The IGU Kyoto Regional Conference 2013 will be held at the Kyoto International Conference Center from August 4th through 9th, 2013. More than 1,000 geographers and students from all over the world are expected to participate in the meeting initiated by the International Geographical Union. A conference on geographic research of such a scale has not been held in Japan since the 24th International Geographical Congress in Tokyo 33 years ago in 1980. This special issue was planned to, along with other objectives, raise awareness about the IGU Kyoto Regional Conference 2013, not only among researchers in the fields of geography and the geosciences, but also among students, governmental organizations, and employees of private companies from related fields, and promote exchanges among geographers from all over the world. Geographical research and education vary from country to country in terms of historical development, local research organizations, research contents, university education, and curriculum. Consequently, this special issue (Part 1) and the subsequent issue (Part 2) address trends, positioning, societal roles, and future of geography in individual countries. In Part 1, we focus on European countries, namely the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania. Part 2 will cover the USA, Canada, Brazil, Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. Overall, we have tried to find a regional balance, and selected 25 countries and regions that are active in geographic research and education.
This paper presents a brief history of geography in the United Kingdom, how it was institutionalized, referring to external impacts on research and teaching. Although geography has a long history in the United Kingdom as an intellectual activity, extending back to the Age of Exploration in the late 16th century, it has only been institutionalized as an academic discipline in universities since the end of the 19th century. Geography was established as a discipline offering an integrated study of complex reciprocal relationships among human societies and physical components of the Earth. By the early 1960s, quantitative and theoretical revolutions were having considerable impacts not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom. Since then, geography has become a popular subject in elementary and secondary education, as well as higher education, in the UK. Although spatial science expanded rapidly in the 1960s, and continued to do so in the early 1970s, it never became part of the mainstream of human geography. Some fundamental critiques of the positivist approach led to the emergence of humanistic geography and radical geography. The following decades were turbulent for human geography—exciting but confusing—in part because human geographers were busy exploring new ideas. Then, the GIS revolution occurred in the late 1980s in the USA and the UK, which greatly affected geography. Around the same time, as new aspects of social and cultural geography came to be sufficiently established, differences between spatial science and new social and cultural geography became apparent. By the end of the 20th century, geography was firmly established in UK universities. Geography is taught to a large number of students and attracts many applicants to universities. However, changes in funding regimes and school curricula have influenced education and research. One major change in UK geography in the 1990s can be found in its research orientation. Previously, geography was an integrated area of study, based on physical and human geography, and its focus was on how much a university department could cover in terms of disciplines. However, after a new funding regime, called Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), was introduced, all geography departments came to be graded according to the quality of their research. External assessments of both research through the RAE and teaching through QAA have greatly affected how geography is practiced. Although UK geography remains an apparently successful and vibrant intellectual discipline, it might have suffered from fragmentation. Like all disciplines, geography has become fragmented and diversified in recent decades, because of its greater breadth and depth of knowledge. Based not only on substantive but also on epistemological and methodological differences, it is usually divided into physical and human geography. Moreover, human geography can be distinguished by the two major approaches of spatial analysis and social theory. This is because geography has become a community of sub-communities and individual departments, responding to research and teaching assessments. Despite fragmentation, geography in the United Kingdom continues to develop in the university and school systems, and has a substantive international reputation for the quality of its scholarship.
The aim of this paper is to overview recent geographical studies in Germany. Traditionally, German geographers have achieved significant results from research and theoretical studies. In particular, regional geographical studies have produced important results. After 1970, geography in Germany changed due to the influence of globalization and generational change. German geographical studies began to interact closely with English and American geographical studies. There were several remarkable tendencies. The first was the argument for new regional geographical studies and a system of geography. The second was studies of localities and provinces, as proposed by Schöller. The third was social geography, which places emphasis on human behavior. According to lists of major geographical journals in Germany, there is a good balance between physical geography and human geography. Ecological studies and social geography are popular in German geography. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of English-language articles in Geographical journals. German geographers aggressively contribute papers in English to communicate the outcomes of their research. German geographers have also promoted education on geography, and several plans have been proposed for environmental studies. Education on geography has contributed to a strengthening of education for sustainable development (ESD), which is encouraged by UNESCO. The status of geography continues to improve in Germany; however, it is not a major subject in German education. German geographers have improved education on geography in schools and Universities. Many personal interactions between Japanese and Germany geographers are continuing, and geographers from both countries have organized the Japanese-German Geographical Conference.
In the first half of the twentieth century, the French school of geography was very famous around the world, based on the reputations of its leading geographers (Vidal de la Blache, Martonne, Demangeon, etc.). French geography in the early twenty-first century, however, shows rather different perspectives from the Vidalien tradition of geography. In this paper, I attempt to describe some recent directions of this new French geography, mainly from the end of the 1970s. I pay special attention to eight French geographers to indicate the strong points of the present French geography, i.e. R. Brunet, Y. Lacoste, P. Claval, J.-R. Pitte, A. Berque, J. Lévy, R. Knafou, and C. Grataloup. These geographers have contributed to the recent renewal of French geography, especially in the areas of regional geography (la géographie chorématique), geopolitics, cultural geography, geography of tourism, and historical geography. I also mention new aspects of French geographical education.
