Penn State

Stephen A. Matthews - associate professor of sociology, anthropology, and demography (courtesy in geography), and director of the Geographic Information Analysis Core, Population Research Institute, Social Science Research Institute, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Diffusing Geography: Essays for Peter Haggett

Author: A.D, Cliff, P.R. Gould, A.G. Hoare, and N.J. Thrift (Editors)

Book Description:

I first encountered the work of Peter Haggett (A Modern Synthesis) at the age of 16 while studying A-level geography and I knew then I would study geography at Bristol University. On the first day at Bristol all freshmen in geography were required to meet with members of faculty; a kind of welcome and orientation to the program. My first meeting and first handshake was with Peter Haggett. Three years later (1985) my cohort graduated; a year in which Peter Haggett served as the acting vice-chancellor of the university. On graduation day I walked on stage in Wills Building to shake Peter's hand, for just the second time. Peter was the reason I wanted to pursue geography at Bristol, he had welcomed me into the fold on my first day and he congratulated me on earning my degree on my last.

I only have to start reading one of Peter’s books to be transported back to 1982-85 and hear his voice in the lecture theatre. I could have selected any of Peter’s books for the University Library Promotion and Tenure Recognition Program; many are classics shaping the discipline of geography for many years. Several of his texts are very personal to me as they launched me into a holistic interest in peoples and places, my substantive interests in health and medical studies, and a methodological interest in spatial analysis. His books with Andy Cliff and others on disease diffusion and epidemiological analysis raised bar for both their comprehensiveness of study and their effective and efficient graphic design and layout (and they are in black and white). You should check out the Cliff and Haggett (1988) Atlas of Disease Distributions: Analytical Approaches to Epidemiological Data. But I didn’t select any of Peter’s books, rather I have selected Diffusing Geography, a book of essays honoring the life work of Peter Haggett. Peter helped raise awareness of quantitative geography in the academe and like him my interdisciplinary journey across the social sciences is based on spreading enthusiasm for geography and promoting an understanding of the relevance of place to individuals, groups and society.


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