Europa in einer Welt im Wandel: Tagungsbericht und wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen / 51. Deutscher Geographentag Bonn, 6.-11. Oktober 1997. Im Auftrag der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geographie:

Band 1: hg. von Hans Gebhardt, Günter Heinritz und Reinhard Wiessner: Europa im Globalisierungsprozeß von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Stuttgart 1998. 216 S.

Band 2: hg. von Günter Heinritz, Reinhard Wiessner und Matthias Winiger: Nachhaltigkeit als Leitbild der Umwelt- und Raumentwicklung in Europa. Stuttgart 1998. 239 S.

Band 3: hg. von Richard Dikau, Günter Heinritz und Reinhard Wiessner: Global Change - Konsequenzen für die Umwelt. Stuttgart 1998. 223 S.

Band 4: hg. von Klaus-Achim Boesler, Günter Heinritz und Reinhard Wiessner: Europa zwischen Integration und Regionalismus. Stuttgart 1998. 212 S.

This review of the four volume proceedings (Tagungsbericht und wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen) of the 51. German Geography Conference (51. Deutscher Geographentag), published in 1998, is presented in English, because I want to make one particular point I believe might be quite important. Almost 2000 geographers of the German speaking realm and beyond congregated in Bonn between October 6 and 11, 1997 to share their research and ideas on "Europa in einer Welt im Wandel" (Europe in a Changing World), the main theme of the conference. In the Foreword, G. HEINRITZ and R. WIESSNER emphasize that this theme is far too broad and involved as to be confined to the profession of academic geography alone. In fact, about one fourth of the 125 listed 'authors and editors' of the proceedings come from non-university backgrounds and include experts from private indus-try, government administrations and government research and planning offices, public schools and other pedagogic institutions, United Nations agencies etc. Also, the chosen theme is certainly not limited by the geographic boundaries of Germany either. On the contrary, as the editors correctly maintain in fact, "the processes and problems of the political, economic, and social integration of Europe make it necessary to focus our attention not only on the whole of the European Union but also, after the political changes in Eastern Europe, on the entire continent as well. In addition, inner-European problems must not divert our attention from the global context either. Europe finds herself within the tides of global processes of political, economic (and ecological) change in which she is both a promoter and recipient of world-wide stimuli" (Vols. 1-4, 7). Indeed, the number of international contributors is quite impressive with a total of some 33 of the 125
listed authors representing more than 10 countries including Russia, the United States, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Great Britain, and France. A particularly numerous delegation came from Switzerland (14) and also from the Netherlands (9). With all this internationalism intended and achieved at the confer-ence, however, one aspect of globalism surprisingly seems to have been overlooked when the proceedings were planned, and this is the point I want to make at the outset: anyone who does not read German in the many non-German speaking European countries from Spain to Russia and Italy to Finland, and particularly in France, and certainly in the far flung English speaking world, and in the remainder of the 'global' community of geographers the world over, has almost no clue whatsoever of what went on in Bonn when thumbing through these proceedings, because of the 64 professional papers read at the 17 sessions plus the additional 11 introductory and the lead and Fest-lectures, as well as the 4 state-of-the-art summaries, only 8 appear in English. This is quite a shortcoming that could have been easily remedied by adding brief abstracts of content (perhaps in several major European lang-uages, but at least in English), or, at the very least, by includ-ing translations of the titles of sessions and their respective papers presented, maybe in a separate table of contents at the end of each volume. This, of course, would have incurred additional expenses for the publishers and their sponsors, but the benefit, I believe, would have been obvious: multi-lingual abstracts (or tables of content) would open at least a peep hole into the accumulated wisdom on globalization processes presented in these proceedings to the rest of the supposedly 'globalizing' world, which in turn might induce more inter-ested persons and/or institutions to read and use, and even purchase the proceedings outside the German-language realm as well. Since in this case the waters are under the bridge, however, one might perhaps consider non-German abstracts for future ,Deutsche Geographentag' proceedings, for example of the 1999 Hamburg meetings which again were held under a 'globalizing' motto: "locally based - globally linked" (lokal verankert - weltweit vernetzt).
The proceedings of the 1997 Geographentag in Bonn are organized around four main themes each of which is presented in a separate volume. All four themes, however, reflect the overall topical umbrella of 'globalization' as stated in the main introduction by H. GEBHARDT (Vol. 1, 23). Volumes 2 and 3 constitute something of a central block as both deal with environmental, i. e. largely physical-geographical and socio- and economic-environmentally related questions. This two volume central environmental block stands out as clearly interrelated, since "Global Change - Konsequenzen für die Umwelt" (Global Change - Consequences for the Environment) (Vol. 3) is presented as a necessary follow-up of "Nachhaltigkeit als Leitbild der Umwelt- und Raumentwicklung in Europa" (Sustainability as a Model Vision for Environmental and Regional Development in Europe) (Vol. 2). The lead paper of Vol. 3 by H. GRASSL (of the World Climate Research Program in Geneva) titled "Nachhaltigkeit braucht Forschung zum Global Change" (Sustainability Needs Research of Global Change) (Vol. 3, 12) ties the knot between Vols. 2 and 3.
