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Geography, its Evolution and Future Synthesis Essay

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Updated: May 27th, 2020

Introduction and background

Geography is the study of the earth and the natural features that characterize it. It deals on matters of land, inhabitants and the natural processes that shape the earth including atmospheric phenomena.

It is through geography that we can get information on land features such as mountains, valleys, faults and many others. Geography can also give information on the behaviour of human beings and animals in response to natural phenomena.

The study of geography is divided into different categories. However it is not clear on the number of the subdivisions of geography. This is because many authors have come up with different ways of dividing this subject. However there are some books which divide geography into broad categories. Some of the branches include physical geography, human geography and environmental geography.

Physical geography deals with the natural features of the earth such as mountains, valleys and topography among others. Human geography covers issues such as settlement and the effects of natural phenomena to the population. Environmental geography deals with environmental issues that may affect the natural behaviours of faunal and floral populations.

This research is about general geography, its history in the past one hundred years and how it has helped determine the behavioural changes the earth has undergone during this period. It also hypothesizes the possible future of geography in the next one century. The research explains how geography will be used as a tool to predict future events.

The events discussed here could either be dangerous or advantageous to the surrounding environment. The reasons for these hypotheses are also given in the report together with a few specific examples of some recent natural phenomena.

History of geography

The first person to use this term was Eratosthenes (Strong, 1998). Eratosthenes was the chief librarian of the popular Library of Alexandria, during the 3rd century. However, Eratosthenes was not the first person to apply the rudimentary features of geography since most people had unknowingly applied geographical features before then.

Ever since the advent of the theory of continental drift by the famous geoscientist Alfred Wegener in 1912, geography has continued to be a popular subject of choice across the globe. In the U.S however, there had been a general decline of popularity in this subject. In the recent past from the last 50 years, the usage and comprehension of this subject had been gradually diminishing.

For instance, studies between nine nations during late 1980 revealed that American students in the 18-24 year bracket came in at the last place. Before then teachers at college level detected the lack of interest in specifically geography among American students and began a spirited effort to increase literacy in the subject thereafter (Strong, 1998).

Brief history of the earth

More than 200 million years ago, according to Wegener, the earth consisted of one large land mass called Pangaea. The Pangaea split into two land masses. The northern land mass was named Laurasia while the south moving continent was named Gondwanaland.

This study has been able to be substantiated by matching of the adjacent coasts of the continent. For instance, the entire western coast of Africa can fit almost perfectly to the eastern coast of South America in a jigsaw (Bamber, 2001)

Development of geographic academies

In the period within the first 50 years of the 20th century, the academics of geography had increased to higher levels. There were various studies that focused more on smaller regions compared to preceding geographic studies. Most of this studies utilized methods that described field methodologies to test research questions. Geography and its related research shifted in its methodology around 1950 (Pidwirny, 2006).

Its shift was from ancient methods to more scientific approaches. Basically these approaches were based on quantitative techniques. This was then termed as quantitative revolution. The revolution was related in some way, to the methods in which the researchers studied the earth and the processes occurring within the earth.

Rather than just describing the events in question, geographers began investigating processes that cause natural geographic phenomena and currently this quantitative methodology is still gaining popularity especially with the input of computer technology.

In the past 100 years, several events of geographic importance have occurred. The earth has continued to be shaped physically through processes like earthquakes and volcanic activities. The recent Haiti earthquake attests to this fact. The continental and oceanic plate boundaries have been moving either in collision, apart or sliding past each other. This is known as the theory of continental drift.

The Great Rift Valley in Africa, for example is moving apart and it may soon be filled with either oceanic water or lava or both. Geographic and geologic projections have been able to predict the time it will take for this to occur.

Currently the study of geography has enabled the use of computer technology in disciplines such as geomatics and cartography. This has led to the present use of digital maps. Examples of digital maps can be found in Google maps and several other internet search engines.

The emergence of some technologies such as geographic information system has been known to use a lot of geography. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other gadgets have gained increasing popularity by combining Information Technology with geography.

