Geographic tools, including geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), satellite remote sensing, and popular geographics, “constitute a macroscope that allows scientists, practitioners, and the public alike to view the earth as never before.” That is the argument made by Jerome E. Dobson, a professor of geography at the University of Kansas and president of the American Geographical Society in his article “Through the Macroscope: Geography’s View of the World” in ArcNews.
Can geography regain its position as a recognized and respected science? Although geography has been abandoned or neglected by many elite American universities, Dobson says it is time for geography to reclaim its proper role in advancement of scientific knowledge and human intellectual development.
The macroscope is here today, and science is already changing in response to it. We are entering a new scientific era that may be every bit as exciting and enlightening as the revolutions prompted earlier by the microscope and telescope. Surely our professional lives will be richer, and science itself will gain, if we, who know the marvelous instrument best, insist on using it ourselves to tackle the greatest mysteries of our time. Surely we must insist on reviving the classical model in which geography is viewed as a fundamental discipline.
Although discoveries using the macroscope may come quickly, changing the culture of science may take decades, Dobson acknowledges. “Again, I urge, bring back geography! To science … education … business … and government! The benefits to science and society will be incalculable,” he writes.
In 2007 Dobson wrote “Bring Back Geography!”, another thought-provoking article for ArcNews.