It is the task of Geography to identify spatial systems on earth and to categorize, as well as genetically, causally and functionally analyse and assess them. Geography also deals with the natural landscape or environment, as well as with the cultural landscape or with the anthropogenically-shaped environment, and thus also the social environment. Geography occupies and interlinks natural as well as humanistic and social scientific fields, and therefore holds a central position among all subjects that deal with the ‘System Earth’.
Geography can be subdivided into Physical Geography with geomorphology, climate geography, soil and botanical geography, and into Human Geography (also referred to as ‘Anthropogeography’, ‘Cultural Geography’ or ‘Economic and Social Geography’) with social geography, population geography, economic geography, settlement geography, geography of leisure behaviour and tourism, transport geography, political geography and historical geography. There are numerous overlaps between all the aforementioned branches of geography.
Although Physical Geography and Human Geography have evolved into separate disciplines, they work together closely in the solution of problems. Therefore, basic knowledge of the respective other focus of the subject is essential and is provided in all degree programmes in geography at the University of Würzburg in the early semesters. Human beings are involved in the daily intervention in and change of the environment. The various problems and tasks, which, for instance, arise from climate change or demographic change, can only be solved, and equitable access to resources for all people on earth ensured, by integrative thinking.
As Geography has an interdisciplinary orientation, there is a close cooperation with various other disciplines. A geographer helping to combat famine in Africa is able to seek solutions together with doctors, nutritionists and hydrologists while another geographer collaborates with architects and traffic planners to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities of less developed countries.
The implementation of geographic knowledge in society, economy, administration and politics is the task of Applied Geography. Spatially relevant factors and developments have to be identified, analysed and assessed, followed by the elaboration of practical solutions for the preparation and implementation of entrepreneurial, planning and political decisions.
Utilizing computers greatly expanded and improved the variety of methods which help to apprehend and assess spatial systems in the past years. Here, Geographic Remote Sensing or the use of Geographic Information Systems have to be mentioned, for example, yet also classical devices such as barometric altimeters or geodetic measurement equipment still are often employed. Aside from Physical Geography, also Human Geography benefits from technical evolution, for example by preparing and evaluating large data volumes, that have been created based on a survey, with the help of special programs. Therefore, geoinformatics and geostatistics are also taught to impart essential key qualifications in the IT sector and the quantitative data analysis to students. Apart from those fields and in particular for the teaching degree programmes, there is the didactics of geography, which focuses on geographic educational goals for schools, the communication processes as characteristic of geography lessons, applicable methods for setting teaching and learning objectives and the media that is relevant for school lessons. Concurrently, didactics also provides valuable services for the application-oriented degree programmes as it imparts questions of both didactics of planning and methods of geographic communication.