Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New South Wales Fights for Physical Geography

Frequently human geographers, myself included, will overlook the place of physical geography in the overall field.  Sadly, many physical geographers have gotten the clue that they are not fully valued in Geography and therefore they have gone over to fields like geology or environmental studies.  Just look for a self-declared "geographer" doing terrain analysis for any space agency.  They all claim to be geologists.  Geography is losing out, badly, because of the sidelining of physical geography.

Fortunately, there are those who fight for physical geography.  The New South Wales Board of Studies is fighting against the newly purposed Australian national geography curriculum for schools because of its overemphasis of various forms of human geography at the expense of physical geography.  Right now it appears that New South Wales is the only state that cares about geography in Australia; all other states merely place geography into social studies classes.

The change of geography from its modern "five themes" definition (including its emphasis on physical geography) to a human-based global perspectives class has been discussed in Alex Standish's book Global Perspectives in Geography Curriculum.  The downfall of geography from the liberal education science to global perspectives has already hit England and the United States hard and now only New South Wales is fighting for traditional geography in Australia.  Good luck to them!

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