Geography is a diverse discipline that has some sort of connection to most every other academic discipline. This connection is the spatial perspective, which essentially means if a phenomenon can be mapped, it has some kind of relationship to geography. Studying the entire world is a fascinating subject, and geographical knowledge is fundamental to a competent understanding of our world. In this chapter, you will learn what geography is as well as some of the fundamental concepts that underpin the discipline. These fundamental terms and concepts will be interwoven throughout the text, so a sound understanding of these topics is critical as you delve deeper into the chapters that follow.
This book is about how to read, use, and create maps. Our exploration of maps will be informed by a contextual understanding of how maps reflect the relationship between society and technology, and how mapping is an essential form of scientific and artistic inquiry. We will also explore how mapping is used to address a variety of societal issues, such as land use planning and political gerrymandering. You will gain insight into the technical underpinnings of mapping as a science approach, complement on-going interest and activities, or provide an applied focus for research or policy.
Rather than present students with a broad, novice-level introduction to geography, emphasizing places and vocabulary terms, this text approaches geography as experts understand the discipline, focusing on connections and an in-depth understanding of core themes. This thematic approach, informed by pedagogical research, provides students with an introduction to thinking geographically. Instead of repeating the same several themes each chapter, this text emphasizes depth over breadth by arranging each chapter around a central theme and then exploring that theme in detail as it applies to the particular region. In addition, while chapters are designed to stand alone and be rearranged or eliminated at the instructor's discretion, the theme of globalization and inequality unites all of the regions discussed. This core focus enables students to draw connections between regions and to better understand the interconnectedness of our world. Furthermore, the focus on both globalization and inequality helps demonstrate the real-world application of the concepts discussed. Colonialism, for instance, rather than a historical relict, becomes a force that has shaped geography and informs social justice. This thematic approach is also intended to facilitate active learning and would be suitable for a flipped or team-based learning-style course since it more easily integrates case studies and higher-order thinking than the traditional model.