University of Kwazulu Natal Geography Department

University of Kwazulu Natal Geography Department

University of Kwazulu Natal Geography Department

Geography a Mother of Science

The science of geography is possibly the oldest of all sciences in history. “Geography is the study of the patterns and processes of human (built) and environmental (natural) landscapes, where landscapes comprise real (objective) and perceived (subjective) space.” – Gregg Wassmansdorf, 1995. Studying human, physical and the interaction in between led to other scientific fields such as biology, anthropology, geology, mathematics, astronomy and chemistry, among others. New ideas have always been basic components of geography. Thus, geography is often referred as the “mother of all sciences” The concept of geography has changed throughout the ages, making a definition for such a dynamic and all-encompassing subject difficult. A primary concern of Geography is to study the spatial interaction between people and their environment (physical and socio-economic) from diverse and changing interdisciplinary perspectives. Drawing on the African indigenous knowledge system of Ubuntu – the essence of being human and our shared interconnectedness with each other, animals and nature- it is acknowledged that human well-being and quality of life is a shared undertaking which must respect the ecological limits of a finite planet.

Our modules provide a wide variety of concepts and themes in human and physical geography as well the Geomatics that are studied at higher levels and for the application of these concepts in areas such as rural and urban development, environmental management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Although these concepts and themes can be applied globally, the focus is predominantly on Africa as a spatial context. The African continent is a unique place with diversity of history, knowledge systems, resources and experiences and with a serious need for the resolution of numerous problems and we therefore pay attention to contextual examples from Africa as we cover the module themes. Our undergraduate courses are relevant to future environmental planners, urban and rural planners and managers. At UKZN, the department/cluster of Geography has three main components: Human Geography, Physical Geography and GIS and Earth Observation



Introduction to Human Geography

Human Geography is concerned with (a) understanding the human world and its interaction with physical, built, and symbolic landscapes and (b) using this knowledge to work towards more equitable societies.

The modules provide a broad overview of human geography as a discipline and introduce core concepts used by human geographers, particularly the notion of ‘space’, scale, and the relationships between society and space and between people and the natural environment on which it depends for survival. In this regard, understanding population dynamics and related environmental impacts are crucial.

The modules introduce students to key population concepts theories and systems models to understanding population changes and related impacts. Critically examining population data and trends, such as migration and mobility is also an important focus. Additionally, modules examine the linkages between population growth and environmental issues, including climate change. Building sustainable human environments, for ourselves and future generations, is a key challenge in the world today.  Sustainability themes interrogate key issues such as the definition and measurement of sustainability, the history of the current environmental crises and society’s responses to it.

Furthermore it engages critical thinking about environmental problems, their causes and solutions. The modules engage the contexts of rural and urban environments to highlight the issues related to sustainable environments. Two examples of sustainability concerns relate to the impacts of urban form on the biophysical (and social) environment and secondly, the serious concerns for food security in rural areas as rural communities engage directly with their local environments.



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  • or Call +27 31 260 8596 and follow the voice prompts

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