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geography's domains of synthesis:1 environmental-societal dynamics relating human action to the physical environment, environmental dynamics linking physical systems, and human-societal dynamics linking economic, social, and political systems; and
spatial representation using visual, verbal, mathematical, digital, and cognitive approaches.
These three perspectives can be represented as dimensions of a matrix of geographic inquiry as shown in Figure 3.1.
The matrix of geographic perspectives. Geography's ways of looking at the world—through its focus on place and scale (horizontal axis)—cuts across its three domains of synthesis: human-societal dynamics, environmental dynamics, and environmental-societal dynamics (vertical axis). Spatial representation, the third dimension of the matrix, underpins and sometimes drives research in other branches of geography.
The term synthesis, as used in this report, refers to the way in which geographers often attempt to transcend the boundaries traditionally separating the various natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities disciplines in order to provide a broad-ranging analysis of selected phenomena. Such research benefits not only from bringing into one analysis ideas that are often treated separately in other disciplines but also from critically examining the disjunctures and contradictions among the ways in which different disciplines examine identical phenomena.