De Blij, Harm J. 1935–

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De Blij, Harm J. 1935–

(H.J. de Blij, Harm Jan de Blij)

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced duh-Blay; born October 9, 1935, in Schiedam, Netherlands; son of Hendrik and Nelly de Blij; married Katherine Powers (divorced, 1971); married Bonnie Doughty, 1977; children: Tanya, James. Education: University of the Witwatersrand, B.Sc., 1955; Northwestern University, M.A., 1957, Ph.D., 1959. Hobbies and other interests: Wine collecting, watching soccer and baseball, and playing the violin.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—Boca Grande, FL; Chatham, MA. Office—Department of Geography, Michigan State University, 118 Geography Bldg., East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Geographer, educator, and writer. University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, lecturer in geology and geography, 1959–60; Michigan State University, East Lansing, assistant professor, 1961–63, associate professor, 1964–67, professor of geography, 1967–69, associate director of African Studies Center, 1964–69, John A. Hannah Professor; University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla., chairman of geography department, 1969–76, associate dean of College of Arts and Sciences, 1976–78, professor of geography, beginning 1978; also served as John Deaver Drinko Professor of Geography, Marshall University, Huntington, WV, and George Landegger Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Northwestern University, visiting lecturer, spring, 1959, visiting assistant professor, 1960–61, visiting associate professor, 1963–64; visiting professor of geography, Institute for Shipboard Education, University of Colorado, autumn, 1978, and University of Hawaii, autumn, 1979; Presidential Professor, Colorado School of Mines, 1981–82.

Visiting geographical scientist, Association of American Geographers, 1967–70. Representative for Miami University to board of directors, Organization for Tropical Studies. Founder of Miami Geographical Society. Consultant to Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc., 1963–65, Bobbs-Merrill Reprint Series in Geography, 1966–72, and Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corp., 1980–; member of editorial advisory board, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (publishers), 1968–72 and 1975–78, and Hamilton Publishing Co., 1972–75; member of editorial advisory board for cartography, Hammond, Inc. (publishers), 1974–; consultant on African maps and text, Atlas project, National Geographic Society, 1979–80. Member of wine tasting panel, Miami Herald, 1980–84.

MEMBER: Association of American Geographers (councillor, 1970–72; member of steering committee, Southeastern Division, 1970–73; secretary, 1972–75), National Council for Geographic Education (member of executive board, 1970–74), National Geographic Society, Royal African Society, American Geographical Society, African Studies Association, American Association of University Professor, Florida Society of Geographers, Society of Wine Educators, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Gamma Theta Upsilon.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from Ford Foundation, 1962 and 1966; grant from Midwest Consortium for International Assistance, 1967; grant from Association of American Geographers, 1975; Presidential Scholar, University of Miami; Prix d'Honneur, 1984, Organisation Internationale Vinicole, Paris. Honorary degrees include Doctorate of Science, Marshall University, 1991; Doctorate of the Humanities, Rhode Island College, 1995; Doctorate of Science, Michigan State University, 1999; Doctorate of Humane Letters, Grand Valley State University, 2001; Doctorate of Humane Letters, North Carolina State University, 2001.


Africa South, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1962.

Subsaharan Africa, Michigan State University Continuing Education Service (Ann Arbor, MI), 1963.

Dar Es Salaam: A Study in Urban Geography, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1963.

A Geography of Subsaharan Africa, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1964.

Political Geography, University of the Air, Michigan State University (Ann Arbor, MI), 1965.

Systematic Political Geography, Wiley (New York, NY), 1967, 4th edition, with Martin Ira Glassner, 1989.

A Guide to Subsaharan Africa, Michigan State University Continuing Education Service (Ann Arbor, MI), 1968.

Mombasa: An African City, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1968.

Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts (also see below), Wiley (New York, NY), 1971, 12th edition, with Peter O. Muller, 2006.

Essentials of Geography, Wiley (New York, NY), 1973.

Man Shapes the Earth: A Topical Geography, Hamilton Publishing (Santa Barbara, CA), 1974.

(With Alan C.G. Best) African Survey, Wiley (New York, NY), 1977.

(With David Greenland) The Earth in Profile: A Physical Geography, Canfield Press San Francisco, CA), 1977.

Human Geography: Culture, Society, and Space, Wiley (New York, NY), 1977, 7th edition, with Alexander B. Murphy, 2003.

The Earth: A Topical Geography, Wiley (New York, NY), 1980.

Geography of Viticulture, Miami Geographical Society (Miami, FL), 1981.

