Big questions geographers ask (and try to answer!)

Posted on May 24th, 2010 by

The National Research Council recently published a report that defines 11 major geographical science questions for the next decade. The  questions are not only intellectually interesting, but have significant import for the way we and our children will live. Of the questions below, can you figure out which are the 11 questions this geographical committee decided on? (Four are not on the list.) Which question do you find most intriguing? What other questions might geographers ask?

1. How are we changing the physical environment of Earth’s surface?

2. How can we best preserve biological diversity and protect endangered ecosystems?

3. How are climate and other environmental changes affecting the vulnerabilities of coupled human-environment systems?

4. What is the capital of Tajikistan?

5. Where and how will 10 billion people live?

6. How will we sustainably feed everyone in the coming decade and beyond?

7. How does where we live affect our health?

8. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

9. How is the movement of people, goods, and ideas changing the world?

10. How is economic globalization affecting inequality?

11. How are geopolitical shifts influencing peace and stability?

12. How might we better observe, analyze, and visualize a changing world?

13. Why does resizing a map data frame in ArcGIS data layout view have to be so irksome?

14. What are the societal implications of citizen mapping and mapping citizens?

15. Which adjective is more correct: geographic or geographical?

Okay, so questions 4, 8, 13 and 15 may be questions that geographers ask from time to time, but they don’t count as “big” questions.


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