The modern Geography

Earth scientists like William Pattison, have written articles in the Journal of Geography to suggest the composition of modern geography to include spatial tradition, area studies tradition, human land tradition and earth science traditions (Pidwirny, 2006). The study of geography in the next 100 years is projected to be applied to various fields.

Geographic studies have shown that there will be a rise in sea level, and also the coastal stability will decrease (Waugh, 2000) in the near future. This has been substantiated by accurate projections using graphs and available historical data. The success of the research has shown that geography can be used in several disciplines to solve environmental issues, human conflicts and atmospheric issues.

The use of geography in technology

The utility of geography in these fields has also gained popularity in the recent past. This means that geography in the next century will be a formidable tool in solving many issues above and beyond. This is because the subject has proved to be more and more indispensable to the modern world. As an example, we have phones that use Global Positioning System to locate people.

These gadgets are also used to locate stolen vehicles. A device that transmits signals is installed in an automobile. If this vehicle is stolen, its navigation can be monitored and then tracked by the use of a receiver that interprets the signals to indicate the position of the motor vehicle. Thus geography has gained use in security sector.

GIS technology

GIS has been used to refer to that part of geography that studies the surface of the earth using software. Organizations such as the Esri community have come up with software which is currently being used for purposes of location, georeferencing, and geodata management. GIS software has also been used in civil engineering and in military purposes (Elkins, 2010).

One of the aims of this organization is that it hopes to be able to advance its software so that it can find its application to subsurface earth studies. As an example, Esri hopes to be able to monitor mining activities in the underground with its software technology. Currently the software can only project dimensions of particular features in the subsurface environment.

GIS deals with reality models such that it describes geographic objects in relation to their space (Egenhofer et al, 1994). The GIS technology has also enabled the use of algorithm in Geography to describe regions known as holes on the earth.

Hypothesis of future use of geography

To hypothesize on the usage of geography in the next century is quite an easy task. This is so especially because geography together with technology is now being used literally in every aspect of life. First of all it has been established that geography can be used hand in hand with several other disciplines to solve many issues.

Geography has gained wide usage when combined with mathematics, physics, chemistry, social sciences and languages among others. This means that it is increasingly becoming a bridge-discipline. That is to say that in the near future, it will act as a discipline of reference by other subjects.

Geography has gained usage in the study of planetary science such that science has been able to establish the behaviour of planets, stars, satellites and other heavenly bodies through geography. The current studies about global warming base their arguments on the foundations of geography.

Natural hazards such as flooding, landslides, volcanic activities, earthquakes and many others base most of their facts on geographical information. In modern times, geography has been used to foretell a natural phenomenon by simple calculations of time which when worked backwards can predict events such as earthquakes and volcanic activities.

A good example is that geography together with geology was used by American professors to predict the infamous Haiti earthquake. If the Haiti people had taken it seriously, perhaps the magnitude of the suffering would have been greatly reduced. In future therefore, geography will be used to predict and forewarn us on events and be able to advice accordingly.


If we consider all the information given in this work concerning geography, its history and development, we will come to conclude that rudimentary speaking; geography is the study of how earth processes are distributed through space and time. Formulating this definition is entirely based on the facts which have been put forward in this paper.

Human geography determines how natural phenomena tend to affect the behaviour of human beings in relation to the environment. On the other hand physical geography tries to explain the reasons why natural processes follow a particular pattern in space and time.

Reference List

Bamber, B. (2001). . Web.

Egenhofer et al, (1994). Topological relations between regions with holes, International Journal of Geographic Information Systems 8 (2): 129-144, 1994.

Elkins, R. (2010). ArcGis. Web.

Pidwirny, M. (2006). , 2nd Edition. Web.

Strong, W. (1998). A brief history of geography, Department of Geography, University of North Alabama. Web.

Waugh, D. (2000). , 3rd edition, Nelson Thornes. Web.

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