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2023 | Book

Research Directions, Challenges and Achievements of Modern Geography


About this book

This book identifies and discusses research directions, challenges and achievements in contemporary geography. It also documents the most current theoretical and methodological considerations undertaken by scientists representing various sub-disciplines of geography with particular reference to human geography. It was assumed that the thematic structure of the currently active International Geographical Union (IGU) problem commissions corresponds to the most relevant and current research directions in geography. Reflecting this assumption, the book consists of 14 chapters contributed by geographers representing 14 problem commissions of the IGU, which allows us to examine geography from different perspectives and to provide the reader with a complete overview of contemporary research issues in human geography.

The first part discusses contemporary research problems and issues related to scientific methodology and achievements of selected geographical sub-disciplines, including urban geography, agricultural geography, transport geography, and political geography, among others. The second part focuses on the interdisciplinarity of geography and the topics of global dimension undertaken by geographers such as global change, GIS and geospatial technology, marginalization, and environmental change. This part also discusses the internal relations between geographical specializations and their links with other related sciences, including geology, sociology, and economics. The third part discusses the holistic approaches of geography applied to particular regions, territories, or conditions (Africa, costal systems, geomorphology and local development).

Table of Contents


Research Issues and Challenges in Geographical Disciplines

Chapter 1. (Re-)Thinking Cities and the Urban: From the Global to the Local
This chapter aims to analyze the complex challenges and problems faced by cities and urban regions at the beginning of the twenty-first century and to present the IGU Commission on Urban Geography. The economic, social, and health crises of recent years have redrawn the socio-political and economic logics of the global, resulting in a process of transition and a search for new directions in the way cities are viewed, understood, and governed. Urban futures call for a more inclusive direction, a sustainable development strategy that aligns urbanization with territorial and social cohesion, inclusive economic growth and the environment, and that also helps to reduce social inequalities. Throughout this chapter, we will analyze the challenges currently faced by cities, and then present the IGU Commission on Urban Geography, whose current theme is (Re-)Thinking Cities and the Urban: from the global to the local. We will take stock of the main topics that have defined its strategy and present the themes that have been the focus of its conference debates since 2000.
María José Piñeira Mantiñán, Markus Hesse, Javier Delgado Campos
Chapter 2. From The New World to Multiple Possible Worlds: Political Geography, Geopolitics, and Border Studies
Political geographies engage with the relations between space and power, between geography and politics. It is one of the oldest subdiscipline of human geography. The chapter introduces political geography and the plurality of approaches in the discipline which have ranged from the scrutiny of the impact of physical geography on the politics and international relations of specific states, through the political aspects of regional science to the spatial analysis of elections and conflicts and the political economy of the state. More recent developments echo the broader turns in geography: the cultural turn with critical geopolitics and critical border studies, the feminist turn with feminist political geographies and feminist geopolitics, the material turn with more-than representational and more-than-human approaches and ethical ones.
Virginie Mamadouh, Adriana Dorfman
