The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Human geography

If you’ve been wondering at the rudimentary state of knowledge revealed herein, and curious what I am in fact an expert at, look no further. I am, (besides a maths major) an Honours graduate from the Australian National University’s protracted Human Ecology program. Or Human Sciences. Or Human Geography. Whatever it was called in the year I left their company.

The lady I just explained this at a party too responded with “Geography? you mean, maps and things? My, you can get degrees in anything these days!”. For some reason I found that more vexing than the bloke on the train who summarised of economics as “accountants and stuff”.

Human [Sciences|Ecology|Geography], where I did it, is a transdisciplinary study that attempts of economics, sociology, ecology, evolutionary biology anthropology and yes, maps and things, to study human adaptation to diverse environments. Does that sound foolishly broad? I think it does. A gruelling endeavour, that program, permitting of profound insight and a shallow speculation and leaving it up to you to work out the difference.

I think of it as the converse of economics - where economics (broadly) is about where equilibria are, human geography is about the details of how societies get to equilibria (or: don’t). How do innovations diffuse? What social institutions make it go? How do those institutions form, and why? How are our scarce resources deployed, conserved, cycled? A big grab bag of tools to work out how to function on a finite planet, under the assumption that just leaving it be might be unpleasant.

Oh, yes, and there are great field trips.