Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (9): 1654-1669.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-2016-3

• Special Issue: Disciplinary Structure and Development of Geographic Science • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Disciplinary structure and development strategy of human geography in China

FAN Jie1,2(), ZHAO Pengjun3,4, ZHOU Shangyi5, DENG Xiangzheng2,6, WANG Chen7   

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2.College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3.College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    4.Key Laboratory of Earth Surface System and Human-Erath Relations, Ministry of Natural Resources of China, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong, China
    5.Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    6.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    7.School of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China
  • Received:2022-05-26 Accepted:2022-06-22 Online:2022-09-25 Published:2022-11-25
  • About author:Fan Jie (1961-), PhD and Professor, specialized in regional development and planning. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41630644)


Human geography is a discipline that studies the formation and evolution of the geographical distribution pattern of human activities. The main research objects of human geography focus on human activities and human-environment relationship. The scientific questions to be answered by human geography cover both natural science and social science, and thus it has distinctive interdisciplinary features. In China, human activities’ economic and social processes play an essential role in explaining the law in human geography discipline as human society development is approaching or has entered the post-industrialization stage. The logic and methods of social science have become important tools through which human geography’s changes in processes and patterns of human geography can be reasonably discussed and adequately understood. The research methodology of human geography shows integration characteristics between natural sciences and social sciences. The outcomes of human geography research reveal scientific laws in geographical distribution patterns and the evolution of human activities. It becomes one of the primary disciplines for both the national and local governments to manage and optimize spatial development and protection patterns. It has wide applications in spatial planning, regional strategy and policy-making, and the modernization of spatial governance. The unique feature in integrating academic research and policy-making applications provides human geography discipline in China a superiority of leading the world in the discipline. Besides integrated human geography, human geography in China has five subdisciplines: economic geography, urban geography, rural geography, socio-cultural geography and political geography. Each subdiscipline has priority and critical research fields and coordinates with the rest of the subdisciplines.

Key words: human geography, economic geography, urban and rural geography, socio-cultural geography, political geography