Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

What is Geography?

The easiest way to describe Geography is the study of the world we live in - the environment, people, places, and landscapes. ‘Geo’ means that it is of or related to the Earth. Geographers have a unique approach to studying the Earth because they look at it from a spatial perspective, and examine both the social (Human Geography) and natural (Physical Geography) components of the world.

Human Geography focuses on understanding cultures, societies and economies - from single customs and traditions to international cooperation and integration. Physical Geography is concerned with the dynamics of the natural environment, including water bodies, landscapes, depletion of valuable resources, and climate change.

Geographic Techniques provide powerful tools, such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems), for understanding the interconnectedness and interdependence of societies and nature. These tools allow Geographers to analyze and map the spatial patterns and distributions of both social and natural elements of our world.

Geography also puts a strong emphasis on place. It is important for Geographers to understand social and natural processes within the context of a place. Why do two places develop differently? What are the connections between the natural environment, political systems, economies and cultures in any one place?

Geography provides a structure for integrating many disciplines, and examining the interconnectedness of those disciplines. This includes fields of study in both the social and natural sciences - Geology, Anthropology, Sociology, Environmental Science, Natural Resource Management and Economics, to name a few.

In your day-to-day life, Geography is everywhere. It helps us to make sense of our increasingly complex world, become more socially and environmentally aware, and prepares us to be informed citizens at both a local and global scale.

Academic Certificate & Transferable Credits

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Certificate

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is one of the top emerging industries in the 21st century. It combines cartography, spatial analysis and data management to support research and inform decision making. The Geography Department offers a Less than One Year GIS Certificate that combines GIS theory, technology, and real-world experience. Read more about the GIS Certificate program. See the catalog for information regarding program requirements.

Transferable Credits

Geography courses are lower division collegiate courses that transfer to a four-year college or university. Geography courses may transfer as:

  • elective courses
  • program requirement credits
  • and/or graduation requirements for the receiving institution

Students are encouraged to check with the receiving institution, a PCC academic advisor, and the University Transfer website for the most accurate transfer requirement information.