Special issues for 2014 IGU Regional Conference and 50th anniversary of the founding of Geographia Polonica

tl_files/gp/zajawka.jpgWe have great pleasure in inviting you to read the contents of this special issue of Geographia Polonica as well as the upcoming one (vol. 87, issues 2 and 3 of 2014). The special issues have been prepared to coincide with Krakow’s hosting of the 2014 IGU Regional Conference. However, this year also marks a second important occasion for us - the 50th anniversary of the founding of Geographia Polonica.

At the same time it is our hope that the two issues will represent that most important voice in geography since the changes in our editorial team at the beginning of 2012, with special attention being paid in many cases to Central and Eastern Europe (including Poland). Our idea in this case has been to compile and present a series of articles written by key persons of the IGU (i.e. Chairs of the IGU Commissions, and Vice-Presidents of the IGU). My vision was for the Commission Chairs to each prepare and publish an article – theoretical or empirical, or even an essay, concerning the stage that has currently been reached by his/her field of interest (Commission subject/sub-discipline), some of the new trends therein, and future directions of research.

It was considered ideal if this could also underline certain suggestions regarding Central Europe and Poland as geographical locations, as well as Polish geography.  In the event, I find myself very grateful for the enthusiastic response my personal invitation has received from the Chairs. I was fully aware how complicated an undertaking it might prove for all the Commission Chairs to prepare articles over a relatively short period of time.

However, in spite of that we are delighted to have received more than 15 contributions to the project, and so are confident in our belief that the celebratory issues in question will come to be regarded as very important items in the field of geography, perhaps even serving as some kind of ‘flagships’ for years to come. We have added a few articles written by Polish authors (e.g. by the President of the Polish Geographical Society and the Chairman of Steering Committee for the IGU Krakow Regional Conference). 

Readers may recall that the main aim of the Krakow conference is to address “Changes, Challenges and Responsibility”. And modern geography does indeed face significant challenges centring around the recognition of and response to contemporary changes in the environment, society and the economy. Geographia Polonica is to be the journal contributing to the efforts undertaken, within the framework of this main topic. We would thus restate our belief and intention that the 2014  issues of Geographia Polonica will constitute an important and meaningful magnum opus, bringing together Commission Chairs from many disciplines, and in this way contributing to a better understanding of the changes and challenges faced by the world, and by geography, as well as the responsibility we all share.


City of Kraków

The most important matter would seem to be the future for geography. In this, education is of course of particular significance, in order that a next generation of geographers might be established. In this issue we present articles in this field entitled: “Towards an international approach to geography education” by Joop van der Schee, John Lidstoneand Clare Brooks, and “Emerging frontiers, challenges and changing professional avenues for geographers in the contemporary world” by Ram Babu Singh. These articles are followed by very important papers on the Geographical Olympiad, first on general issues as regards the Olympiad Geography (“Changes, challenges and responsibilities in geographical education: The International Geography Olympiad” by Lex Chalmers and Kathryn Berg) and second on the role of Poles in this competition (“Poles in the International Geography Olympiad (iGeo)” by Marek Barwiński, Tomasz Sawicki and Joanna Uroda). 

In this first special issue, I have decided to underline the role of geography and its future, and on this occasion to bring together important voices: on applied geography  (“The achievements and future potential of applied quantitative geography: A case study” by Mark Birkin, Graham Clarke, Martin Clarke and Alan Wilson), and the contemporary stage that has been reached by biogeography (“Biogeography in the early twenty-first century: A discipline with increasing significance for Earth’s changes and challenges” by Udo Schickhoff, Mark A. Blumler and Andrew C. Millington), as well as to follow that up with a completely new if maybe predictable idea of a world without GIS – an original/surprising voice about “A world without GIS? Post-GIS futures for the New Millennium” by Francis Harvey. Maybe thanks to this article, Geographia Polonica will enter into the new discussion on the new role of geography and new adaptations needed for the new post-GIS era. Probably we cannot imagine our world and geography without GIS, but if we compare the beginning of the GIS era with the stage that has now been arrived at, we may consider that now everyone can use and work on using GIS – hence this is not geographical advantage. This article is followed by the voice (reflections) of the President of the Polish Geographical Society – Antoni Jackowski – in his work entitled “Will geography remain geography? Pondering the state of geography”.

National Park of Biebrza River (NE Poland)
(source: Foto Polska)

As in all issues of Geographia Polonica, we have added new material concerning Poland on maps. Przemysław Śleszyński has prepared his maps and a brief explanation concerning “Delimitation and typology of functional urban regions in Poland based  on commuting, 2006”. He has also prepared an interesting interview with Professor Leszek Antoni Kosiński about “Geographia Polonica: A window onto the world”, on the occasion of the journal’s 50th anniversary. This material has been prepared to mark the year 2014 as the aforementioned 50th anniversary of Geographia Polonica. On the occasion of the IGU conference to be held in Krakow this year, we would also like to recall the one and only other occasion on which the IGU conference was held in Poland – in Warsaw in 1934. This major event of such great importance for Poland and Polish geography has been described by Jackowski et al. These authors underline the role of Polish geography in that world and the importance of the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland.

