Harm de Blij
(October 9, 1935 - March 25, 2014)

The National Council for Geographic Education is saddened to announce the death of renowned geography educator and NCGE member Harm de Blij.


Harm de Blij was a tireless advocate for geography and spent his career as a professor, author, speaker, television personality and public champion of the discipline.  Dr. de Bjij was most recently the John A. Hannah Professor of Geography at Michigan State University.  During the course of his long academic career he also held positions at Marshall University, University of South Florida, Georgetown University, University of Miami, George Washington University, University of Hawaii, University of Colorado and Northwestern University.

He was Geography Editor on ABC's Good Morning America for seven years, and later joined NBC News as a Geography Analyst. He was a prolific author who wrote and published more than 30 books and over 100 articles. His best-selling textbook, Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts first appeared in 1970, and in 15 subsequent editions, has been read by over 1 million college students. Two of his most recent books, Why Geography Matters (2012) and The Power of Place (2009) summarize his life's work. He spent decades championing the wonder of geography and the relevance of geographic perspectives to world affairs. 

He became an NCGE member in the 1950s, and remained an active contributor to the organization throughout his career. He published his first article in the Journal of Geography in 1958 (The Geography of South West Africa) and contributed many more over the years. He served as Editor of the Journal of Geography from 1970-1974. He provided the keynote address at the 2012 National Conference on Geography Education in San Marcos, Texas, and presented a paper on "Why physical geography matters" at NCGE 2013 meeting in Denver.  In 2006 he was awarded the NCGE's highest honor, The George J Miller Award.  Read the 2006 George J Miller Award citation here.

Former Student Erin Fouberg said of Dr. de Blij, "I was Harm's student in both human and physical geography at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Harm was a gifted storyteller who drew students into his lectures and taught us to make connections across time and space so we could appreciate the context of global and local change".
Noted Geographer Alec Murphy said of de Blij, "Harm's passion for geography was almost without equal. Thinking geographically was something that came naturally to Harm, and he used that capacity to comment, often with great insights, on developments around the globe.  Geography has lost one of its great champions-someone who inspired countless students, teachers, and members of the general public to embrace the wonder and fascination of the subject we hold dear."


Currently NCGE is working with Dr. de Blij's friends and colleagues to plan a memorial event at the upcoming 2014 National Conference on Geography Education in Memphis.