To encourage implementation of these recommendations:

  1. Geographic and related organizations—especially the AAG, NGS, NSF, and NRC—should work together to develop and execute a plan to implement the recommendations in this report. The committee's recommendations to strengthen the discipline of geography and increase its contributions to science and society are wide-ranging in scope and will require a sustained and coordinated effort on the part of these organizations if they are to be realized. By working together, these organizations can leverage their individual efforts to develop a coherent implementation strategy, to monitor and evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the strategy, and to promote effective action by geographers, geographic and related organizations, and policy makers to achieve the long-term objectives of this report.

Summary

If these recommendations are implemented, both science and society will benefit, as will geography itself. Underlying nearly all of the recommendations is the conclusion that the demand for contributions from geography and the supply capacity, given current resources, are far out of line. Unless significant actions are taken, and taken quickly, either geography's contributions will be severely supply constrained (leading, for instance, to restricted enrollments in university courses and programs) or may decline in quality, as limited professional resources are stretched too thinly.

This conclusion is unavoidable, and it raises questions about the allocation of financial resources. If geography's rediscovered relevance has greater value within science and to society than is currently being realized, the investment of resources should be commensurate with this higher potential. But the issue is not merely one of funding. More importantly, a wide range of institutions and leaders—in government, business, research support, science, education, issue advocacy, the communications media, and geography itself as a discipline—need to raise their levels of awareness of geography's value to science and society and find more effective ways to publicize and utilize geography's perspectives, skills, and knowledge base. Looking toward the next century, realizing geography's potentials will require innovative new partnerships between provider and user, supported and supporter, one science and another, data gatherer and data analyst, and basic research and applications of knowledge.

If geography can be a pathfinder in developing and fulfilling such partnerships, it can survive a difficult transition from scarcity to abundance, and science at large will benefit from many of geography's successes as models for other disciplines. Such a future for the discipline is far from certain, and some of the changing conditions in the 1990s may make it more difficult, but it is worth a concerted effort by all of the interested parties and most of all by geography itself.



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