Just like the face of the Earth and the organisms that inhabit it change, the subject of geography too has changed over time, and continues to do so in order to stay relative and useful. Modern geography has gone through 4 major phases: regional geography, environmental determinism, critical geography, and quantitative revolution.
Environmental determinism is the belief that the surrounding natural environment directly affects a person’s moral, physical and mental habits. Although environmentally determinist geographers tried to claim it as a science, by the 1930s it was widely seen as bigoted and disregarded by the scientific community.
Regional geography focused on the study of regions. Researchers recorded and collected descriptive information about different areas and divided them into regions. Regional geography was very popular from the 1970s until the mid-1990s and helped many gain a better understanding of how borders not only define places, but cultures as well.
The quantitative revolution started in the 1950s and is the basis for the development of geographic information systems (GIS), which is a system that was built to collect, save, manipulate, examine, manage and create spatial or geographic data. GIS has helped make a geographer’s job a lot easier and can be used in a number of different ways. Organizations that provide services for the homeless can use GIS technology to find hard-to-reach youth populations.
Critical geography was created so researchers can get a better understanding of a person’s relationship and sense of places. Known also as humanistic geography, this form is closely related to social sciences and humanities. It can be used to try to understand why societies oppress certain people and can attempt to use the information to bring about change.