2004-2005 Provost Lecture Series

Complex Geography and Geographical Complexity
Thursday, April 14, 2005
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Hemisphere Room
5th Floor, Hale Library

Dr. Keith C. Clarke
Professor and Chair
Department of Geography and
Director, Santa Barbara, NCGIA
University of California, Santa Barbara


Biographical Sketch:
DR. KEITH C. CLARKE is a research cartographer and professor. He holds the B.A. degree with honours from Middlesex Polytechnic, London, England, and the M.A. and Ph. D. from the University of Michigan, specializing in Analytical Cartography. He joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1996. Dr. Clarke's most recent research has been on environmental simulation modeling, on modeling urban growth using cellular automata , on terrain mapping and analysis, and on the history of the CORONA remote sensing program. Dr. Clarke is the former North American Editor of the International Journal of Geographical Information Systems , and is series editor for the Prentice Hall Series in Geographic Information Science. He is the author of the textbooks, Analytical and Computer Cartography (Prentice Hall, 1995), Getting Started with GIS (1997) and about eighty book chapters, journal articles, and papers in the fields of cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems. Appointed to the National Academy of Sciences Mapping Sciences Committee in 2004, Dr. Clarke has also chaired two National Research Council Ad Hoc Committees, and recently served on the USGS's Long Term Science planning team.


Abstract:
Geographers have, in the past, taken on rather simple problems or approached complex problem using simple (reductionist) approaches. Yet the scope of Geographical problems, from land use change forecasting, to understanding global change, to selecting sites for the safe disposal of radioactive waste, is immense. If geographical problems are so complex that they are not amenable to reductionist methods, then what tools are available to the Geographer? In this talk, I will review new methods and techniques that have only become feasible as problem solving tools in the era or highly distributed, ubiquitous/mobile and high performance computing. What are the problems most likely to yield to solutions, and which will remain as future challenges? What benefits do the much celebrated approach of complex systems theory hold for building approaches within geography? Finally, with a brave new generation of geospatial tools, and a changed geopolitical context in which geography now sits, what will be the grand challenges for the Geography of the future?