What is Geography?
The discipline of geography is concerned primarily with three aspects of the earth: (1) the physical characteristics and processes of the earth's surface and atmosphere; (2) the activities of people that have modified the natural landscape; and (3) the order and the disorder of cultural landscapes. Tools of the physical, biological, and social sciences are used to analyze these varied phenomena.
A geographer is concerned with the shape, origins and development of natural landscapes, and with the institutions and patterns associated with peoples use of these landscapes. This information helps the geographer to understand the nature and direction of future landscape change.
The increasingly complex problems of contemporary urban and rural America have produced a demand for professional geographers. A geographer sees and understands the world and is concerned with the dynamics of changes that have made that world, and helps to chart future growth through rational development.
The basic tools of geography are maps. UNCW is a government repository for federal maps. In addition, the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences has a growing map collection for use in a variety of courses. Recently computers have become important tools for geographers. The department maintains in-house computer laboratories for cartography, Geographic Information Systems, and digital image processing. These labs provide tools for the analysis of physical phenomena and human activity and the production of thematic and general purpose maps.