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Barrows, Harlan (1877–1960)

  • By: Jessey Gilley
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Harlan H. Barrows was an American geographer best known for his interpretation of geography as human ecology. He expressed this view in his 1922 presidential address to the Association of American Geographers. In Barrows's opinion, simply describing what exists in the landscape was not enough. He believed geography should focus on the actions people take and the adjustments they make to live in their environments. In other words, Barrows thought it was important to focus on what people do to survive and thrive in their environments rather than looking for how the environment influences them.

In Barrows's day, many believed that cultures were influenced almost entirely by the environment. This belief, called environmental determinism, does not consider the fact that people make decisions and adapt to ...

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