BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT
The Department of Geography is one of the oldest of the 62-degree awarding departments in the University of Nigeria. Â The Department was created in the 1961/62 academic year with four academic staff and 24 pioneer students all based in the Faculty of Science. Â The first head of department was Prof. P.K. Sircar, an Indian Climatologist. Two years later, in the 1963/64 academic year, the department was transferred to the Faculty of Social Sciences. In the 1964/65 academic year, Prof. B.N. Floyd took over the headship of the department.
In the wake of the military coups of 1966, there was mass exodus of expatriate staff of the University including those in the Department of Geography. Â As a result of this, the headship of the department fell on the most senior Nigerian academic in the department, in the person of Dr. G.E.K. Ofomata.
During the 1972/73 academic year, the department teemed up with the Department of Estate Management and Architecture to form a new Faculty of Environmental Studies based in the Enugu Campus of the University. Â This was the third faculty the department was to belong to in its 44-year history. Â In the 1983/84 academic year, the department was again moved to join the newly renamed Faculty of the Social Sciences, where it presently resides.
The early curriculum (1961-1964) of the department was basic, with the entire first year spent on General Studyâ€™s courses and electives (University of Nigeria, 1963). Only in the second year were geography courses introduced, and these were limited to three Elements of geography, Map work, and Fieldwork. Â The systematic physical and human geography courses began in the third year. Â Similarly, four regional geography courses were made compulsory. A notable compulsory fourth year course was political geography.
In 1964/65, a number of changes were made to the curriculum. Â Elements of geography courses were now taught in the first year, with the other courses following in the second year (University of Nigeria, 1964). Â Notable additions to the curriculum were a second year course entitled â€˜Laboratory and Fieldwork in Physical Geographyâ€™ and a fourth year course entitle â€˜Applied Geographyâ€™. Â These two courses were later to form part of the uniqueness of the departmentâ€™s curriculum.
The curriculum was in 1981/82, overhauled with new emphasis on environmental issue, on planning, and on practical and analytical techniques. Â Thus, courses in the Philosophy and Methodology of Geography, surveying, Environmental Problems, Quantitative Geography, and Hydrology were introduced. Â So also were there separate courses on practical Human Geography, and Regional Planning Methods. Â To make room for these new courses, the language courses were dropped and three of the five regional geography courses replaced by a new course â€“ Principles of Regional Geography. Â The list of final year special course was increased to 12: five in physical and seven in human geography. Â And to create more balanced geographers, students were required to choose options from both the physical and human fields.
Though one or two modifications over the years were made to course nomenclature only, the 1981/82 curriculum remained unchanged throughout the 1980s. Â It also represented the most balanced expression of the departmentâ€™s unique conception of the spirit and purpose of geography.
Following the decision of the National Universities commission to set up, in 1989, so-called â€˜minimum standardsâ€™ for every academic discipline in the country (National Universities Commission, 1989), the Department curriculum was again revised. Â The â€˜Minimum standardsâ€™ listed courses (and in some cases, course contents!) the department was mandated to teach. Â Most importantly, the â€˜minimum standardsâ€™ decreed that the semester system should apply nationwide. Â The new order to convert to a two-semester system meant that a radical revision of the course structure and running of the department had to be undertaken. Â This was done in 1990/91 and remains operational till date.
The Philosophical thrust of Geography is that spatial phenomena, the processes that yield them and the environment are inextricably linked. Â Consequently, the future of this planet and the human societies it supports depends upon committed, informed and critical persons trained to confront the challenges of Geography and Environmental issues.
The degree programme seeks to fulfill the following objectives:
1. To lay a thorough foundation in all the systematic branches of geography, as well as training students in geographic methods, philosophy and applications.
2. To lay a sound foundation in the study, appreciation and management of the geographic environment.
3. To introduce students to field work and studies of process and inter-relationships with a view to bridging the gap between theory and application.
4. To afford students exposure to specialized aspects of their choice in geography and the geographic environment in their final year.
The programme offered by the Department is broad and diverse, encompassing course work and research project. Â Courses offered cover diverse areas in the General, Physical, Quantitative, Regional and Human Geography. Â Other areas include Population and Settlement Studies, Economic Geography, Environmental Issues and problems, Environmental Protection and Management and Practical in Geography.
Courses normally involve lectures, laboratory work, seminars and field work. Â Candidates are, in addition, required to present research projects which must be original in content and problem oriented.
In addition to satisfying the University entry requirements, candidates seeking admission by entrance examination are required to obtain at least a credit in Geography and English and at least a pass in Mathematics in the West African School Certificate or its equivalent prior to admission. Â Category 1 Direct entry candidates must have passed Geography and either Economics, History, Geology, Agricultural Science, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry or Biology at the H.N.D., N.C.E., H.S.C. (Principal Level) or G.C.E. (Advanced Level). Â Category II Direct entry candidates must have obtained at least Merit in Diploma in Environmental Protection and Management of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in addition to at least a credit in English and a pass in Mathematics at the W.A.S.C. or its equivalent. Candidates in this category may not have Geography at all in W.A.S.C. or its equivalent.
The successful graduates in Geography are equipped for careers in research institutions, armed forces, teaching, as well as government, industries, NGOs, parastatals and corporate agencies. Â They are particularly trained for employment in areas requiring a combination of broad theoretical knowledge, and specific skills. Â Examples of areas of employment include:
ï‚§ Population Agencies
ï‚§ Transport Development and Planning
ï‚§ Urban and Regional Planning
ï‚§ Conservation and Land Management
ï‚§ Environmental Management Agencies
ï‚§ Pollution Monitoring
ï‚§ Private Consultancies
ï‚§ Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Educational institutions
ï‚§ Resource Management.
ï‚§ Industrial Establishments
|General Geography, Philosophy and Methodology
|Practical in Geography
|Population and Settlement Studies
|Environmental Protection and Management