The article presents a summary of the development of geography in Switzerland since the late 19th century. After initial development placed weight on physical geography, there was a period after the Second World War until the early 1970s when human geography blossomed, mainly because of the need for regional planning. During the 1970s, geography in Switzerland searched for a new direction either as an environmental science or as a part of the Earth sciences. In a method-oriented development, satellite-based remote sensing and computer-based Geographic Information System were actively introduced. During the last thirty years, the field of physical geography has been productive, while human geography has failed to establish itself either as an environmental science or a scientific discipline with a global perspective. Notable accomplishments at universities in Berne and Zurich, as well as at the Federal Institute of Technology (E.T.H.), are summarized. Coordinated contributions that are internationally acknowledged have been made in various fields of climatology and geomorphology. Furthermore, the teaching of geography at Swiss high schools and teaching training methods at universities are outlined.
This study examines the characteristics of geography in Austria, focusing on research and education at geographical institutes of universities. Geographical studies in Austria have developed within the framework of those studies in German-speaking countries. Some Austrian geographers contributed to the development of geography globally. Conversely, there have been many studies on the regional geography of the Alps, Vienna, and Eastern Europe on various regional scales, based on the geographical position of the country. Cartography has also been recognized as an important subject in geographical research, along with the publication of atlases. Education on geography at universities has changed remarkably due to the Bologna-Process. The creation of bachelor courses has caused some problems, such as an increasing number of undergraduate students, decreasing number of graduate students, and increasing educational load on professors. It will be an important task for geography staff in Austrian universities to keep a balance between research and education.
Since its beginnings, geography in Spain has followed a particular development course, defined mainly by a close and ever evolving relationship between academic geography and professional geography. Over the last few decades, the two geographies have been mutually involved, creating a situation in which the professional practice of geography, originating with cartographers and engineers in the late nineteenth century, has become an increasingly important factor for the renewal of academic research, mostly undertaken in universities. Innovation was possible, on the one hand, thanks to the consolidation of academic geography, which today concerns not only traditional areas of knowledge, but also fields where there is growing social demand, such as environment, landscape management, regional planning, urbanism or risk analysis. All these themes, on the other hand, have opened up new professional opportunities for geography graduates, who have been contributing with their practice in administration and private enterprises to make more people aware of the importance of geography as a useful science. The fruitful relationship between the two geographies briefly described above is the main concern of this article, which introduces a mixed approach of science historiography and radiography. After analyzing the evolution of academic geography through doctoral theses and major journals specialized in geography, the author highlights the role of professional geography, focusing on how geographers are entering in new fields of the labor market and are defending their interests as a professional group. The analysis is complemented by reference to successive new plans of studies launched in university geographical education, an important reform accelerated by the so-called Bologna process. The article concludes by pointing out some of the research lines that have great potential for future development with international repercussions.
Until the 1970s the French school of geography exerted a tremendous influence on Portuguese geographers, many of whom made major contributions to studies on the relationship between nature and human beings. Since the Carnation Revolution in 1974, however, various strands of geographical thought have been introduced to the discipline of geography in Portugal, due to increasing academic exchanges with foreign scholars, which have led to a gradual diversification of themes in studies of geography. For instance, research on regional planning and urban planning has progressed since the 1980s, making applied geography one of the mainstreams of geographical studies in Portugal. Recently, research institutions in the major universities of Portugal have also been reorganized, obtaining corporate status to receive more research funds. They are expected to produce excellent research outputs soon after their establishment.
Since the year 2000, approaches to geographicay in Sweden at both institutes of higher education and research have undergone significant changes. The purpose of the present article is to review the state-of-the-art of higher education and research as it affects geography at universities and institutes in Sweden. To this end, the second section addresses geographical education at universities and university colleges, while the third focuses on trends of geographical studies at Swedish research institutes in the current millennium. As a result, it is explicated that, although a wide range of geographical subjects are taught at universities and university colleges, there is almost no difference between current doctoral programmes at universities on geographical subjects and those established before 1997. Regarding geographical studies, it is revealed moreover, that although the present study objectives differ broadly from those before 2000, policy-oriented studies, such as research on regional innovation, industrial cluster, and housing mix, continue to dominate universities in Sweden. This indicates that the direction of geographical research has remained unchanged since the World War II.
