Geography forms a part of social sciences and is one of the social sciences which is now heading towards a scientific form.
Change is the law of nature and change is the fundamental of development and progress.
Geography has passed through many stages and it was only in 1905 that geography was accorded an important place in the curriculum. Prof. A.Z. Herbertson contributed a lot in this development of geography.
Nowadays geography means description of earth. But since earth is full of various things which could not be studied in isolation and it is quite difficult to describe everything we find on earth.
Thus to overcome these difficulties certain principles have been formulated which are quite useful for us in the study of earth with its relevant factors. These days an attempt is made to study earth as the home of man.
Keeping this in view Prof E.A. Macnee has defined geography, “so, to give more explicit definition, Geography is the study of earth as the home of man or in other words geography is the study of the environment of man; physical, social, particularly in its relation to human activities”.
Prof. J. Fairgrieve defines Geography as, “The function of geography is to train future citizens to imagine accurately the conditions of the great world stage and so to help them to think safely about political and social problems in the world around”
However Prof. Fairgrieve later on revised his definition of geography so as to include the developing subject matter of geography. He then defined geography, “Geography is the science which treats the relation between earth and man “, “and Geography is the science which treats the influence on the man of local conditions and space relations.”
According to Prof. L. Dudley stamp, “Geography is a description of the world and of its inhabitants”.
In this definition we find that human factor is taken into consideration and thus in geography we not only study physical factors and environment but it also includes the studies of human activities carried out in relation to environment. Thus “Geography is the study of the changes and the development”.
The changes that occur are well reflected in the face of the nature, formation of human beings and animals. Thus geography makes a study of various factors that have brought about these changes, development and downfall of the civilization of the world.
According to Edmund Burke, “Geography is an earthly subject but a heavenly science”.
According to E.G. Steal, “Geography is the science of initiative, for by means of it we establish our relations with the world and without it we may easily lag behind in the march of progress”.
Prof. Unstead defines geography, “Geography is the science which investigates macro-organism and space relationships of its component parts”.
From this definition it becomes quite clear that geography is the science which studies different stages and parts of the living beings of this world in relation to their local relations. It emphasizes the local conditions and in view of this, “Geography deals with actions and reactions that occur within the hydrosphere”.
However it is a narrow definition because land is not influenced by water only. Many other factors also influence the life on the earth. Taking all such other factors into consideration L. Dudley stamp stated, “The old geography worked from effect to cause, Modem Geography Works from cause to effect”.
It can be said that geography is a science of sciences. Botany deals with the study of plants, zoology deals with the study of animal life. Astronomy is the study of heavenly bodies and geology makes an effort to explain the structure of earth.
Geography synthesizes all these sciences (viz Botany, Zoology, Astronomy, and Geology) as far as the evolution of man in the universe is concerned. In fact Modern Geography is a combination of art and science. It “has certain relationship with other social sciences and its scope of study is quite broad.