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Ken Jennings

“The decline of geography in academia is easy to understand: we live in an age of ever-increasing specialization, and geography is a generalist's discipline. Imagine the poor geographer trying to explain to someone at a campus cocktail party (or even to an unsympathetic adminitrator) exactly what it is he or she studies.
"Geography is Greek for 'writing about the earth.' We study the Earth."
"Right, like geologists."
"Well, yes, but we're interested in the whole world, not just the rocky bits. Geographers also study oceans, lakes, the water cycle..."
"So, it's like oceanography or hydrology."
"And the atmosphere."
"Meteorology, climatology..."
"It's broader than just physical geography. We're also interested in how humans relate to their planet."
"How is that different from ecology or environmental science?"
"Well, it encompasses them. Aspects of them. But we also study the social and economic and cultural and geopolitical sides of--"
"Sociology, economics, cultural studies, poli sci."
"Some geographers specialize in different world regions."
"Ah, right, we have Asian and African and Latin American studies programs here. But I didn't know they were part of the geography department."
"They're not."
(Long pause.)
"So, uh, what is it that do study then?”


Ken Jennings
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