GAW Day 2: Human Geography

Although definitions vary, most agree that human geography focuses on the interactions between humans and their environment, and the spatial relationships that define and are defined by those interactions. Human geography has many sub-disciplines, from cultural geography to urban geography to historical geography and many others (Wikipedia lists 18 fields of Human Geography, and that’s not even all of them).

Human geographers study an amazing myriad of topics. For example, a human geographer might study the patterns of behavior for people who live in areas prone to natural hazards, like volcanoes or earthquakes. Or, an urban geographer might look at how the gentrification of a neighborhood changes its sense of community identity. An economic geographer might want to investigate the role of multinational corporations in building a global economy, and its impact on indigenous peoples.

To complicate matters further, human geographers often apply an interdisciplinary approach to their research, combining geographic theory and methods with those of other academic disciplines such as economics, history, or political science. Human geography touches on so many aspects of the spatial relationships that define our everyday lives that it would be impossible to mention them all. Geography really is part of all of our lives, even if we are not aware of it.

Further Resources on Human Geography
(these are just a tiny sample of the many resources available to learn more about Human Geography)


  • Hartshorn, T. A. 1991. Interpreting the City: an urban geography. Wiley.
  • Johnston, R. J. et al. 2000. Dictionary of Human Geography. London: Blackwell.
  • Meinig, D. W., ed. 1979. Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes. New York: Oxford UP.
  • Rubenstein, James M. 2004. The Cultural Landscape: an introduction to Human Geography. New York: Prentice Hall, 8th edition.
  • Journals

  • Progress in Human Geography (available in many university and college libraries, either in print or through online databases)
  • Video

  • Human Geography: People, Places, and Change (produced by the BBC)