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Keywords:

  • synthesis;
  • science policy;
  • disciplinary specialization;
  • habits of the mind

The American scientific community currently is being challenged to provide the basic and applied research that is necessary for the nation to make better decisions related to the environment. Concern with the environment has led to the demand for a more synthetic perspective, one that identifies linkages among the cultural, social, political, economic, physical, biological, chemical, and geological systems that govern our world. Geography has a historic opportunity to position itself at the nexus of the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, and to lead the search for synthesis. In order to achieve this goal, however, we must leave the isolated intellectual realms into which we have retreated, dampen the fires of criticism that have polarized us, rethink the way graduate education is structured, foster new networks of communication, and develop a disciplinary culture that values both specialized analytical research and broader integrative research.