The International Geographical Union’s Applied Geography Commission focuses on improving understandings of the basic research-applied research interface and the needs of geographers based in universities, government, business, and non-governmental organizations for the services provided by professional organizations. It also considers the ways that the IGU and other existing geography organizations might better serve the enormous population of geographers in business, government, and NGOs.
Geography’s contributions to applied science are enormous but they are not always recognized. This is due at least in part to the fact that geography’s professional institutions (e.g., the IGU) are much more effective at meeting the needs of university-based geographers than the needs of geographers operating out of other settings. Perhaps the biggest disconnect is between our institutions and geographers in the private sector although some will argue that geographers in governmental organizations and NGOs are equally isolated. Reasons for these gaps are not fully understood but two possible explanations are proposed. First, our professional organizations may present themselves in ways that are more welcoming to university based professionals than to those based in private sector, governmental or non-government organization. Second, our organizations may make the “value added” by our conferences and organizational services more obvious to university administrators than to elected officials and public and private sector managers. These potential explanations and others deserve to be investigated.
- Develop a network of professional geographers and a system of information on applied geography in coordination with the Roma IGU Center and with the IGU Commissions and Study Groups.
- Develop information on NGOs. International organizations, private firms, and public agencies using geography, working in partnership with other IGU Commissions and study groups interested in applied geography. Information gathered includes addresses and emails for key persons and descriptions of the geographics skills and perspectives demanded.
- Organize meetings with the goal of producing publications on what geography can offer to public and private enterprises and on geographers views on sustainable development.
Long-Term Goals and Potential Benefits:
The potential benefits of better bridging the “town-gown gap” include:
- Enhanced opportunities for geographers in academic settings to contribute to the solution of professional practice problems faced by geographers working in non-academic settings.
- Greater interest in academic geography and its membership organizations by geographers in business, NGOs, and government.
- Improved access to employment in business and government and in NGOs for graduates of university geography programs.