for cartophiles only

Not a Pittsburgh post at all... but since we are all map-obsessed these days: has an interesting article about how the The Web cognoscenti are mashing up data with maps to create a new way to communicate. Actually I just wanted to use the word cognoscenti in a post. I was once told by a reputable source that the reason Pitt closed its geography department some years ago, as happened at a lot of schools around the country, was that the field had ostensibly reached the end of the line.. i.e. there was nothing else left to 'discover'. Then GIS came along.... amazing that. I can't find a reference, but does anyone know when the Pitt geography deparment was closed?


2 Responses to "for cartophiles only"

Mark Stroup said... 7/04/2006 12:11 PM

I don't know when they closed the department, but I remember working for Pitt back in 1987. I had just moved to the University Relations office on the 20th floor of the Cathedral. Being an assistant editor they stuck me in what appeared to be an old store room.

It was actually the former head of the geography department's office. He was nearly retired and sick and may or may not have been coming back, so I got to use his office.

I cleaned up the place up a bit, shelved some books -- some really cool stuff -- and stayed there for a few months. Whenever the publications editor visited me, though, he had to confront the eminence of a six-foot oak desk, a prominent library, and various impressive bibelots. This would not do, of course. I was soon moved to a cubicle.

The geography professor never came back and the department closed within a couple of years.

globalburgh said... 7/04/2006 3:16 PM

Many geography departments closed in the 1970s, though Pitt's program may not have survived the university budget crisis of the mid-1960s. I did some searching of my own and the best I can find are a few geography Ph.Ds in the mid-60s.

You might e-mail William R. Stanley and ask him:

Geography went into to decline because the social engineering revolution of the 1950s fell out of favor. Logical positivism and the quantative revolution yielded to Marxism and critical geography. There was also a strong movement to disassociate geography with its past of environmental determinism and imperialism (particularly concerning geopolitical thought).

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