Vol. 17, No. 1, March 1979 - "Geography in the Political Arena"

(pp. 1 - 6)

John E. Benhart and John J. Ford
Shippensburg State College

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania


The Geography-Earth Science Department at Shippensburg State College has become involved in the political process working closely with the Center for Local and State Government. The department began by submitting and receiving a Title I, Higher Education Grant for Community Service and Continuing Education Programs. The grant provided the funds for a series of conferences and workshops dealing with topics such as Drainage, Basin Management, Downtown Revitalization, Zoning, Solid Waste Management, Powers and Responsibilities of Planning Commissions, Preservation of Prime Agricultural Land and Stormwater Management. The contract and interaction of faculty members and students with local governmental officials in southcentral Pennsylvania at the workshops provided a needed exchange of academic expertise with the practical realities of political decision making. 

(pp. 6 - 13)

Paul F. Rizza and James C. Hughes

Department of Geography

Slippery Rock State College

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania


Unlike traditional geography, a planning curriculum must emphasize today's political realities. Rural and urban planners need to be cognizant of the complex and often interdependent political interests that exist within most planning regions. Knowledge of the political aspects of the planning process is essential to any sound planning program. Plan implementation depends primarily upon the planner's ability to operate effectively in the political arena. This paper describes the development of a planning program that is sensitive to the political arena and is yet rooted in traditional courses. 

(pp. 13 - 19)

Vincent P. Miller, Jr.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Indiana, Pennsylvania


A focus on geography and the political arena offers intriguing possibilities for a new and different type of instruction. These approaches are already manifest in geography departments across the state and in the country as seen in the increased interest in planning. Geographers are now in the position of placing their students in the "political arena" in a way that they never did before, in the service arms of government, planning agencies and the like. This represents a coming of age of the disciplines. The development of such vocationalism  may become a mixed blessing as discovered in many other "applied" fields of study especially seen in the business and engineering schools. The mixed blessing is that rapid change sometimes results in immaturity. Here I refer to the lack of development of concomitant empiricism, and understanding of sound practice in the light of case studies, and in reference to theory. As geographers, it should occur to us that more traditional geography can provide a basis that allows considerable depth of understanding with respect to the vocational swing of the field. One very likely candidate in providing depth is settlement geography. Settlement geography with its preoccupation for the rural scene and developmental process has much to offer geographers and planners being trained to serve in the political arena. Indeed the converse is equally true, the rise of this vocationalism can give new richness and direction to the sub-discipline of settlement geography.  

(pp. 19 - 30)

Walter C. Farrell, Jr.

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

James H. Johnson, Jr.
Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan


The decade of the sixties was undoubtedly the most "revolutionary" period in the entire history of geography. First, there was the methodological revolution, the shift from the descriptive-inductive approach to the more abstract, theoretical - deductive approach. This drastic change was characterized by the adoption and application of quantitative techniques, computers, automated mapping, and satellite photography as well as the development and use of spatial and behavioral models in geographic research. The quantitative - theoretical revolution was followed closely by a second revolution - an increased emphasis on the geography of Black America. Prior to 1965, geographic research on the Afro-American was virtually non-existent, but it increased exponentially thereafter.

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