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Blog: The Geography Factor

Author, professor and television personality Harm de Blij (pronounced duh Blay) for seven years was the popular Geography Editor on ABC's "Good Morning America". In 1996 he joined NBC News as Geography Analyst, appearing mostly on MSNBC. He was writer of and commentator for the original PBS Series "The Power of Place."

Born in the Netherlands, de Blij has a unique range of educational experiences. He received his early schooling in Europe (part of it during the Second World War as recounted in his memoir Wartime Encounter), his college education in Africa, and his higher degrees (Ph.D., Northwestern) in the United States. His scholarly work has been recognized through honorary degrees awarded by Marshall University, Rhode Island College, Grand Valley State University, North Carolina State University, and Michigan State University.

Mr. de Blij has published more than 30 books including scientific, educational, and trade titles, and over 100 articles. In a trade book, The Power of Place (2009, Oxford University Press) he argues that the world is not only not "flat", but becoming more corrugated. In Why Geography Matters (2012, Oxford University Press, paperback edition) he argues that America's persistent geographic illiteracy constitutes a national security risk. His textbook Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts (Wiley) has exceeded 1.3 million copies in 15 editions since 1970. Another book, Wine: a Geographic Appreciation (Rowman & Allanheld) was a bestseller during the 1980s and was awarded a medal by the French wine organization, OIV, in Paris. His books have been translated into several foreign languages.

He specializes in geopolitical and environmental issues, and has held named chairs at Georgetown University, Marshall University, and the Colorado School of Mines. Mr. de Blij currently is John A. Hannah Professor at Michigan State University, where he also taught throughout the decade of the 1960s. In the interim, he chaired the Geography Department at the University of Miami and served as editor at the National Geographic Society. His advocacy of Geography in the media and on the public lecture circuit has taken him to virtually all corners of the United States; his work in research, teaching, and television has spanned the globe. In 1994 National Geographic Society President Gilbert Grosvenor appointed Mr. de Blij an Honorary Life Member of the Society.

He is an avid wine collector, a lifelong soccer (Holland) and baseball (Cubs) fan, and an amateur violinist who continues to play chamber music whenever the opportunity arises. His daughter Tanya is a Web designer and his son James is a Project Manager in television production at Discovery Communications, LLC. Harm de Blij's permanent residence and year-round office are in Venice, Florida.

Why Geography Matters: More than Ever

The Power of Place
The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization's Rough Landscape

Why Geography Matters
Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America

Wartime Encounter
Wartime Encounter