The prominence of global environmental research at the Bonn conference is further strengthened by the two official special 'Fest'- or Highlight-Lectures (Festvorträge) of the conference, both of which are devoted to environmental aspects: "Von UNCED bis HABITAT II - Nachhaltige Entwicklung auf dem Prüfstand" (From UNCED to HABITAT II,Sustainability under Scrutiny) by KLAUS TÖPFER, then still (German) federal minister, Department of Regional Planning, Construction, and Urban Development (Bundesminister für Raumordnung, Bauwesen und Städtebau), now heading the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi (Vol. 2, 31-37), and "Die Verantwortung der Geographie und der Wissenschaft für Europa and die Welt im Wandel" (Responsibility of Geography and Science Towards A Changing Europe and the World) by BRUNO MESSERLI of Switzerland (Vol. 3, 22-31). Furthermore, of the 'state-of-the-art' summary lectures, newly instituted at the Bonn conference to be held regularly from now on at future German national geography meetings every two years, all four at Bonn deal with physical geographical themes: coastal morphology (H. BRÜCKNER), landscape ecology (T. MOSIMANN), plant geography (M. RICHTER), and structural geomorphology (K.-H. SCHMIDT). Brief summaries of the four state-of-the-art lectures appear in Vol. 3 (207-216). The remarkable and noticeable emphasis on environmental and physical-geographical themes at the Bonn Geographentag seems, among other things, to reflect the role the city of Bonn was given to play in international environmental research and politics
after losing its status as the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany to Berlin. Bonn was chosen to house several secretariats of United Nations environmental agencies (UNV, Unep/CSM, UNFCCC, the UN Information Center UNIC, and, since January 1999, UNCCD). Precisely on October 6, 1997, perhaps by sheer coincidence, but nevertheless on opening day of the German Geographentag, the German Federal Government (still at Bonn) together with the United Nations celebrated the World-Habitat-Day. In his Fest-lecture, K. TÖPFER emphasizes the important contributions of German environmental research in this internationally significant problem area and signifies the intellectual links between this Geographentag of 1997 and the international 'Environment and Development' conference (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro back in 1992, the 'HABITAT II' conference in Istanbul in 1996, and the so-called 'World Climate Summit', the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (held in October 1999 in Bonn), as well as the planned 'EXPO 2000' (Man-Nature-Technology) in Hannover, and 'URBAN 21' (Cities of the Future) in Berlin, both to be held in 2000. The Bonn Geographentag with its strong emphasis on physical-geographical and environmental research has indeed shown the important contributions German (and other European) geographers make in this perhaps most imminent of problem areas of our world today. The titles of the sessions contained in Vol. 2 are (in translation) "Concepts of Sustainable Development"; "Resources and Sustainable Capacity"; "Environmental Strain and Hazards"; and "Environmental Planning and Environmental Politics". Vol. 3 contains sessions on "Endangering Natural Resources"; "Environmental History - Environmental Scenarios"; and "From Environmental Reality to Models".
The central two volume environmental and physical-geographical package of the proceedings is flanked by human geographical themes of Volumes 1 and 4: Vol. 1 deals with economic and social geographical topics while Vol. 4 is devoted to geo-political and regional-political themes. "Europa im Globalisierungsprozeß von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft" (Europe and the lobalization Processes of Economy and Society. (Vol. 1) contains presentations that deal with globalization themes in the economic and social arena of Europe. The lead lecture is by LOTHAR SPÄTH of whom curious non-German readers who are not familiar with the ins and outs of the Who is Who in Germany might want to know a bit more so as to understand why he was chosen for a prominent guest lecture at the Geographentag. In the 'list of authors and editors' he is presented as chairman of the board of a relatively unknown East German company, but nothing else. It might do honor to honored guest speakers at the Geographentag to be introduced not just on stage but later in the printed proceedings as well for what they are known for, say former Ministerpräsident (Prime Minister or Governor) of a federal state in the case of SPÄTH, or (former) Minister (Secretary) of the Federal Government etc. in the case of TÖPFER (along the same argument: what makes ALFRED GROSSER and BRUNO MESSERLI so important to be invited to speak to the Geographentag at large?). In Vol. 1, anyway, LOTHAR SPÄTH skillfully and artfully sets the framework for the research and discussions to follow. As he argues, it is very important from the outset, whether 'globalization' is considered, perhaps by ideologues, as a mere catchword or slogan introduced by other ideologues for their own benefit and excuse for unpleasant consequences of their mischievous machinations in international capitalism, or whether it is for real and here to stay, and, for all practical purposes, irreversible through global networks, technology, and free trade, and the international flow of capital (and people for that matter). It is equally important, whether 'globalization', if indeed for real, is perceived as a nightmare ("Schreckgespenst") or as a challenge and opportunity for a growing international division of labor, possible economic benefits the world over, and the weakening of national governmental interference in economic and social engineering.
