Research Articles

Retrospect and prospect of Geographical Sciences in China:A comparison with the Strategic Directions for Geography in the USA

  • 1. College of Tourism and Geographical Sciences, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China;
    2. College of Social Development, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China;
    3. Key Laboratory of Educational Information for Nationalities (Yunnan Normal University), Ministry of Education, Kunming 650500, China;
    4. School of Geographical Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China;
    5. Yunnan Chinese Language and Culture College, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China
Sun Jun (1985-), Ph.D Candidate, specialized in theory and history of geography, ethnical geography. E-mail:

Received date: 2012-10-16

  Revised date: 2012-11-24

  Online published: 2013-11-14

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40761001; No.41071105; No.41261033; Innovation Me­thod Fund of China, No.2007FY140800; National Philosophy Social Science of China, No.BHA100058


Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences (UCP), published by the National Research Council (USA), and its comments in The Professional Geographer propose that uppercase and plural "Geographical Sciences" (GS) is the strategic direction for geography in the next decade for better understanding of our rapidly changing planet. According to these comments, UCP valued technologies and tools excessively ("task"), and did not pay much attention to methodology ("discipline"). Actually, both "task" and "discipline" are geographical wings, especially in the time of "big science". Enlightenment from UCP and its comments is the strategic direction that should be balanced between "task" and "discipline", GS should be a three-dimensional construct of a disciplinary system, methodology, and technologies and tools, and this system should be scientific humanism based on scientific spirit and directed by humanism. During the last 60 years, Chinese geographers devoted themselves to GS, including practice and theory. Obviously progress and outlook are proposed as interdisciplinary GS, Earth Surface Sciences (ESS) and Geographical Construction (GC). The disciplinary system of GS is very complex, and is composed of such human knowledge domains as sciences, technologies, engineering, and philosophy. The main mission is to research the open, complex, and macro earth system (not only scientifically, but also humanistically), and one significant methodology is "comprehensive integration of qualitative and quantitative means" (CIQQM). At the same time, another changing direction in Chinese geography is Human-Economic Geography (HEG).

Cite this article

SUN Jun, PAN Yujun, TANG Maolin, WU Youde . Retrospect and prospect of Geographical Sciences in China:A comparison with the Strategic Directions for Geography in the USA[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2013 , 23(6) : 963 -977 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-013-1056-0


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