Peter Nijkamp is professor in regional and urban economics and in economic geography at the VU University, Amsterdam. His main research interests cover plan evaluation, multicriteria analysis, regional and urban planning, transport systems analysis, mathematical modelling, technological innovation, and resource management. In the past years he has focused his research in particular on quantitative methods for policy analysis, as well as on behavioural analysis of economic agents. He has been visiting professor in many universities all over the world and he is past president of the European Regional Science Association and of the Regional Science Association International. In 2004 he received the Founder’s Medal. Peter comments:
‘Since its genesis in the 1950s, regional science has addressed over the successive decades social science issues related to regional and urban development. The methodologies deployed in regional science analyses have shown a wide variety of approaches ranging from policy evaluation to spatial econometrics, from spatial impact assessment to computable regional equilibrium model- ling, and so forth. The orientation in regional science was explicitly interdisciplinary in nature.
Interdisciplinary research has become rather fashionable in recent years, as it is generally believed that new scientiﬁc discoveries are most likely to be found as the interface or edge of different disciplines. From this perspective, regional science has a pioneering role to play in the future of the social sciences. It should also be added that regional science seeks its thematic orientation in the study of regions as concrete spatial entities which might be investigated from different perspectives. Thus, regional science offers a prism through which regions can be analyzed; it is not an omniscience in itself.
The Regional Science Association International (a few years ago) decided to create a system of ‘Fellows’ to honour scholars who have signiﬁcantly contributed to papers in regional science research. In my view, an RSAI fellow is not in the ﬁrst place an honoured scientist, but a scholar whose task it is to render services to the broader regional science community, in particular the younger generation.
From my early encounters with regional science - in the early 1970s – I have been fascinated by the wealth of approaches and news that are generated to better understand the ‘secrets’ of regions. Regional scientists form a scientiﬁc community of scholars who are fascinated by the undiscovered nature of modern regions and who are part of a discovery tour that will never come to an end. Regional science research is a discovery race without a ﬁnish’.
(Published on RSAI Newsletter 2009 March)