Today and every day, we hope our products inspire people to be more in touch with the world around them. With our MOVA® World Maps Collection, we capture the legacy of maps as valuable sources of knowledge while adding a new dimension of wonder and appeal. In honor of Geography Awareness Week, we are putting an extra emphasis on the importance of geographical knowledge and how it affects our everyday lives.
What does getting a degree in geography actually entail? According to Stacie Townsend, a PhD candidate in the Geography Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis, it’s a lot more varied and diverse than most people think. Stacie discusses how geography can be used to explain everything from trends in public transportation to the fictional town of Hill Valley from the Back to the Future movie trilogy. And while she clarifies that geography isn’t always about maps, we still get her to share her favorite types of maps with us and tell us why she thinks maps are so important to understanding our place in the world.
You’re currently working on your PhD in Geography — when did your love of geography start?
I’ve been in love with geography since I was a little kid! The ‘geography facts’ worksheets that we would get in our weekly homework packets in elementary school were always the first ones I reached for. I couldn’t wait to open up our family atlas and find the answers, and then get lost looking over all the maps and information about all the countries of the world.
Chances are you know someone who dislikes reading maps. Scales, grids, directions, legends, and all those details make it overwhelming to decipher information. Even mapmaker Denis Wood doesn’t use these things; in fact he challenges them. Maker of unconventional maps and author of several books denouncing the old rigid rules of cartography, Denis seeks instead to map things around him that people don’t usually think are mappable. Unapologetic and groundbreaking, we had the honor of speaking with Denis Wood to learn about his cartographic crusade, goals and aspirations for his work, and the effects mapmaking has had on his life.