Why Geography has not Returened to Harvard

via Catholicgauze

World War II was the high point for American geography. Geographers worked in all branches of the government and were making a difference in government policy. Almost as important was that the American public knew why geography was important. This changed almost as soon as the war was over. Other academics decried geography as mere description. This happened at Harvard when geologist Marland P. Billings successful managed to pull geography out of Harvard because it was “not a university subject.”

Fast forward fifty-nine years and Harvard is celebrating claiming geography is back. The big news is the launch of the Center for Geographic Analysis. The news was greeted so widely in the academic subuniverse of geography that the Harvard Geographic Society has pretty much gone into hibernation mode as an independent group.

Catholicgauze still is not happy. By “geography” they do not mean physical geography or geography that I use to help understand the world but GIS! Catholicgauze feels GIS is a useful tool, as other disciplines are using the Center for, but too many geographers and non-geographers worship the tool as an end in and of itself. Until a respectful concentration in areas like physical and world regional geography return to Harvard Catholicgauze will moan its state at the university.


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