Allen J. Scott, professor of geography and public policy at UCLA, receives honorary degree


Allen J. Scott has advanced our understanding of how globalization is reshaping the world, deepened our knowledge of the burgeoning creative economy, and investigated where certain industries are located – and why.

Today, for his excellence in the academy through his innovative and widely influential contributions to the fields of urban studies, regional science and economic geography, Scott received a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, from the University of Toronto, where he taught for several years in the 1970s.

Born in Liverpool in 1938 and raised in the north of England, Scott received his BA and MA in arts from the University of Oxford. He received his doctorate from Northwestern University in Illinois in 1965, then moved to Canada to teach at the U of T.

In his speech to the class of 2021, he joked that his stint in Toronto, from 1973, came at a time “when teachers dressed for the class, where information came mostly from the printed word. and where parking was $ 5 per semester. . “

U of T turned out to be a (relatively) brief stop. Scott spent most of his career at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he helped establish one of the most renowned geography departments in the United States. He has also made important and distinguished scientific contributions himself, with innovative thinking on the links between industry, technology and location, and the growing importance of city-regions in the global economy.

While Scott contributed immensely to the theoretical side of economic geography, he also helped connect theory to politics. He has conducted several studies in Southern California – on the origins and development of the high-tech industry, for example. His book, On Hollywood, investigating why film production moved from New York to Los Angeles at the start of the 20e century – and why it has remained despite globalization. (On Hollywood won the Meridian Book Award for outstanding academic work in geography each year.)

Most recently, Scott has written about the immense growth of the creative economy. In an editorial for a special issue of Economic geography review which he co-wrote with two colleagues, he defines the creative economy as including artistic activities such as cinema, music and fashion – but also, increasingly, utilitarian products such as cars, cell phones and kitchen utensils, which are more than ever designed with a distinctive aesthetic. Because the creative economy tends to cluster in large city-regions (such as New York, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Mexico City), its growth has major implications for policymakers and governments.

Scott has received numerous awards throughout his career for his contributions to the field of geography. He is a member of the Royal Statistical Society and the British Academy. He received the Guggenheim and Fulbright scholarships. And, in 2003, he won the Vautrin Lud Prize, known as the “Nobel Prize for Geography”.

In his speech today, Scott explained how graduate students will significantly contribute “to the intellectual, cultural and political development” of society.

“You have acquired in-depth in-depth knowledge; you have learned to think critically and weigh the weight of the evidence in competing claims; and you have acquired habits of mind that will and should underpin a life of continuous personal development, ”said Scott. “In a world where darkness, prejudice and philistinism still prevail on all sides, the value of these gifts is incalculable.

“For each of you, obtaining your diploma is the start of a life project that will bring you personally increasing possibilities for personal development. But it will also bring us all closer to achieving a more humane and more humane society.

“Never stop cultivating your intellectual achievements and never limit your critical facilities. “

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