Essay Sample: Carl Sauer's Life History and Contributions

Published: 2022-11-22
Essay Sample: Carl Sauer's Life History and Contributions
Type of paper:  Biography
Categories:  Geography Biography
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 991 words
9 min read

Geography s one of the fields that is widely explored. Over the years, there have been many geographers who have made tremendous contributions to its development. Carl Sauer's is undoubtedly one of the geographers who has made significant contributions to geography. He had a deep love for geography which saw him make a lot of progress in this field. The deep understanding and the knowledge that he consistently acquired, played a critical role in Sauer's work. He went to the extent of publishing his work. The paper explores Carl Sauer's biography. It looks into his academic background, his contributions to geography, the impact he made on geography, and the work that he published.

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To begin with, Carl Sauer was a geographer born in 1889 in Warrenton, Missouri. Missouri was a rural area where they were farming as the source of livelihood. During his young age, his parents opted to send him to Germany for studies. Later he went back to the United States where he attended college at Central Wesleyan. It was at this University that he completed his studies and graduated in 1908. After finishing college, he joined Northeastern University in Illinois. While pursuing his geology course, Sauer developed a deep interest in the past. Consequently, he decided to shift to the broader field of geography. In this subject, his interest was inclined to the past, human cultural activities and the physical landscape. In these fields, he learned the importance of observation which he extensively applied in his studies. Later, Sauer moved to University of Chicago to undertake his Ph.D. which he successfully earned in 1915. To complete his Ph.D., Sauer did a dissertation. It focused on the landscape and people around the Ozark Highlands located in Missouri.

Sauer is significant to geography for the contribution and impact that he made. After graduating from Chicago University, he immediately started to teach geography subject at the University of Michigan. Sauer remained at Michigan up to 1923. At Michigan, Sauer's focus was teaching environmental determinism which is a subset of geography. Environmental determinism argued that physical environment influenced culture and the society at large and not the vice versa. On studying pine forest, Sauer changed his idea on environmental determinism, and he came to understand that human beings control the physical environment unlike the other way round. For a long time, geography was majorly studied in the East and West of America. However, Sauer transferred to the University of California and contributed to geography in Berkeley. Furthermore, he made a new initiative on how to study geography. It was at the University of California where Sauer advanced his ideas on Geography.

Additionally, Sauer made a substantial contribution to geography by developing Berkeley School. Berkeley School was a line of thought which primarily focused on three areas. The areas focused on the interaction between, cultures, history together with the landscape. "Berkeley School of thought was critical to Sauer as it helped him to have a distinct understanding of the interaction between the physical environment and the human being." It helped to put more emphasis on the importance of history to geography. Thus, Sauer helped to integrate history and geography. As a result, he aligned the geography department with the anthropology and the history departments at the University of California.

Moreover, the work that Sauer Published cannot be undermined. Sauer wrote a paper on the "Morphology of Landscape." It was the most influential article that introduced his ideas concerning the natural landscape. The paper portrayed Sauer's vision for the geography discipline. Moreover, it questioned environmental determinism and shade light on his stand that geography should be a study that explains how the current landscape was shaped by people and other natural processes over the years. Also, He published Ibero-Americana along other academics. It was about the Native Americans and their historical geography. Saucers work did not stop at that. "In 1938, he wrote essays that focused on environmental and economic issues." It was after he had studied the relationship that existed between the climate and soil. Government failure to create economic reforms and sustainable agriculture prompted him to study climate and soil in detail. Additionally, he contributed to the book by the title "Man's Role in changing the face of the Earth." Through the book, Sauer explained the impact the human being had made on the organisms and the landscape.

In summary, Sauer was important to geography for the extensive contribution, impact and the work he published. First, he was a geography teacher. He taught geography at the University of Michigan before moving to the University of California. At the University of California, he introduced new methods of studying geography. Also, Sauer established his idea as "Berkeley School" where he challenged environmental determinism. Using his school of thought, Sauer explained the controversial relationship between the physical environment and the human being. Sauer went ahead to challenge the government as it had failed on issues to do with sustainable agriculture and economic reforms. As a result, it spearheaded his contribution to "Man's Role in changing the face of the Earth." Therefore, Carl Sauer is famous for his valuable contribution to geography.


Botkin, Daniel B., Margriet F. Caswell, John E. Estes, and Angelo A. Orio. 2014. Changing the Global Environment Perspectives on Human Involvement. Saint Louis: Elsevier Science.

Briney, Amanda. "Biography of Carl O. Sauer." Thought. October 17, 2018. Accessed February 18, 2019.

"Carl Sauer and the Cultural Landscape." Faults | Earth 520: Plate Tectonics and People: Foundations of Solid Earth Science. Accessed February 18, 2019.

Cresswell, Tim. 2013. Geographic thought: a critical introduction. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Gade, Daniel W. "Thoughts on bibliographic citations to and by Carl Sauer." Carl Sauer on Culture and Landscape: Readings and Commentaries (2009): 29-52.

Kenzer, Martin S. "The Making of Carl O. Sauer and the Berkeley School of (Historical) Geography." Ph.D. diss., 1985.

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