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Keywords:

  • human geography;
  • school geography;
  • university geography;
  • disciplinary identity;
  • public intellectuals;
  • internationalization

This paper reviews the state of higher education human geography in contemporary Malaysia in relation to four main challenges: defending the unity of identity of higher education geography as a coherent and distinct discipline; ensuring the institutional survival of geography in higher education; enhancing the visibility of geographers as public intellectuals; and fostering the internationalization of human geography in Malaysia. It also suggests possible measures in responding to these. Moreover, while sharing the problems of developing higher education human geography experienced in other countries, Malaysia suffers most from national education policies that place lesser importance on the teaching of geography in schools, that stipulate a non-English (Malay) medium of instruction, and that have been late in espousing an outward looking research university concept. In summing up the prevailing conditions as depicting a mixed bag of benign contentment, hard-nosed pragmatism and continuing frustrations, it is uncertain whether recent policy changes to advance research environments in public universities can appreciably alleviate the fourfold challenges mentioned above.