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Welcome to the Geography Department Web Site!

Geography is the study of the earth as the home of humanity - including both its human and physical characteristics.  In their quest to understand the earth and its processes, geographers first ask where things are located, but more importantly, they seek to answer why these distributions occur.

Eratosthenes, a 3rd century B.C.E. librarian, is considered to be the first person to use the term “Geography”; however, Geography was practiced long before the ancient Greeks.  People have always needed a spatial perspective in order to provide food and shelter for themselves.  They needed “mental maps” to travel and trade.  And so, Geography as a discipline is as old as human history.

Five Themes of Geography
Whether you take the World Regional, Physical, Cultural, GIS, or any of the other Geography classes that we offer at Orange Coast College, your coursework will incorporate the five themes of Geography:
  1. Location – Where is it located?
  2. Place – What is it like there?
  3. Human / Environment Interactions 
       - Human adaptations, modifications, dependence on the environment
  4.  Movement – How did it get there?  Where is it going?  Why did it move?
       - Diffusion of people, goods and ideas
  5. Regions – Classification of areas that are based on similar characteristics
       - Formal, functional, vernacular

Geographic Literacy
Geography continues to be an exciting and relevant area of study, particularly with the rapid globalization of today’s world.  Yet, study after study indicates that Americans, in particular, have a poor grasp of the world outside of the United States.  According to a National Geographic Survey in 2006, despite the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the War on Terror, and a catastrophic tsunami, many young Americans (ages 18-24) could not find the following locations on a map:
  • Afghanistan - 88%
  • Iran or Israel - 75%
  • Indonesia - 75%
  • North Korea - 70%
  • Iraq or Saudi Arabia - 63%
  • New York - 50%
Download the complete survey and report (PDF)

In addition to poor geographical literacy, the study revealed that young Americans (ages 18 – 24) also scored poorly on questions pertaining to global awareness.
  • 74% believe that English is the world’s most widely spoken native language (correct answer:  Mandarin)
  • 48% believe that the U.S.A. is the world’s largest exporter (correct answer:  China)
  • 32% would miss a conference call with colleagues who are located in another time zone

In order to remain competitive in an increasingly interconnected and global society, geographical literacy and global awareness is absolutely critical.

Remember, without Geography you’re nowhere!