Vol. 4, finally, is devoted to geo-political and regional-pol-itical topics under the title of "Europa zwischen Integration und Regionalismus" (Europe Between Integration and Regionalism). The lead lecture for this volume is by the polit-ical scientist ALFRED GROSSER of Paris, author of an important book on the controversial role of newly reunited Germany in Europe (Deutschland in Europa, Weinheim 1998). GROSSER raises important questions and he does it with humor and in a very tactful way. "Gibt es eine Identität Europas ?" (Is there a European Identity?) is the title of his lecture. Debating the difficulty of European integration, he emphasizes the importance of 'culture' in Europe, which, however, is far more than cultural artifacts such as architecture, music, or poetry. Culture is also the knowledge about 'the Other', and culture is above all a common memory of the good and the bad of a common past. It is eminently important of what goes on in the minds of people, of how they perceive Europe, or 'the Other', or themselves and their own national past and present for that matter. Quoting the words of the great European JEAN MONET, GROSSER argues that, truly, "nothing can be achieved without people", but that MONET's additional statement is equally true, namely that "nothing lasting remains without institutions". In the case of uniting Europe, this means above all the articles of unification, from the Treaty of Rome to the agreements of Maastricht and Schengen, and the introduction of a common currency, the EURO, including its iron-clad timetable. GROSSER sets the tone for this last volume of the proceedings which tackle explosive topics: "International Migration and its Ramifications" (Session 1); "Old and New Nationalism and Regionalism and the New Political Landscape in Europe" (Session 2); and "Reducing Disparities in Europe - Continuing Regional Politics ?" (Session 3). For persons interested in current and future geo-political and regional-political trends in the European Union and beyond, this volume 4 constitutes an excellent reader. Again, sadly, only 3 of the 18 papers of Vol. 4 appear in English. Even GROSSER's important lead lecture was held and is reproduced here in German only.
While professional geographical research papers predominate in all four volumes, geography-educational presentations are also included. All volumes but Vol. 3 (Global Change - Consequences for the Environment) contain one session on educational problems and prospects of the respective topics discussed in the 'professional' sessions. Vol. 1 with its emphasis on change in Europe due to globalization processes, session 5 is devoted to "Heimat und Welt - Wandlungen didaktischer Perspektiven im Globalisierungsprozeß" (Homeland and World - Changes of Educational Perspectives Through Globalization Processes, Vol. 1, 183-209). Session 5 in Vol. 2 (Sustainability as a Model Vision For Environmental and Regional Planning in Europe) is titled "Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Europe - eine zentrale Perspektive geographischer Bildung"(Sustainability in Europe - a Central Perspective of Geographic Education, Vol. 2, 203-232). The third educational session appears as Session 5 in Vol. 4 (Europe Between Integration and Regionalism). It is called "Multikulturalismus - Leitbild und Herausforderung für den Geographieunterricht ?" (Multiculturalism - Model Vision and Challenge in School Geography ?, Vol. 4, 181-205). These school-oriented geography-educational sessions at the Geographentag help to continue the impressive German tradition of keeping the (mandatory) geography education in German primary and secondary schools up to date and in contact with the newest geographic research that university departments and other institutions and their staff produce over time and present at their professional conference every two years.
Each of the four volumes could stand on its own, i. e. an interested reader might not need to purchase or order all four to get at the topics of special interest. On the other hand, all four together constitute a unit nonetheless. The editors have adhered to a very strict and logical organization. Each volume contains the same Foreword which presents a brief introduction to all 4 volumes. Each volume presents tables of content of the respective three other volumes in addition to the particular volume at hand. A complete list of contributors, speakers, and editors accompanies each volume. Compared with the proceedings of some previous Geographentag conferences, this one stands tall and could be called a proud achievement of German geography (above mentioned constructive criticism notwithstanding).    
Autor: Lutz Holzner

Quelle: Erdkunde, 54. Jahrgang, 2000, Heft 2, S. 177-180

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