This article explains the history of geography education from basic to higher levels up to the present in Finland. It also maps out the geography departments in universities and geography-related academic societies to give a full picture of geography education in Finland. Geography is a compulsory subject from elementary to senior high-school education in Finland. Furthermore, geography is one of the natural sciences, and it plays an important role in providing students with the experience needed to think logically about various phenomena from natural and social science points of view. It took a long time for geography to become established and to gain status as a natural science in the Finish education system. Geography education in Finland started in the 1500s. Although geography was part of history in the 19th century, geographers and schoolteachers advocated that remembering place names is not the core of geography, rather the most important thing in geography is to understand the causes of spatial distributions using knowledge from the natural sciences. Geography became a natural science subject in the late 19th century. At present, geography is seen as a bridge between natural and social sciences, and it is considered to be an important subject for fostering the ability to think logically. In Finland six universities have geography departments. In other universities there are classes on geography or geographic information systems even if there is no geography department. Therefore, students can study geography in most universities in Finland. Geographic societies are active. Each society publishes journals, and scholars try to increase the visibility of Finnish geography not only in Finnish but also in English, in order to influence both Finnish and international societies.
The discipline of geography in Russia has evolved during the twenty years since the systemic transformation of Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Viewed from a historical perspective, geography has undergone distinct changes throughout the Imperial, Soviet, and current Russian eras. In this sense, the history of geography in Russia is richer and more complex than it may seem at first glance. When discussing the present situation of geography in Russia, it is important to consider historical continuity and discontinuity. Accordingly, this paper examines the present situation of geography in Russia, partly by adopting a historical approach, based primarily on previous literature. The following main characteristics of geography in Russia were identified. Russia has two kinds of scientific center—the Academy of Sciences and the universities—in addition to its famous Geographical Society and large national territory. As a result, Russia has become one of the world leaders in the fields of geography and geographical education. Russian geography includes a wide range of fields of geography, known in Russia as the “geographical sciences,” and has experienced ecologization since the late 1970s. The influence of the systemic transformation on geography, although it varies by field, has not completely ceased today. Recently, new sources of support for the development of geography have emerged. One of the factors involved in most of the above-mentioned characteristics is the relationship between geography and the government. This concept is used to explain changes in the discipline of geography from the Imperial era to the present.
Aim: The author describes the main characteristics of the study of geography sciences in Poland and its development. In Poland, the continuity of geography sciences has fairly strong foundations. To explain these foundations the author discusses the relationship between the history of geography sciences in Poland and research since the 18th century, as well as the importance of knowledge about the country's land, people, and history. Method: Three approaches are adopted in this study. Interviews and discussions with geographers in Poland helped to enhance the author's understanding. The standard research method of collecting and reading literature was used; however, knowledge obtained through observations during the author' stay in Poland over the past 40 years was another important source of information used to complete this study. Results: The main results can be summarized by three points. 1. Poland's geography is important from a geopolitical viewpoint. 2. The Academy of Sciences systems introduced along with socialism can be regarded as a device that supports geography sciences. 3. Five major accomplishments are identified in geography science research in Poland. (1) Progress of theory in economic geography from the 1950s into the 1990s: the theory and practice of economic regionalization. (2) Studies in urban and population geography conducted from the 1960s into the 1990s. (3) Studies in the regional (spatial) structure of national economy and, as an extension, the development of socialist futurology (or geography of the future) toward the 21st century. (4) Restoration of traditional regional geography in forms such as the study of ethnic minority groups in the Eurasian space. Eastern border problems in the EU, Republic of Poland, and ethnic minorities. (5) Cartography: the national atlases published during these periods were notable achievements in the field of cartography.
In this paper, we discuss the geographical features of Slovakia under three themes: 1) Geography of Slovakia before 1989, 2) Geography of Slovakia since 1990, and 3) Slovak Geographers and research problems in Slovakia. A rapid transformation has taken place in Slovakia since 1990. Whereas fast and dynamic growth was observed in big cities such as Bratislava, widening gaps between rich and the poor, growing unemployment, and expanding regional disparities became more evident. Many geographers in Slovakia took notice of these economic and social problems, and conducted research to address them. Another feature of Slovakia since 1990 is an increasing number of international conferences and joint-research projects. One of the major challenges facing geography in Slovakia today is how to prevent the flow of young geographers overseas, in other words, how to stop the brain drain in Slovakia. Accelerating exchanges with Russia and surrounding countries are an issue of equal importance for the study of geography in Slovakia.
The Romanian Society of Geographers has a long history, having been established in Bucharest, Romania in 1875. The Department of Geography at the University of Bucharest was started in 1900, followed shortly after by the Department of Geography at Iaşi University (1904), and the Department of Geography at Cluj University (1919). In Romania, the Institute of Geography at the Academy of Romania has played an important role in geography since the early 20th century. The Institute of Geography was involved in editing major publications during the socialist regime, e.g. Atlas of Romania, Monography of Romania, Encyclopedia of Romania etc. Under the socialist regime, geographers experienced much hardship. The slogan of this period was “humans can change nature.” Even during the most difficult period, S. Mehedizin (1868-1962) and V. Mihailescu (1890-1978) were able to publish works on physical geography and topo-climatology. After the revolution in 1989, the fields of human geography and physical geography developed quickly in Romania, like those in western countries, although modeling studies lacked access to large-capacity computers for analysis.