Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2012

Document Number

Working Paper 2012-04

Abstract

Members of a discipline share common research questions, values they use to address normative issues, and a set of research methods. Collectively, the features of a discipline that are common to all of its members constitute its core. Disciplines – and their specializations – can also be defined by their boundaries. However, in the case of regional science, the boundaries are fuzzy. Because regional science has been influenced by economics, geography, urban and regional planning, sociology, political science, public administration, and transportation engineering, it overlaps to a significant degree with these “parent disciplines” so that clear cut boundaries do not exist. This article explores the core and, to a lesser degree, boundaries of regional science. No definition of a discipline should be considered final because its boundaries and core are subject to change. Because of this, it is necessary from time to time to re-examine our discipline. Just as disciplinary cores and boundaries are dynamic, so too are the pressing needs of the societies that research supports. Ideally, disciplinary shifts occur in response to societal needs, in ways that underscore rather than undermine disciplinary relevance. Therefore, the backdrop of societal relevance provides the context for our reconsideration of regional science’s core and boundaries.

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