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Framing and Reframing Questions of Human–Environment Interactions

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Ways in which geographers have framed research on human–environment interactions have changed over time. This review emphasizes the limitations of previous ways of framing human–environment research and indicates new opportunities to be pursued by reframing the research questions. It begins with the research and influence of W. M. Davis and follows with research framed as environmental determinism, human ecology, natural hazards, human impacts on the environment, and sustainability. Studies of interactions between people and environments are central to geography, but such studies have dominantly been one-sided as a result of the type of relationship studied or the perspectives (physical or social) brought by the investigators. Awareness of the nature of nature and the dynamic, interactive behavior of biophysical and human systems has the potential to bring new perspectives to the traditional human–environment dichotomy. Because many of the world's important problems involve interactions between people and environments, geographers are encouraged to turn their attention to this core area of the discipline. Research opportunities include studies of the effects of environmental change on human populations, including the complex web of interactions and feedbacks involved; studies of how environmental services are valued and managed; and other studies that provide knowledge to support more sustainable human–environment interactions, especially in an urbanizing world.
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Keywords: -; determinism; determinismo; dicotomía naturaleza–sociedad; hombre–medio; human impact; human–environment; impacto humano; nature–society dichotomy; sostenibilidad; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography,University of Tennessee,

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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