Lawrence Brown

brownThis Isard Award to Lawrence A. Brown recognizes the contributions of the second cohort of geographers to the intellectual take-off and symbiotic growth of Regional Science and Quantitative Geography. Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Ohio State University, Brown received his BS in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and his PhD in Geography from Northwestern University in 1966.

The great Swedish geographer, Torsten Hägerstrand, supervised his dissertation fieldwork on diffusion processes, and Brown’s conceptual framework and bibliography, published by the Regional Science Research Institute in 1968, became a valuable resource for the emerging fields. Then Brown’s 1981 book, Diffusion, became the definitive work on the adoption and geographic spread of new products and techniques. Earlier research had emphasized the adopter, but Brown focused attention on the actions of those supplying the innovations.

Brown’s research on mobility was another major contribution to understanding behavior in space. His pioneering theory of intra-urban migration with Eric Moore in 1970 remains one of the most cited papers on residential relocation. More recently, his research has focused on development, migration, and urbanization in Third World settings. To paraphrase Norman Mailer (with whom there are certain obvious parallels), “Larry Brown has been a publishing regional scientist for over 40 years. That’s not true for very many of us.”

Brown has worked generously and tirelessly to promote others through mentoring and career-long support. Winner of university-wide teaching awards, Brown’s research record is strongly linked to advising students. He has had thirty-three PhD advisees, many of whom are intellectual leaders themselves. He himself was a Guggenheim Fellow, President of the American Association of Geographers, and President of the North American Regional Science Council.

NARSC salutes Larry Brown for 40 years of sustained contributions and dedication to regional science, beginning with his pioneering research in the 1960s and continuing today through his own research and the many students to whom he has shown exceptional dedication. Larry Brown’s career demonstrates the importance and value of networking and collaborating, and the benefits of communicating with scholars from other disciplines. Perhaps drawing personal inspiration from his own dissertation, Larry Brown made himself one of regional science’s most effective agents of innovation diffusion.

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