Chapter 3. New and Emerging Pathways for Transport Geography
Transport geography has become more diverse in terms of research themes, methods, and sources considered. New pathways for transport research have been initiated not only within the field but also by scholars from other disciplines, for instance, sociology and environmental science. In addition, the advent of the big data era has offered new research opportunities while also raising new methodological concerns. These new directions have sometimes shaken up transport geographers and forced them to change their perspective. In this context, this chapter considers advances, opportunities, and, sometimes, risks and disappointments induced by the following topics to transport geography: epistemology and social theories; urban transport; long-distance travel and the environment; the relationships between transport and spatial planning; linking spaces, places, and time; new (big) data sources; and visualising transport geography.
Frédéric Dobruszkes, Chia-Lin Chen, Julie Cidell, Ana Condeço-Melhorado, Andy Goetz, Tim Ryley, Thomas Thévenin
Chapter 4. Geography and Geographers in Place and Time: A View from the International Geographical Union’s Commission on the History of Geography
This chapter considers the evolution and significance of the study of geography’s history and philosophy from the perspective of the International Geographical Union's Commission on the History of Geography. Following a short introduction (Sect. 4.1), the chapter presents a brief history of the Commission (Sect. 4.2) focusing on its efforts to broaden and renew the study of the history and philosophy of geography from an international approach, which transcends national borders. Section 4.3 examines Geographers Biobibliographical Studies, the serial published under the auspices of the Commission since 1977, paying particular attention to its role in stimulating as well as recording research into geography’s history using the biographical method. Section 4.4 identifies significant themes in and approaches to the history and philosophy of geography since the creation of the Commission in 1968, devoting special scrutiny to tensions between international and national approaches to geography’s history, the links between geography and other historical disciplines, and the impact of the cultural, spatial, and global turns. The final section summarises the chapter and flags issues and areas of research that may enrich the Commission on the History of Geography’s research agenda in the near future.
Jacobo García-Álvarez, Marcella Schmidt-Muller di Friedberg, Elizabeth Baigent, Andre Reyes-Novaes, Federico Ferretti, Marie-Vic Ozouf-Marignier, Bruno Schelhaas
Chapter 5. Innovative Development of Modern Agricultural Geographic Engineering
Agricultural geography is an interdisciplinary field that combines agricultural science and geographical science. Agricultural Geographic Engineering (AGE) represents a deeper and more systematic application of the interdisciplinary study of geography and engineering in the modern agriculture and rural areas. With the innovation and development of modern agricultural science and technology, as well as the widespread implementation of agricultural engineering construction, there is a growing demand for systematic applied research aimed at addressing agricultural development issues and developing agricultural technologies. Consequently, research in AGE has become a critical aspect of agricultural engineering construction and high-quality development. AGE is a pivotal research domain that integrates modern planning concepts of agricultural geography, engineering technical measures of farmland improvement, and systematic management scheme of agricultural economy. Based on a review and summary of the AGE research over the past two decades, this paper expounds the scientific connotation, research content, research framework, research objectives and application pathway of AGE research, and prospects for future research directions.
Liu Yansui, Feng Weilun, Li Yuheng

