Geography : Overview

Department of Geography

Contact Information

College of Arts and Sciences
105 Wilkeson Quad
Ellicott Complex
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14261

Phone: 716.645.2722
Fax: 716.645.2329
Web Address:
Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen
Peter A. Rogerson
Director of Undergraduate Studies


Geography is primarily concerned with the locations and arrangements in space of human and natural phenomena, and with the interrelationships between people, businesses, public and social institutions, and their spatial environments. Geographers, therefore, are interested in such topics as human perception and behavior; the location of industry and business; mobility and transportation; urban growth and development; regional planning and policy study; physical and ecological environments; interactions of people and places over space and time; and the diffusion of information, commodities, and ideas.

Over the years, geography has developed four major traditions or interrelated approaches. The first tradition is a spatial tradition, with a focus on the importance of distance, direction, position, pattern, and movement as concepts worthy of study themselves, whatever the subject matter. The second tradition is that of area studies, which takes as its objective the characterization and differentiation of places through a thorough accounting of all of the places' aspects and attributes. The third tradition is through a human-land tradition, which, as the name implies, entails a focus upon the interrelationships and interactions between people and their environment. The fourth tradition is the earth-science tradition, which involves a focus upon the study of the earth, the atmosphere, climate, and the living world.

Geographers represent geographic space with maps, and thus geographers are very concerned with map use and design. The design of maps may often involve the application of cognitive psychology, statistics, and mathematics. The development of Geographic Information Systems has revolutionized the mapping of statistics and made possible the rapid production of specialized maps for decision makers.

Because of these wide interests, geographers must acquire training in quantitative methods, field techniques, computer technology, data handling and analysis, cartographic displays and production, and written and verbal communication skills. In addition, interdisciplinary work often is necessary in other disciplines such areas as economics, computer science, sociology, mathematics, marketing, statistics, information systems, and environmental sciences.

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:11 EST