Gordon Assumes Presidency of Western Regional Science Association

Gordon Assumes Presidency of Western Regional Science Association

By Cristy Lyta

Peter Gordon, professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy, formally began his one-year term as president of the Western Regional Science Association (WRSA) last month, during the association’s 51st annual meeting in Kauai, Hawaii.

Founded in 1961, WRSA is an international multidisciplinary group of university scholars and government and private-sector practitioners dedicated to the scientific analysis of regions.

At the annual banquet luncheon, Gordon delivered his presidential address, titled “Thinking About Economic Growth.”

“I spoke about economic growth and the role of cities, as they are the places where new ideas incubate,” Gordon said. “Many people write about ‘creative cities’ and ‘creative people.’ If we want to talk about ‘creative cities,’ we have to think about whether they are congenial to entrepreneurial, including creative, activities.”

Other Price School faculty at the four-day conference (Feb. 8-11) included WRSA board of directors member Genevieve Giuliano, as well as Marlon Boarnet, Eric Heikkila, Jenny Schuetz and Adam Rose. At least 20 Price School Ph.D. candidates and alumni who have gone on to hold faculty positions at other universities also attended.

“There’s been a long tradition of USC faculty and students being involved in WRSA,” Giuliano noted. “Because it’s a regional science gathering, it’s very complimentary to the research that many of us do here, which is on the quantitative and social science aspects of planning and development.”

Most of the USC participants chaired sessions, served as discussants or presented research papers on topics ranging from ports to art galleries.

“It is really the only conference in our field where you have to submit full papers in advance, every paper has a discussant, and every paper gets 45 minutes,” Giuliano explained. “It’s one of the few places where people get really thoughtful feedback on their work, and they get the time that their work really deserves and merits.”

Heikkila, who calls WRSA “40 percent economics, 40 percent geography and 20 percent urban planning,” appreciates the organization’s interdisciplinary nature.

“What I value about this particular organization,” he said, “is you have people who are geographers, you have people who are economists, you have people who are trained in regional science, you have urban planners, and you have people with different disciplinary perspectives all talking about the same thing but from different points of view, and most importantly, listening to each other.”

Richardson, who has been involved with the organization since 1975, added that the conference is “global in scope. People there are from all over the world.” This year, approximately 225 participants attended.