Main Topics of Discussion
After in-depth discussion, the local committee in Kiel agreed on a number of key topics that should appropriately highlight the innovative approach of ‘Kiel 2019’ while, nevertheless, adequately reflecting the full scope of our subject. We are convinced that we can set new priorities with a focus on conceptual debates in the contact zone of science, planning, and school practice (key topics 1 to 4) as well as in the field of digitization. It is particularly important for us to stress critical perspectives on geography, not only in dealing with in our lead topic but also as a cross-sectional task. This applies similarly to other key themes, such as „applied geography“ and „geography and education“, which should by no means only be dealt with by the supposedly responsible group of colleagues. We strived for diversity in all key topic areas. Please also note that the keywords are by no means exhaustive.
The main topics in detail:
1. Changes and new beginnings: theories and concepts of a changing geography
50 years after the historical Geographer’s Day in Kiel, the focus is on a general inventory and evaluation of the theoretical, methodological, and social changes and disruptions that have shaped our subject since then, and on the development of future perspectives for geography and its sub-disciplines. We will discuss new conceptual approaches, fundamental research orientations and central challenges and reflect on the various scientific understandings of geography. Physical geography, human geography, applied geography and geography didactics participate in these debates on the self-understanding of geographical research and teaching in dealing with its basic questions, its history and its current responsibility.
2. Geographies from a Critical Perspective
An engaged criticism of injustices, open or hidden structures of power and exploitation is one of the core concerns of geography. Critical geography is based on concepts from postcolonial, feminist and Marxist theory and deals, for example, with the relationship between power and space, authoritarian political tendencies or the transformation of the state. We will discuss our scholarly positioning in relation to current social issues such as climate justice, European asylum policy, militarization, populist movements or the increasing touristification or financialization of urban and regional development. Last but not least, the critical examination of one’s own research practice and the ethical reflection of one’s own positionality play an important role in the further development of geography into a science that not only accepts one’s own social responsibility, but also actively engages in it.
At the historic Geographer’s Day in Kiel in 1969, many geographers called for a greater practical relevance of geography and a focus on applied topics. 50 years later, applied geography has found its firm place in planning practice and makes a substantial contribution to overcoming concrete social challenges. There are numerous current questions to which applied geography can contribute scientifically substantiated strategies from the management of the retail trade to the integration of climatological dimensions into planning to the guarantee of medical care in urban and rural areas. However, the discussion will also focus on the self-understanding of applied geography, its relationship with geographical research, and the future development of geographical tasks and labor markets.
4. Geography and Education
Under the heading „Geography and Education“, specialist sessions with high practical relevance for schools will be held on specific topics of geographical teaching and its staging options, including the use of innovative methods as well as conventional and IT media. The understanding of the subject in the present and future will be discussed as well as how to deal with spatial complexity and controversy. A large number of contributions from current geography teaching research see themselves as impulses for a geographical education that takes up paradigms, spatial categories and current social challenges and is oriented towards learning and values. „Geography and Education“ is viewed from a research perspective, from the perspective of teacher training and from a learner-oriented approach to teaching. Social change, the educational mission and the responsibility of geographical education – this is, so to speak, the cross-cutting field that characterizes a large number of sessions on school practice and geographical didactic research. In the keynote, school geography and geography teachings are reflected in their exciting developments since the Geographer’s Day in Kiel, ´69
5. Geography and Global Change
The shaping of human-environment relations in times of great socio-ecological challenges, which affect all levels of society, concerns core questions of geography and all sub-disciplines. The further development of concepts and methods, above all from an inter- and transdisciplinary perspective, is central to this and in some respects sees itself as part of a social-ecological transformation that also affects the self-image of science. The investigation of climate change and its implications and impacts is a growing area of work for geographers who are in demand to shape the future of infrastructures, health care systems, agriculture and other important areas of public life. At the same time, global change has a significant impact on the vulnerability of people and societies as well as on their ability to respond to change. Adaptation measures and other policies, for example in the area of resource scarcity, entail social impacts and conflicting goals, which hold the potential for conflict and which in turn are investigated and accompanied by geographers.
6. Environmental Processes and Modelling
The expert sessions on this key topic discuss innovative approaches to the observation, investigation and modelling of spatial processes. One focus is on approaches to scale spanning modelling of land surface dynamics, focusing on processes of soil erosion and landscape degradation. A further focus is the collection and evaluation of spatially and temporally differentiated environmental geodata by means of satellite remote sensing and drone based close range sensing. Case studies will also be used to present and discuss applications for assimilating in situ remote sensing data into environmental models.
7. Society, Population and Economy on the Move
Society, population, and economy are in a constant state of change. Migration movements lead to new spatial and social structures, present politicians and civil society with new challenges and initiate new social, cultural and institutional developments. Geographical developments change or intensify existing inequalities between North and South or city and country, change the functions of spaces and make new forms of political-planning control necessary. The expansion of the knowledge economy and global production networks, the dynamics of the world of work, as well as the change in regional policy strategies present economic geography with new conceptual and empirical challenges. Finally, the role of the state, the market, and other forms of coordination in the midst of this change must be redefined time and again.
8. Urban-Rural Worlds
The 25 expert sessions on this topic deal on the one hand with the „worlds“ of cities and rural areas, and on the other hand with economic, social and cultural processes in the supposedly very different sections of space in connection with dependencies and interactions. Growth and shrinkage, approaches to renewal, social inequality, migration and integration, existential foundations and critical perspectives on political controls, practices and political actors: Topics and conceptual approaches in the expert meetings cover a broad spectrum of geographic research. In particular, current issues of land and social housing policy as well as alternative concepts of urban housing policy are dealt with, rural outlying areas in Germany and Europe, inter alia within the framework of migration processes, and current processes in urban outlying areas in the global South in times of financialization and neoliberalism are discussed.
9. Digitization and Geography
On the one hand, the further development of digital processes opens up new possibilities for the acquisition, processing and presentation of geodata. Big data, virtual reality, new methods of earth observation and geodata analysis, as well as open cartographic tools such as Open Street Map offer numerous new instruments and possibilities for geographic research and teaching. Furthermore, our lives are changing with the increasing penetration of digitization in our everyday lives. Retail, transport, urban development, tourism, social communication or the formation of political opinions are currently undergoing profound digital structural change. For geography, the challenge now lies in the analysis, prediction and control of the resulting new spatial structures.