to have an abil­ity to an­a­lyse, cor­re­late and syn­the­sise as well as to write clearly and co­gently.

Ca­reer op­tions

The op­tions would dif­fer for those who seek a ca­reer af­ter the first de­gree and those who stay on for a sec­ond de­gree plus add-on cour­ses. With rapid ad­vances in re­mote sens­ing and GIS tech­nolo­gies in re­cent years and the use of maps in many ar­eas, the ca­reer op­tions have been ex­pand­ing. How­ever, most ge­og­ra­phers en­ter ca­reers in ad­min­is­tra­tion and teach­ing. There is a lot of de­mand for good ge­og­ra­phy teach­ers at all lev­els.

Tourism and travel man­age­ment, cen­sus map­ping, the armed forces and jobs with an en­vi­ron­men­tal di­men­sion are all open to ge­og­ra­phers. Ge­og­ra­phy is an at­trac­tive av­enue for stu­dents on the civil-ser­vice route - at least two stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Delhi’s ge­og­ra­phy depart­ment have cracked the higher civil ser­vices ex­ams and state civil ser­vices each year in the re­cent past with a sig­nif­i­cant show­ing of six suc­cess­ful stu­dents a cou­ple of years ago. De­fence ser­vices with a tech­ni­cal bent are an­other op­tion (I re­call a fe­male stu­dent who was se­lected as a com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer in the In­dian Army in the ed­u­ca­tion corps and an­other in a cam­pus in­ter­view (with MA ge­og­ra­phy and physics back­ground by the In­dian Air Force).

COLUMBIA PIC­TURES

Act now: The Hol­ly­wood block­buster 2012 re­volves around the oft-beaten theme of the world com­ing to an end thanks to a mul­ti­tude of dis­as­ters. The study of ge­og­ra­phy can help you un­der­stand our ev­er­chang­ing planet

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