and universities have large geography departments,3 and geography is not taught at all at many institutions of higher learning,4 including some of the nation's leading universities. Thus, many students—as well as faculty members and administrators—lack an appreciation for the importance of geographic perspectives.5 Women and minorities are underrepresented in senior academic and professional positions relative to their numbers in the general population, and, at present, few minorities are entering the field.6 This small human and programmatic base will make it difficult for the discipline to respond effectively to increased demands for attention—demands that are likely to increase still further in the years ahead.

Demands for increased attention are likely to come from several quarters. For example, efforts to infuse geography into the curriculum of the nation's schools will likely lead to increased demands for college level teacher training in geography. Indeed, a surge in student interest in geography is already evident at the college and university levels (e.g., see Figure 1.1 and Appendix A). The use of geography by the research and decision making communities (see Chapters 5 and 6) is likely to translate into a growing demand for college graduates with geographic training.

Realizing geography's potential requires more than addressing the problems presented by the discipline's small size and limited diversity, however. In several critical areas, geography's intellectual foundations need to be strengthened to ensure that its contributions to science and society are solidly grounded. Moreover, geographers need to work to overcome the view that geography is simply a descriptive subject with little analytical or technical depth. This is particularly critical given the growing demand for technical expertise on the part of geographers entering the labor market. At least as important, the appreciation and use of geography by nongeographers need to be fostered, so that the capacity to make use of the discipline's perspectives, knowledge, and techniques grows along with the capacity of the discipline to supply them. This includes enhancing the

3  

Of 27 major departments of geography in the United States selected for inclusion in the Gourman report (1993), 5 had between 20 and 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty members, 12 had between 15 and 20 FTE faculty members, and the remaining departments had between 10 and 15. The 36 Ph.D.-degree-granting departments listed in the National Research Council's latest survey of research doctorate programs (NRC, 1995) averaged 15 faculty members and 33 doctoral students.

4  

Of the roughly 2,200 accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States, about 250 offer undergraduate or graduate degrees in geography.

5  

This situation is extraordinary by world standards because geography is considered a core subject in most universities in Europe and East Asia.

6  

Support for this statement comes from a variety of sources. At the end of 1994, for example, only 1.4 percent of the members of the Association of American Geographers were African American, 1.5 percent were Hispanic, and 0.6 percent were Native American (AAG, 1995). In 1993 females and minorities received about 28 percent and 4 percent, respectively, of the doctorate degrees from the 36 Ph.D.-granting departments surveyed by the National Research Council (NRC, 1995). In 1990 women held only 5 percent of the tenured faculty positions in geography (Lee, 1990).



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