Global Change is no longer scientific jargon: the world is changing at an ever increasing pace and people all over the world are becoming more and more aware of the fact that they live in a rapidly changing, global environment where decisions taken by policy makers or companies at the other end of the world may have immediate impacts on their personal life. More and more, the human inhabitants of planet Earth realize that the capacity of the planet to sustain human societies is limited and that our planet should be managed with care.
Geography can contribute tremendously to the scientific debates about these rapid changes and the increasing awareness of the limits of the earth: as an integrative scientific discipline, it aims at understanding the combined effects of biophysical and/or socio-economic forces on human-environment interactions. Therefore, geographers also increasingly reflect on the social relevance of their discipline and the ways to demonstrate it to society.
On the other hand, Global Change is affecting the way Geography can develop as a discipline. Global integra-tion makes new approaches possible, not only because global datasets are becoming increasingly available but also because geographical technology such as GPS and GIS has now become mainstream. This has not only implications for geographical research but also for geography education. Geographers reflect on how they may increase their societal impact and how professional geography applications interact with society in a changing world, both at the local and the global scale.
The Geography Days will provide Belgian geographers an excellent opportunity to discuss these issues. Through a plenary session and a series of workshops the Belgian geographical community will confront the questions that arise with respect to geographical education, research and its place in society. Such a discussion is only meaningful if other stakeholders are involved. We will therefore make a special effort to involve partners from outside the academic community in this debate.