“What kind of professional skills can you get from studying Development Geography?” is a question I am often asked when I try and explain to people what courses I study as a Geographer. Well as it turns out there are numerous things that this area of study can be used for once you graduate and this week’s lecture summed up some of the opportunities perfectly. Various thematic focuses and methods – such as qualitative, quantitative and GIS methods – can be learnt and applied to different professions. For instance, GIS and remote sensing are examples of ways in which you can get involved in work revolving around Development Geography.
If anyone reading this doesn’t know what GIS is, it is an acronym for ‘Geographical Information System’ and is basically a system in which you can map spatial data. For instance, we can map land use and land cover changes, urban growth, and forest cover change which can all be combined to explore water management. Cool right? Remote sensing on the other hand is a way of scanning the earth via satellite or aircraft to gather information about it as in the adjacent image.
Geography is suddenly sounding pretty useful, right?
This lecture was such an eye opener for me, with guest speaker Mika Siljander shining a bright light onto this occupational path I hadn’t even considered. There’s so much environment and development work going on in Africa, like the TAITAWATER project in East Africa which utilises land use mapping in the form of Satellite images, airborne images and vector GIS in order to protect the environment
But you’re not restricted to this kind of imaging. Something I didn’t even know existed was laser scanner data that could make tree models to assess above ground biomass and carbon assessment. Just look how cool that is! Basically, laser scanning creates a 3D image of the environment and can be used to gather data that can aid in analysis and planning of projects.
Of course, these are only a couple of things that you can do with Geography. In truth there are numerous professions you can go into. So if you’re a Geographer don’t sit there worrying about what you can do once you graduate. Even if you aren’t all that interested in the GIS and imaging option don’t be disheartened because there are a lot of other opportunities out there for you!
Images: 1.Petri Pellikka, 2. Mika Siljander, 3. Vuokko Heikinheimo