Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (12): 1735-1756.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1563-0

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

The progress of human geography in China under the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China

Gengzhi HUANG1(), Shuying LENG2,*()   

  1. 1. Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangdong Open Laboratory of Geospatial Information Technology and Application, Guangzhou 510070, China
    2. National Natural Science Foundation of China, Beijing 100085, China
  • Received:2018-04-16 Accepted:2018-05-25 Online:2018-12-20 Published:2018-12-20
  • Contact: Shuying LENG;
  • About author:

    Author: Huang Gengzhi (1986-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in urbanization, informal economies and labor geographies. E-mail:


This paper analyzes the role of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) in advancing human geography in China by focusing on five key research areas: land use, urban systems and urban agglomeration, economic globalization, climate change and social and cultural geographies. All NSFC-funded human geography programs related to these five topics from 1986 to 2017 comprise the sample for analysis, and the research topics, content, teams, and peer-reviewed journal publications supported by these programs are investigated. Specifically, this paper analyzes the NSFC’s promotion of the expansion of research topics in response to national developmental needs and the shifting frontiers of human geography research internationally, its enhancement of interdisciplinary research, and its contributions to the assembly of specialized research teams. The paper also reports important progress in Chinese human geography over the past 30 years through the institutional lens of the NSFC, revealing major characteristics and trends in the discipline. The paper concludes by calling for further collaboration between the research community and the NSFC for the development of a locally suitable and globally influential Chinese human geography.

Key words: National Natural Science Foundation of China, human geography, land use, urban systems, urban agglomeration, economic globalization, climate change, social and cultural geographies