The Interdisciplinary Nature of Modern Geography

Chapter 6. Integrating Geography for Global Sustainability and the Earth’s Future: The Role of International Geographical Union Commission on Geography for Future Earth
Recent decades have witnessed dramatically accelerated interactions between human and earth systems. To better understand the changing human and earth systems, and human–natural interactions and their dynamics of change, Future Earth was launched in 2014, providing a global research platform to support transformations toward sustainability. As the key to integrating geography, the coupled human and natural systems research is at the frontier of understanding the complex and dynamic human–natural interactions, which can provide new diverse contexts and sustainable development paths for the earth’s future. Various studies have been conducted at multiple scales to identify the relationships between human activities and earth surface processes, model the effects of humans on earth systems, and try to find the possible pathways for regional, national, and global sustainable developments. To better serve the earth’s future, the International Geographical Union Commission on Geography for Future Earth: Coupled Human–Earth Systems for Sustainability (IGU-GFE) was established in 2017 under the banner of IGU and Future Earth. As a platform for furthering global sustainability and promoting innovation of geographical sciences, IGU-GFE proposed five research areas as priorities for integrating geographical research: (1) integration of multiple water, soil, air, and ecosystem processes; (2) ecosystem services and human well-being; (3) feedback mechanisms of natural and social systems; (4) mechanism, approach, and policy of sustainable development; and (5) geo-data and modeling for sustainability.
Xutong Wu, Yiming An, Shan Sang, Yan Li, Wenwu Zhao
Chapter 7. Global Change and Human Mobility in the Anthropocene
In a period of increasing large-scale human effects on the planet, the named Anthropocene, the mobility turn has emerged as a crucial paradigm for social sciences. Since the end of the twentieth century, human mobility, associated with the globalisation process, has become a constitutive element of most of the social and economic changes, establishing new forms of relationship between space and society. Thus, persistent socioeconomic inequalities, armed conflicts, the nexus between migration and development, and the complexity of the drivers of mobility make Geography an essential science for interpreting the relationship between mobility and social sustainability. A good example of this is the importance mobility acquires for young people and their identity formation, as well as the prominence of tourism flows. In the opposite direction, in post-pandemic times, the (im)mobility forced new interpretations of this paradigm due to its restructuring role in a changing world involved in new political tensions and environmental reconfigurations.
Josefina Domínguez-Mujica, Dušan Drbohlav, MarIa Lucinda Fonseca, Daniel Göler, Zaiga Krišjāne, Wei Li, Cristóbal Mendoza, Gábor Michalkó, Comfort Iyabo Ogunleye-Adetona, Susana M. Sassone, Barbara Staniscia
Chapter 8. Contribution of Geography and Geospatial Technology to Cope with Hazards and Risks: Implications of GIS Development in Japan
The distribution and characteristics of geographical phenomena, including the location and magnitude of each threat and the coping capacity of people and societies, determine the risks of natural and social hazards. Therefore, Geography and geospatial technology play significant roles in investigating disaster hazards and risks, and their effective use helps cope with future disasters. This paper firstly reviews the relationship of hazard and risk issues with Geography and geospatial technology. Then it introduces relevant topics in Japan, which experienced various types of natural disasters, and where GIS (Geographical Information Systems) have developed in response to disasters. The topics include historical disasters, advancing stages of GIS, spatial data infrastructure provided by the central government, hazard maps produced by local governments, and recent changes in geographical education.
Takashi Oguchi
Chapter 9. Marginality Issues in a Time of World Reorganization
Forty years of research on marginality issues have largely focussed on economic and social issues and, to a lesser degree, environmental considerations. In the 2020s, however, it has become obvious that the current economic system, inherited from the Industrial Revolution, is no longer adequate: environmental and climate change concerns are growing, lasting longer and hitting harder; so too are global economic challenges such as threats to the global food chain, global debt and growing inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic is a symptom of the deeper “diseases” affecting our world. At the intersection of the human–nature relationship, we have to re-think the organization of our world, building on growing concerns and a rising consciousness in order to ensure our survival. Based mostly on the Commission’s previous and current research, this contribution explores marginality, marginalization and demarginalization and their diverse manifestations and how the field has evolved in recent decades. Going forward, the central focus is to better understand the persistence and evolution of marginality in the context of global and local change, environmental justice and sustainable development.
Steve Déry, Walter Leimgruber, Borna Fuerst-Bjeliš, Etienne Nel
Chapter 10. Land Use and Land Cover Changes in a Global Environmental Change Context—The Contribution of Geography
Although researchers from various scientific fields (e.g., biologists, ecologists, historians) have contributed to the development of Land Use and Land Cover Changes (LULCC) research, geographers have played a very important role, given their experience in complex land use studies, field research, statistical analyses, GIS and remote sensing, explaining the factors and processes generating change, as well as in educating the young generation in the spirit of environmental protection in relation to these changes, both from the natural and the socio-economic sciences’ perspective. The chapter aims to highlight the importance of geographical research in the field of land use and land cover changes in the past 25 years, alongside the future development directions in accordance with the Global Research Programs, the new technical and methodological research opportunities, and the increasing access to high-resolution satellite products.
Monica Dumitrașcu, Yukio Himiyama, Matej Gabrovec, Monika Kopecká, Lucie Kupková, Ivan Bicik

