existing expertise in the field of geography and improve the bridging function. GIS and remotely-sensed products promote citizen involvement at public meetings by providing a mode of communication between specialist and layperson based on data, while place-based frameworks and decision-support systems allow for experimentation to assist decision makers. Currently, the Survey lacks substantial research capability in these priority areas (Chapter 5).

Recommendation: The USGS should assign high priority and substantial resources to fundamental research directed toward:

  • improving citizen involvement in decision making for issues related to natural sciences by creating citizen-friendly geographic interfaces with all the Survey’s primary spatial datasets;

  • expanding the utility and application of place-based science by conducting integrative place-specific research in addition to topical research in individual disciplines; and

  • enhancing the effectiveness of decision-support systems with increased geographic input and more effective map-like products as output.


The USGS is reforming and incorporating missions that emphasize its role as one of the nation’s most important natural science research agencies. The Geography Discipline produces valuable spatial data for users ranging from private citizens and corporations to governmental agencies at all levels. The Geography Discipline should now expand its activities to assume its proper role among the other disciplines at the USGS by engaging in fundamental geographic research, investigating the processes and forms that explain the dynamics of location, space, and place. The investment in such research will change the Geography Discipline, but it will pay enormous dividends for the nation by improving the science done in other disciplines, integrating new knowledge and data generated by the USGS and others, reducing losses from hazards, improving management of natural resources, enhancing the quality of life, and aiding in wise development. A strong Geography Discipline with a productive research component will ensure recognition of the USGS as scientifically credible, objective, and relevant to society’s needs.

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