Why Is Geography Considered a Science?

Geography is considered a science because it uses the scientific method and upholds scientific principles and logic. Inventions such as the compass, geographic information systems, global positioning systems and remote sensing would not have been possible without geography.

Geographical discoveries, including the north and south poles, the earth’s magnetism, and rotation and revolution were made through observations, hypothesis and experimental testing.

The study of geography as a science underwent a transformation in the late 1950s due in part to the work of Kurt Schaefer, a German professor at the University of Iowa, who published a 1953 paper that attempted to redefine the notion of geography in scientific terms. Prior to Schaefer’s paper, the common belief was that geography was mainly focused on sociological relationships. This belief undermined the effect that the study of geography had on the scientific community at the time.

Schaefer’s paper defined geography as the study of the natural processes that shaped the physical features of the Earth. Schaefer’s work, along with others, led to a shift in how geography was practiced and studied. Geography became more scientifically rigorous and began to use quantitative methods. These changes to the study, practice and focus of geography would make it greater appreciated and more useful.