(Editor, with Esmond Bradley Martin, and contributor) African Perspectives: An Exchange of Essays on the Economic Geography of Nine African States, Methuen (New York, NY), 1981.

Wine: A Geographic Appreciation, Rowman & Allanheld (Totowa, NJ), 1983.

Wine Regions of the Southern Hemisphere, Rowman & Allanheld (Totowa, NJ), 1985.

The Earth: A Physical and Human Geography, Wiley (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor) Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives: Proceedings of the Centennial Symposium, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 1988.

(With Peter O. Muller) Physical Geography of the Global Environment, Wiley (New York, NY), 1993, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor) Nature on the Rampage, Smithsonian Books (Washington, DC), 1994.

Harm De Blij's Geography Book: A Leading Geographer's Fresh Look at Our Changing World, Wiley (New York, NY), 1995.

The Earth: An Introduction to Its Physical and Human Geography, 4th edition, Wiley (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Peter O. Muller) Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts (computer disk), Wiley (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Peter O. Mueller) Concepts and Regions in Geography, media integration by Eugene J. Palka, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003, 3rd edition, published as The World Today: Concepts and Regions in Geography, 2006.

(Editor) Atlas of North America, cartography by Philip's, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Survey of Sub-Saharan Africa: A Regional Geography, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Atlas of the United States, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of television series, Subsaharan Africa, Michigan State University Continuing Education Service, 1963; Political Geography, University of the Air, Michigan State University, 1964; and The Power of Place (also commentator), Public Broadcasting Service. Columnist for Focus, American Geographical Society, 1985–. Contributor to Economic Framework of South Africa, 1962; Proceedings of the Second University of Manitoba Conference on Commonwealth Affairs, 1962; Islam in Africa, 1969; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1974; Contemporary Africa, 1976; CBS News Almanac, 1977; The Association of American Geographers: The First Seventy-five Years, 1979. Also contributor of articles and reviews to professional journals, including Economic Geography, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Professional Geographer, South African Journal of Science, and Journal of Geography; contributor of articles to Miami News and Museum. Member of editorial board, Comparative Urban Research, 1972–74; member of editorial committee, Southeastern Geographer, 1980–84; member of editorial board, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 1985–; editor, Journal of Geography, 1970–74; editor, National Geographic Research, 1984–.

SIDELIGHTS: Geography professor Harm J. de Blij spent ten years in Africa and has continued research there at intervals since leaving. Fluent in Afrikaans, Dutch, and German, de Blij is a generalist by temperament and is also interested in the arts. He is also the author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books about geography. In his book, Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism, the author sets out to bring the general public and government officials up-to-date on the importance of geography and the inherent dangers of ignoring the field. To emphasize geography's importance, he focuses on national security issues and, in the process, provides an in-depth explanation of geography and how it relates to geopolitical issues. In addition to the topics listed in the title, the author looks at geopolitical situations in numerous areas, including Europe and Africa. Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer called Why Geography Matters "an often illuminating perspective, nicely visualized in the book's many splendid maps." Gilbert Taylor, writing in Booklist, noted that the author's "tour of Islamic radicalism has the most immediate relevance." A Science News contributor commented that the book "has the heft and tone of a scholarly tome."

The author also served as editor of Atlas of the United States. The volume includes more than seventy maps along with text and graphs focusing on a wide range of topics, from the environment to economics. In addition to maps of the entire United States and certain cities, the book includes updated (2006) statistical and geographical information. Writing in the Library Journal, Edward K. Werner called the book "a very useful geographical resource appropriate for general and informed lay readers."



Milbauer, John Albert, Student's Companion to Accompany The Earth, an Introduction to Its Physical and Human Geography, 4E, H.J. de Blij, Wiley (New York, NY), 1996.


Booklist, August, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism, p. 1986.

Bookwatch, January, 2006, review of Why Geography Matters.

Career World, September, 2003, Marilyn Sherman, "Geography: A Sense of Place," discusses geography as career and includes quote from author, p. 4.

Library Journal, May 15, 2006, Edward K. Werner, review of Atlas of the United States, p. 128.

Publishers Weekly, June 6, 2005, review of Why Geography Matters, p. 52.

Science News, October 1, 2005, review of Why Geography Matters, p. 223.

Weatherwise, January-February, 2006, review of Why Geography Matters, p. 61.


Harm Jan de Blij Home Page, (October 5, 2006).

Medical Library Association Web site, (October 5, 2006), brief profile of author.

Michigan State University Department of Geography Web site, (October 5, 2006), faculty profile of author.

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De Blij, Harm J. 1935–

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De Blij, Harm J. 1935–