Economic and Business Geography


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What is Geography?

Geography, at the start of the new century, is a comparatively small but lively and challenging academic discipline providing a distinctive approach to many of today's societal problems and issues: economic and social inequality; cost and quality of health care delivery systems, urban and suburban growth; efficient transport systems, patterns of food supply and hunger, health and disease, education and child labor; environmental and pollution problems; economic impacts of natural catastrophies (floods, earthquakes), appropriate utilization of water and energy resources; local and locational repercussions of new communications technologies; the activities and behaviors of transnational corporations; and many more.

Economic & Business Geography

The Geography Department has over the years developed a strong emphasis on Economic and Business Geography. [See also: Morgan D. Thomas and The Washington School of Economic Geography]. A broad definition of this sub-discipline would include a reference to the way in which individuals and enterprizes organize their economic activities in space and the extent to which society recognizes the socio-economic impacts of such activities across space and uses its institutions to influence these interdependencies and impacts. Such emphases lead almost naturally to three different perspectives of the spatial structure of economic activities, namely
  1. the perspective of location and spatial distribution of economic activities, including questions of "place", "locality", "site and situation" and land use;
  2. the perspective of spatial interaction and economic dependence and interdependence (exchange, trade, transportation, migration, information and capital flows, communication networks and the economic geography of the Internet); and
  3. the perspective of economic change in a spatial context (regional growth or decline, technological innovation, processes of structural change [i.e. long-run compositional and interdependence changes in the economy] regional economic development etc.).
Thus, we draw not only from geographic theory, explanatory frameworks and analytical methods, but also from economics, business administration and other disciplines. We are interested in practical problems and 'real world' issues in the private and public sectors and try to connect these problems and issues to established and emerging bodies of theories and methodologies in order to enhance our understanding and the bases for potential intervention.

In addition to many remaining similarities, Economic and Business Geography today looks quite different from what is was just a few years ago. A much increased emphasis is now placed on societal and economic facets such as

  • Communications-related transactions in the space economy, from face-to-face communication via paper-and-pen to digital, GIS and Internet based presentation and exchange of information
  • The differentiation, turbulence and rapid restructuring in the Service sector
  • How to run your own small business
  • The breakdown of traditional boundaries and the surge of boundary-spanning economic activities and transactions, manifested by international economic flows, inter-organizational strategic alliances, and collaboration and teamwork at all levels covering highly differentiated spatial realms.
  • The many changes in the nature of jobs and work
  • The peculiarities of systems of economic activities in rural areas, urban places and particular 'economic localities'.

Given these relatively new trends, Economic and Business Geography is also still about

  • logical, critical and rigorous thinking
  • numbers, facts and maps, some mathematics and statistics
  • good and concise writing
  • interacting with your peers and your instructors
  • contributing to this discipline, which today, e.g., means to establish your own Web site (not just to sit there, with sharpened pencil, passively waiting for your instructor's stream of wise words...)

Many of our students find employment as research analysts, resource specialists, regional or location analysts, planners, economists, or marketing specialists in local, regional or national public agencies, consulting services, financial institutions, airlines and other transportation related companies and in many other types of private sector firms.

A student's undergraduate program in Economic and/or Business Geography would begin with Geography 207 and require some early general introductory background in Economics (Econ. 200/201). Students are then encouraged to formulate their own more specialized programs depending on their interests and select courses accordingly and with the advice from faculty and advisors.

Selected Definitions of "Economic Geography":

Selected textbooks in Economic & Business Geography


Economic & Business Geography Courses, Programs and Departments at other Universities: