Thursday, June 07, 2007

Philosophy v. Geography

I am torn. This is my dilemma. I really dig philosophy. I dig it really deep. If I study philosophy (of the Continental flavor) I'll need to get at the very least a Masters if I hope to get a job in a philosophy department. But even if I am the most amazing philosophy student on the face of the earth and I have a Masters, I am still infinitely far from being assured a job in a philosophy department. There are just too few jobs and too few people willing to give up their jobs so that I can have them and too many philosophy students who think that they'll be the ones to succeed.

Now, Danica hates to work. She doesn't want to work anymore. She wants me to be the bread-winner already. I do, too. I'm really sick of school. So, if I stuck around with philosophy I'd be in school another few years with no guarantee of a job. I'd probably end up substitute-teaching middle school gym classes. Then Danica would have to keep working because I wouldn't make enough money to live off of.

Keep in mind that philosophy is very very dear to me.

I've been checking out this program at my school lately. It is a B.Sc. in Environmental Geography. Here is the description:

Environmental geography is the branch of geography that describes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. It requires an understanding of the dynamics of climatology, hydrology, biogeography, geology and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment. Environmental geography represents a critically important set of analytical tools for assessing the impact of human presence on the environment by measuring the result of human activity on natural landforms and cycles. This program draws on courses within physical geography, including a distinctive strand of courses dealing with environmental issues, resources and management. Teaching and learning methods are diverse, ranging from lectures and tutorials through to a variety of practical work in cartography, GIS, remote sensing and statistics.

Environmental geographers are familiar with how natural systems function, but they also know that humans are a dominant agent of change in nature. They realize that it is not possible to understand environmental problems without understanding the physical processes as well as the demographic, cultural, and economic processes that lead to increased resource consumption and waste. Environmental geographers fan out along a variety of academic paths, and these paths will cross, mingle, or converge with those of other disciplines. By its very nature geography is a discipline that seeks to integrate and synthesize knowledge. Therein lies its strength. The geographer’s world is your world: it is the earth as the home of humans.

Environmental geography prepares students for careers in environmental planning, design, and restoration, as well as in environmental assessment and monitoring, resource management, natural areas preservation, and outdoor and environmental education. Students completing the program will develop competencies in a broad array of subjects spanning the natural and social sciences, as well as complementary analytical techniques.

Environmental geographers ask a diverse set of questions such as:

* Can the global environment cope with anticipated population growth?
* What will be the extent and impact of global warming?
* Should we protect tropical forests and why are they being destroyed?
* What causes famine and why do people die from it?
* Should we allow Hydro Quebec to dam the rivers entering James Bay?

Much of what happens in our daily lives is influenced by events beyond our ‘local world’ – events often beyond our borders and outside the control of our national governments. As the world’s nations and environment become more interdependent, the need to understand how our lives are interconnected across the globe increases. With it the role of geography and employment opportunities for geographers will continue to grow.

This sounds like a lot of fun and I know I'd get really into it, I'd be out of school sooner, and I'd be pretty much guaranteed a job, which would make both Danica and I very pleased. But, again, it is not philosophy, which I love. I don't know what to do.

What should I do?

UPDATE: What about a double major in Littérature de la langue française and Environmental Geography and a minor in Philosophy. That would be the same number of credits as a double major in Littérature de la langue française and honours Philosophy, which was my original plan. A minor in Philosophy won't get me anything, but at least I'll get to have a bit of fun. Come on, what do you say?


Anonymous said...

I think a good question to ask might be "How can I help my world with the job that I do?" The planet finds itself in a pretty shitty state. We need to be educated about our environment. Not just how to have better practices, but the bigger question "Why should we care?" I think that job would provide an excellent opportunity to teach a new generation how to answer that question.

Just my two cents,
Brandon McDonald

Matthew said...

But isn't it philosophy that asks those why questions? Environmentalists don't often get around to that, it seems to me. I guess I'm naive enough to believe that philosophy can have some positive impact on the world.

Good to hear from you, Brandon.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you do Environmental Geography you can get a job in a huge national park, wandering around in the trees to map stuff. I would be incredibly jealous. And maybe you can talk about Kant with the deer. They look nice and intelligent.
But I have to tell you that I am overall a firm believer in doing what you want to. Especially since I gave up on music and now have a pretty worthless English degree. At least I can get those jobs that require ANY degree. Still, if you can find work that you like that makes money, do it. You will be happy! And maybe your environmental geography job will give you tuition reimbursement for a Master's degree in philosophy.