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Geography has indeed spread its net wide. On the one hand, there are the core unifying concepts and skills that remain important to the discipline as a whole. On the other hand, there are tensions between the two sub-disciplines within which specialisms have multiplied apace. Where does geography stand now as a unified discipline? Can that unity survive in the face of increasing diversification and continuing change?

Strengths of Geography

  • brought by by the breadth of the discipline of geography and its better-developed battery of methods
  • a great need for geographical knowledge (e.g. wealth creation, preserving and enhancing the quality of life, ensuring sustainability of the Earth and its peoples, responsible citizenship, leadership at local/ national/ international levels, etc.)
  • the core geographical concepts are more relevant than ever to understanding the world (e.g. environmental concerns, global-scale processes caused by globalisation, etc.)

Weaknesses of Geography

  • brought by the internal divisions that have developed in geography
  • nature and importance of geography not well understood
  • differences between physical and human geography and the shared core of concepts can be confusing
  • "Jack-of-all-trades, master of none": image problem and identity problem
  • lack of understanding of geography, undervalued by the general public and those in authority within education, academia, industry, government
  • lack of communication and understanding between physical and human geographers

Future Developments of Geography

  • "laissez-faire" scenario: existing specialisms would thrive, and numerous new specialisms would emerge
  • "separate-development" scenario: physical geography and human geography will become increasingly autonomous
  • "integrated-development" scenario: geographical theory development in a thriving core informs the two sub-disciplines and the specialisms which are at the same time influenced by ideas from outside the discipline (disciplinary identity is strengthened and there is a more focused external role for geography in relation to interdisciplinary activities)
Integrated-development scenario

The diverse aspects of geography are interlinked, interdependent, and mutually supportive. Uniquely geographical core concerns are connected to dynamic specialisms, which in turn contribute to interdisciplinary activities.