General Background

Geography is an academic discipline concerned with understanding the physical and human process that shape the face of the earth.
Geographers also have a special interest in examining spatial differentiation: why things exist where they do. This leads to geography relating to many contemporary processes such as accelerated urban growth, globalization, environmental issues, global warming and climate change, resource depletion and the transformation of the landscape over time.

Key Themes
Environmental Management, Planning and Policy: this deals with physical and anthropogenic influences on the environment using social, economic planning and technological approaches to limit detrimental effects. Particular attention is paid to policy  tools for reducing consumption, preventing resource conflicts, increasing resilience to climate change etc. Key areas of interest are water, energy and food  security. This program brings together students and faculty from varied backgrounds but with a common interest in environmental issues

Urban Geography and Planning: with the majority of the world's population living in urban areas, this is a central focus of study and research. The main areas of knowledge relate to urbanization, city formation and growth, systems of cities and  interactions between urban places of different sizes, the internal structure of cities including infrastructure such as transportation and telecommunications, cities as a factor in globalization, land and housing markets in the city and urban behavior in cities. More advanced studies relate directly to the urban planning profession including dedicated study in the areas of planning law, design, planning studios, social planning and planning processes.

Geoinformatics: the digital revolution has also transformed the way spatial data is collected and analyzed. Geography has been at the cutting edge of a new technology (GIS- geographical information systems) dedicated to storing, analyzing and visualizing spatial data at a scale and quality hitherto unprecedented. Key topics of study in this field relate to acquiring the computing skills to be able to handle this new technology, understanding the importance of different spatial scales, applying these skills to key areas of geographical study such as environment, transport, housing and planning.  

The Physical Environment: natural processes have a great effect on defining the landscape. These processes can be climatic, biological, terrestrial . hydrological and geomorphological. Of course, human (anthropological) activity also needs to be taken into account as it can complement or exacerbate natural processes through intricate feedback processes. These are studied using the analytic toolbox of the geographer than includes GIS, remote sensing and satellite imagery, statistical analytics, field surveys and dedicated study sites.       

Historical and Cultural Geographies: approach the study of landscape and spatial differentiation form a generally qualitative and humanistic perspective. They are interested in discovering how spatial patterns  and cultural practice from the past affect contemporary life. The scale of analysis can cover the global, regional or local scales. In many instances geography combines with other disciplines, such as archeology, history of art and architecture to piece together knowledge from the past and  generate lessons for the future. For example, learning about the effect of historical global climatic change on cities in earlier eras can inform out understanding of contemporary responses to this issue.    

Political Geography: this area looks at the role political processes affect the human and social landscape. Political processes occur at various scales from the global level of geo-politics down to the local level of urban and neighborhood representation. The study of political geography is also related to the study of institutions and policies that promote political change. These can be inherently spatial and related to particular countries societies and cities. As politics also governs the allocation of scarce resources to different groups and places the development of place cannot be understood without reference to its political development.