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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 May 2018

Summary and Keywords

As a broad discipline, geography encompasses the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. However, its concerns are built around four core concepts: environment, place, space, and scale. The importance of each concept can be better appreciated by relating them to discussions on competition for environmental resources, territoriality, imperialism and international conflict, place-making within the world state system, and current global environmental issues. The study of international relations must be built on geographical foundations, which are fluid in nature as new places and spaces emerge to exploit and protect environmental resources as well as local cultural, social, and political sensitivities; this results in continually changing geographies. Many states are often termed nation-states because their populations have a separate national identity (an “imagined community”) linked to the state’s territory—they are geographical places. Such an identity is considered necessary to the state apparatus successfully implementing its major functions, such as guaranteeing social integration and the welfare of all. The system of territorially defined states is affected by globalization, giving rise to a growing concern about environmental change that is global in scope. In order to tackle global environmental problems, several issues need to be addressed, including the recognition that an associated problem exists; identification of resources necessary for tackling the problem; winning acceptance for the proposed solution; gaining political commitment to the solution; implementation of the solution; and evaluation of the implementation.

Keywords: geography, environment, place, space, scale, territoriality, place-making, international relations, globalization, global environmental problems

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