Enhancing Departments and Graduate Education in Geography
This paper describes the development, implementation, and preliminary outcomes of Enhancing Departments and Graduate Education (EDGE) in Geography, a multi-year project begun in 2005 to study the process of professional development in graduate geography in the U.S and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. As a research and action project responding to the needs of graduate geography programs, EDGE seeks to provide academic geographers with an empirical perspective of disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary and generic skills that M.A./M.S. and Ph.D. students develop as a result of graduate education. Related objectives are to understand how disciplinary skills are applied by geography graduates once they enter the professional workforce in both academic and non-academic professional settings, and to gauge the extent graduate programs are sufficiently preparing geography graduates for those careers.
We begin by summarizing the research goals and design of EDGE, highlighting the roles and contributions of geographers and educational researchers, and noting the interplay and synergy between disciplinary and interdisciplinary methodologies and practices. To date, research has focused on: 1) assessing contemporary workforce competencies in professional geography and 2) examining the role of department climate and culture on student experience and faculty development within masters and doctoral programs. Although the EDGE research efforts are still underway, we present some preliminary research findings and discuss the implications of those outcomes for professional development in geography and related social and environmental sciences. Also discussed is the complementary nature of discipline-based and interdisciplinary professional development efforts.