Regional Science program celebration

April 29, 2009

On April 19, CRP Professor Emeritus Walter Isard, credited as the father of regional science, celebrated his 90th birthday. On April 24, the graduate field of regional science at Cornell marked this happy occasion, and celebrated more than 35 years of continuous activity, with a well-attended half-day program of events in the new seminar room of the Fine Arts Library.

Dean Kent Kleinman opened the festivities by commenting on the critical role that regional scientists have played in helping the design professions to understand social and economic forces shaping the use of space. One of the graduate field’s founding faculty members, Professor Emeritus Stanislaw Czamanski, joined the proceedings with salutations telephoned in from Haifa, Israel. Professors Ralph Christy (AEM), Porus Olpadwala (CRP), and Iwan Azis (CRP and director of graduate studies in regional science), then took turns reflecting on the relationship between regional science and development economics.

Professor Isard suggested how room can be found in the social sciences for more generous and realistic models of human behavior than prevailing accounts of optimizing behavior. In the second part of the morning’s events, Professor Emeritus Sidney Saltzman (CRP) discussed how the graduate field of regional science came to be organized by professors Czamanski, Barclay Jones (deceased), Isard, and himself.

Professor and Chair Kieran Donaghy (CRP) discussed the progression of research topics that students have investigated in over 50 scholarly dissertations. Current students in the field then offered their views on present needs and future directions in graduate education.

Before exiting to a celebratory feast of Thai food in West Sibley, Professors Azis and Donaghy announced a new student Dissertation Completion Fellowship, to be named after the graduate field’s founding faculty members.