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Best of Times, Worst of Times: A Tale of Two (Spanish) Geographies

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This paper presents an analysis of the current situation of Spanish geography in higher education. The authors show that Spanish geography has undergone a profound transformation in the new democratic era, resulting in a thriving community struggling to find its place amongst other disciplines. To assess the current health of the discipline in higher education, they discuss the two ends of the spectrum as perceived by many Spanish geographers: either geography is losing its place in Spanish academe (the worst of times, in Dickens's words), or it is starting a new golden age (the best of times). What was found is that the current situation does not necessarily involve a weighted combination of these extreme views, as one would be tempted to think: it might be that geography is actually at one of the poles. It was also found that the divide between classical physical and human geography is widening, with very different views on what geography is about, its societal role, and the future strategies to advance the discipline. In view of this diversity and the need to implicate themselves in this debate, the authors end up providing some suggestions from their own perspective. Their proposals to strengthen geography in higher education are both strategic and methodological, without forgetting that the problems geography faces in higher education are not particular to geography -but are shared by the arts and social sciences in technocratic societies.
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Keywords: History of geography; Spain; geography education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Environmental Sciences (ICAM), University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain 2: Department of Geography and Sociology, University of Lleida, Spain

Publication date: 01 January 2007

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