The second special issue of Geographia Polonica, together with the previous one, constitute important material especially prepared to coincide with Krakow’s hosting of the 2014 IGU Regional Conference and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Geographia Polonica – Poland’s oldest scientific journal in the field of geography published in English. This issue continues the previous one but with much more detailed articles concerning the different sub-disciplines of geography.


Salt mine "Wieliczka"

The first article concerns the very topical problem of the description of landscape by eco-critical metaphors. The paper by Elena dell’Agnese has a striking title: “Post-apocalypse now: Landscape and environmental values in The Road and The Walking Dead”. Two interesting approaches have been prepared in the field of Tourism Geography by the current Chair of the Commission Dieter Müller (“‘Tourism Geographies are moving out’ – A comment on the current state of Institutional Geographies of Tourism Geographies”) and the former chair and current Vice-President of the IGU – Jarkko Saarinen (“Tourism geographies: Connections with human geography and emerging responsible geographies”). These two voices are to be followed by an article focused on the connections between gender, migration and household services during the economic cycle of expansion and contraction undergone by Spain, a European country with large numbers of female immigrants employed in domestic work. The paper was written by Josefina Domínguez-Mujica (“The enduring connection between gender, migration and household services”).  The article entitled: “The geography of Japanese direct investment in the U.S. automotive sector: A review of the state of knowledge and some ideas for future research” by Neil Reid, is an exemplar of research showing such investments as one of the major problems of economic development and as an element of competition. Shigeko Haruyama and Yuji Taresawa have prepared an article on an example of the role of disasters in the contemporary world entitled “Local community activities for disaster reduction in regard to the 2011 tsunami”. According to the authors disaster mitigation is one of the most important issues faced by the world. However, good governance at the time of mitigation needs to be combined with the presentation and analysis of scientific results with the real aim of making future activity more effective. The next paper written by Marek Degórski presents the evolution of research paradigms in geography related to the study of relationships between humans, environment and place, and their tenacious role in functional and spatial analyses of the environmental megasystem (“Relationships between human-environment-space of place – The evolution of research paradigms in geography and the challenge of modernity”). A paper by the Vice-President of the IGU, Giuliano Bellezza is an essay on the enlargement of the European Union and the role of Poland and Eastern Europe in the EU from the “west-European perspective” especially from the Italian one (“Poland and Eastern Europe in the European Union”). He dedicated greater attention to two of these countries, Poland and Italy, which are traditionally friendly, and were even more so following the election of John Paul II.


Old Town in Cracow

The Chair of the IGU Commission on Karst, Elena Trofimova, has proposed an article presented as an interesting example of a research project carried out in the field of karst studies as “A new approach to the assessment of cave environmental changes (As exemplified by caves in the Muradimovskoe Uschelie Natural Park)”. In the Varia section we decided to present a project prepared by the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences in recent years (the Institute was the lead partner of the ReNew-Town project under the Central Europe programme), as an example of research prepared with the participation of local and regional authorities, which in contemporary terms we could call ‘applied geography’ (“ReNew-Town – New Post-socialist city: Competitive and attractive” by Grzegorz Węcławowicz). We have also prepared material to mark the fact, noted above, that the year 2014 is the 50th anniversary of Geographia Polonica. For this issue Jacek Wolski has prepared an interesting and important interview with Professor Leszek Starkel entitled “Polish geography: Does the past have a future?” As in all issues of Geographia Polonica, we have presented new material concerning Poland on maps. Przemysław Śleszyński has prepared his maps and a brief explanation concerning “The diversity of terrain and land cover in Poland”.

Both issues together (vol. 87, issues 2 and 3 of 2014) show the variety of geographical studies and contemporary world problems and thus constitute interesting and important elements for inclusion in discussions about our planet. In both issues we have tried to give emphasis to Polish voices on geography, especially their role in iGEO and IGU, and to highlight certain suggestions regarding Central Europe and Poland as geographical locations, as well as highlighting Polish geography with its Geographia Polonica as a window onto the world. I hope that these two issues will also provide important material for researchers, students and maybe for dissidents, authorities and planners. Many of the published articles are most important starting points for new discussions, maybe even for the creation of new concepts and theories.

I would like once again to express my extreme gratitude to all the authors who have taken up my personal request to collaborate with us all here in the preparation of Geographia Polonica. We are confident in our belief that the celebratory issues in question will come to be regarded as very important items in the field of geography, perhaps even serving as some kind of ‘flagships’ for years to come. I hope you will find many papers of interest to you and that, even after the passage of many years, you will come back and read them with great interest.

I wish you all a very pleasant read.

Marek Więckowski

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