Liberia: UMU speaker urges students to consider geography studies

Geography, like few other subjects / courses, is rarely taken into account when young people make career decisions today, a situation that some believe should start to gain the attention of stakeholders given the growing attention to globalization and the global economy.

Many people are beginning to fear that the “intentional neglect” of such a critical field of study, which is considered the mother of all courses, would see an entire generation of future leaders become oblivious to geographic knowledge, making them unaware of geographic knowledge. difficult analysis of world events. and make rational decisions.

These future leaders will also struggle to understand the basic physical systems of daily life, such as the implications of the solar system on climate, water cycles, ocean currents, and many more.

The above are concerns raised by a young professor of geography at United Methodist University (UMU), Isaac G. Clay.

Clay is concerned that most, if not all, university students do not consider such an important field of study despite the enormous career potential it presents, not only nationally, but regionally and globally.

The fact that young people are not encouraged to study geography means that Liberia is neglecting or practically throwing away a very critical segment of its skilled workforce, he told this reporter in an interview on Wednesday.

“This means that we are losing a very critical essential part of its national assets to the benefit of foreigners. We will collect and monitor our national data? Will we be dependent on strangers to do it for us? Don’t we know that information has national security implications? ”He asked rhetorically.

He said it was high time for Liberia to engage part of its people in researching knowledge of data, analysis and computer systems, also known as Geographic Information System (GIS) .

GIS is a computerized system used for the collection, storage, analysis, management and presentation of complex geographic information, for example radar.

“We need to train a geographer who will collect and examine the geographic data generated by the GIS,” he said, adding that the data can be applied in various fields, such as defense, meteorology. , oil, gas, telecommunications, and transportation, to make decisions that benefit the country.

There is a need for a paradigm shift in the country’s educational programs and it is even more urgent now than before, he said.

Clay offers a robust national curriculum that will encourage students to become geographers so that they can have control over our national data “or else, we’ll have to blame ourselves.”

“Who do we think will do our development for us if we don’t have people trained to do it? There is so much that we are missing with what I might consider a deliberate neglect of geography. “That burden is again on the government. It must ensure that we have geographers up to the task in this modern age,” he said.

However, there is an acute shortage of geographers in the country, a situation that even affects the Department of Geography at UMU and other higher education institutions, especially the Public University of Liberia.

Clay has a first degree and is seeking a second degree. He is one of the few staff members of his department at the university. He says the department has embarked on a project to encourage students to join and study as geographers.

The entire Department of Geography at UMU has fewer than ten students currently pursuing geography studies. “We want to bring more young people on board. We are trying to convince them of the importance of this course,” he said.

“I want to invite young people to study geography. It is in their interest and that of our state. This course allows you to identify and appreciate important events and national and international policies; to make better decisions. and informed about the best use of national resources; and asking relevant questions about policies that optimize landscape and land use, “he said.

Careers in geography provide opportunities to develop solutions to some of the most pressing problems of modern society, including climate change, natural disasters, overpopulation, urban expansion, and multicultural integration.

Although many students believe the field of geography is unattractive economically and does not have much prestige, Clay says such a perception is wrong.

There is physical geography and human geography, and each of the two offers huge employment opportunities, he noted.

He said there are many careers in geography that would suit anyone and increase their employability in these fields – specifically referring to the environmentalist, engineer, cartographer, GIS officer, lecturer, landscape architect.

“All I have listed are attractive fields with good salaries. We just like to make excuses just because we don’t want to do the right things,” he said.

Clay added that those who major in human geography are great for developing skills and knowledge that would be useful for a career in politics or the nonprofit sector.

“People who do not know the importance of the subject may look with contempt on people pursuing a degree in the field, but the avid Liberian geographer said this course provides students with strong research and analytical skills, which are very important. appreciated by many employers, especially internationally, ”he noted.