IAG Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

About Geography
What is geography?

Geography is the study of place, space and the environment. Geographers investigate the character of places, the distribution of phenomena across space, biophysical processes and features, and dynamic relationships between humans and environments - recognising the great differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across the world, and the links between them. Understanding the nature and causes of differences and inequalities between places and social groups underlie many developments in human geography. Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks to understand the world’s human and physical features.  Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences (human geography) with the natural sciences (physical geography).

What do geographers do?

Geographers seek to understand why the world is the way that it is, and to participate in shaping sustainable futures. Geographers investigate the character of places, the distribution of phenomena across space, biophysical processes and features, and dynamic relationships between humans and environments.  Geographers study where things are and how they got there.

What are some basic concepts in geography?

Three complementary concepts used in geography are:
1. Place. Geographers explore what places mean, how people shape places, and how places shape our lives. This brings many areas of geography together in an holistic approach to understanding the characteristics of, and relationships between localities, cities, regions, countries and continents.
2. Space. Geographers examine how, why and with what effect diverse phenomena vary across the surface of the earth. Geographers understand space to be configured by the movement and organisation of people and materials as well as being a location for social and material action.
3. Environment. Geographers investigate biophysical environments encompassing terrestrial, marine and atmospheric systems. These investigations include the nature, dimensions and causes of environmental change; the reciprocal relationships between the environment and people; the resources biophysical systems provide and their sustainability.

What type of work can I do with a geography qualification?

Geography teaches students a wide-range of useful skills. Employers value the wide-ranging computer, research, and analytical skills that geography students bring to work as employees. While job titles that are unlikely to be “geographer,” there are many types of positions that fit well with a degree/major in geography. These include urban planning, GIS specialist, climatologist, transport planning, environmental management, real estate, national park management, insurance and housing.

What does the word geography mean?

The term “geography” was coined by the ancient Greek scholar Eratosthenes.  It means “writing about the earth”, with Ge meaning the earth and graphy referring to writing.  Geography today is the study of place, space and the environment and the discipline links the social sciences (human geography) with the natural sciences (physical geography).

About the Institute of Australian Geographers
What is the Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG)?

The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia.

When was the IAG established?

The IAG was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

What are the aims of the Institute of Australian Geographers?

The aims of the Institute, as set out in the constitution, are:
•    to promote the study and practice of geography in Australia
•    to advance the study of Australian geography internationally
•    to hold and sponsor meetings and conferences to present, discuss and disseminate geographical studies and research
•    to publish the results of geographical research in a journal
•    to represent the interests of professional geographers in Australia, and
•    to co-operate with other organisations having kindred purposes

Does the Institute of Australian Geographers have an academic journal?

Yes.  The IAG produces Geographical Research, an internationally refereed geography journal, through Wiley Publishing. The journal started as Australian Geographical Studies in 1963, and now has four issues a year. It is a leading international geography journal.  For more information on Geographical Research click here.

The IAG also sponsors an online undergraduate journal, GEOView, for undergraduate students of Geography and Environmental Studies. To access information about GEOView click here

Are there sub-areas within Geography?

Yes.  The IAG has a number of Study Groups, and members may be involved in more than one group.  To learn more about some of the sub-areas with-in geography and to see which Study Groups currently exist within the IAG, please go to the Study Groups page. 

How do I join the Institute of Australian Geographers?

The IAG welcomes new members. The Institute exists to support and represent geography and geographers in Australia. Membership is open to anyone who supports the objectives of the organisation, and there are no qualifications for ordinary membership.

By joining the IAG you help to support an organisation that is working to advance the place of geography in schools, universities, research organisations, public policy and the community generally. The Institute particularly welcomes postgraduate students as members.  Further information is available via the Membership tab. To join the IAG as a new member please go to Membership.

Do I have to be an Australian or living in Australia to join the IAG?

No.  The IAG welcomes all people who support the objectives of the organisation.  The current IAG membership comprises people living in a number of different countries, including the United Kingdom, the USA, New Zealand, Fiji, Pakistan and The Netherlands.