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This concentration focuses on the aspects of geography that relate to different cultures, with an emphasis on cultural origins and movement and the cultural characteristics of regions (e.g., language, religion, ethnicity, politics, historical development, agricultural methods, settlement patterns, and quality of life). Cultural ecology—the ways in which humans have interacted with their cultural and natural environment at various times—is also included. There is a strong relationship between cultural geography, anthropology, and archaeology.
Cultural geographers often try to reconstruct past environments, and to do so they must be equally skilled in library research, field observation, and the interpretation of cultural artifacts. Historical geographers are interested in recreating the geography of past times. In doing this, they work closely with historians and archivists, contributing much to the understanding of present-day geography.
Courses in this area include historical geography, cultural geography, cultural ecology, human geography, human use of the earth, and humanity and nature. Many cultural and human geographers are area specialists as well, which means that they focus their attention on a specific region, such as Latin America, Europe, or Asia. Because they often carry out field observation in other countries, they will usually need good foreign-language backgrounds.
The United States continues to send volunteers to foreign nations to help them develop their human and natural resources. The pay is low, but the opportunity to provide a valuable service to humankind is unparalleled. Hundreds of geographers have served in the Peace Corps, and geography training is an excellent preparation for volunteers. Language training is necessary, as is knowledge of the host country’s history, economic and political systems, and educational and social background.
Many communities have drawn up plans for the redevelopment of their town centers, often with federal assistance. These areas are being rebuilt with an eye to history: research into the earlier nature of the downtown area is carried out, and that architectural and economic information is then woven into the development plan. Redevelopment programs, among them a very promising one called Main Street, U.S.A., use the expertise of geographers, historians, politicians, economists, and businesspeople.
Maps are, of course, valuable in everyday life, but they also have considerable historical significance and can tell us a lot about the geography of the past. Large numbers of maps are produced by the government, and these are sent to document depositories in major libraries. Map librarians work with maps in the same way that librarians do books. They describe, classify, and catalog maps available for use by scholars and the general public. Most large public libraries and many major universities employ map librarians.
If you would like more information about geography at Plattsburgh State, please contact
Dr. Edwin Romanowicz, Director, Center for Earth and Environmental Science
Office: Hudson Hall 132
Phone: (518) 564-2028
Toll-Free Phone: (877) 554-1041