Territorial Dimension of Geographical Topics

Chapter 11. Coastal Systems: The Dynamic Interface Between Land and Sea
Coasts are some of the most dynamic environments on Earth. Their rich resources and appealing scenery mean that many are heavily populated. Coastlines and the adjacent marine zones are threatened by direct natural and anthropogenic stresses as well as land-use and land-cover changes in the catchments. Coasts need to be viewed as interactive systems, including both human and physical components. The sustainability of coastal environments depends on understanding these interactions. The pressures that intense human use brings are exacerbated by climate change, particularly observed and anticipated sea-level rise, which threatens further erosion and inundation. Ongoing studies, many utilising a range of modern sophisticated technologies, are focusing on discriminating natural patterns of change from trends that result from the impact of human activities. Methodological advances include interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary initiatives involving the application of remote sensing to coastal areas and the development of citizen science projects that include coastal communities.
Colin D. Woodroffe, Niki Evelpidou, Irene Delgado-Fernandez, David R. Green, Anna Karkani, Paolo Ciavola
Chapter 12. Advances in Karst Geomorphology and Hydrogeology Research in the Last Decade and Its Future Direction for Karst Land Use Planning
This chapter aims to review advanced research in karst, especially geomorphology and hydrogeology, in the last ten years (2013 and 2023) and the direction for developing its application of the morpho-hydrogeological approach in karst land use planning. Bibliometric analyses were conducted to get a picture of research themes that became the interest of karst researchers in the last decade. Advanced topics in geomorphology and its related subjects among others are the relationship between karst landform and aquifer development, speleothem proxy for paleoclimate reconstruction, carbon cycle, karst rocky desertification, and restoration. On the other hand, the recent research topic in karst hydrogeology is aquifer characterization, groundwater flow dynamic, solute and pollutant transport, nutrient flux and carbon flux through water cycle, vulnerability, and water resource protection. Advanced methods employed for data acquisition and analyses are remote sensing, GIS, geophysics, borehole, tracer test, hydrochemistry, stable isotopes, and modeling. The morph-hydrogeological approach is suggested for future research for karst land use planning. Other topics that need further elaboration are parameters for karst groundwater vulnerability, processes in karst critical zones, pollution transport and processes in tropical karst areas, and karst groundwater ecology.
Eko Haryono
Chapter 13. Achievements and Challenges of Geographical Research in Africa
In 2017, the International Geographical Commission on African Studies was established based on the need to promote geographical research on Africa by African and Africanist scholars ranging from social sciences to natural sciences but informed in the main by geographical, multi and interdisciplinary perspectives. Against this background, this chapter provides an overview of the achievements and challenges of geographical research in Africa based on a qualitative desktop study of geographical research. The chapter suggests that the achievements of geographical research in Africa in respect of theory, methodology and practice suggest a promising trajectory. Although there continues to be reliance on Western theories, approaches and methodologies, there is now the development of what can be considered uniquely African theoretical approaches which are challenging the dominance of Western thought in the study of Geography. Geographical research in African has strengthened its inter-disciplinary approach and this is considered important to the extent that is it enriches geographical theory and methodologies. In all parts of Africa, geographical research continues to be used to offer practical solutions to problems that affect people. This ranges from issues relating to planning to delivery of services. Most importantly the themes of the annual conferences which are organsied by the African Studies Commission, attempt to address theoretical, methodological and practical issues around geographical research in Africa.
Innocent MOYO
Chapter 14. Issues and Dilemmas of Local and Regional Development in Geographical Research
Local and regional development in geographic research focuses primarily on diagnosing the spatial, social and economic structure of specific territories, as well as planning policy issues. In doing so, the scale of research varies from single settlement units to entire regions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss contemporary issues and research methods in the field of local and regional development, carried out by the geography community. It analyses the literature on the subject and identifies the most important challenges facing local and regional development. These issues are discussed using selected examples. Finally, the activity of the IGU thematic commission dealing with the subject of such development was discussed.
Jerzy Bański
Research Directions, Challenges and Achievements of Modern Geography
Jerzy Bański
Michael Meadows
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Springer Nature Singapore
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