Maria Paradiso#

Laudatio by Paul Claval#

Professor Maria Paradiso has made most valuable contributions to the discipline of geography especially through the innovative field of geography of the information society and her championing of geography’s increasingly central role as bridge among bio-physical, social and human sciences: she developed a GIS data model and work flow for urban planning; developed the first contribution in Italy to geomarketing providing a model for territorial sources of data, exposed the role of vernacular knowledge in hazards perception and current ICT use in countering risk amplification and disasters; suggested geography of information as a bridge between social sciences and engineering; analyzed Google as a mega-project within a mega-project (Internet) and highlighting its geopolitical and cultural implications. She has further been intensively engaged in activities of the Intemational Geographical Union (IGU), notably in its Commission on the Geography of the Global Information Society, and the special project the Mediterranean Renaissance Programme (MRP) initiated by IGU late President, Adalberto Vallega, former member of this Academia.

Paradiso‘s scholarly merits and activities are many, ranging from both theoretical and applied issues at local, regional and continental scales. While well attuned to conceptual challenges, she applied new fresh analysis to consolidated domains and also prospected new research developments and geographical changes: she developed and tested methodological approaches in terms of both geopolitics and planning, focusing on relations between power and its territoriality in the global-local dialectics; addressed the new European strategic planning assessment and carried out one of the first works on the issue of public territorial policies. She has also mastered impressive skills in domains of information technology which she has exploited in the individuation and explanation of urban and regional development challenges in Italy and throughout Europe : she pioneered the analysis of the geography of Italian information society illustrating success and failure points; assessed planning cases of information society-led development in Europe and other continents highlighting differences in planning approaches and practices between ‘fordism’ planning and current information societies, her analysis being the first comprehensive example in the field, approaching the topic of planning beyond geographical analysis and theory. Her publications and contributions to conferences and congresses have made her well known as not only an economic geographer and expert on information society, but also as a key voice internationally within political and cultural geography.

Paradiso’s activities and abilities show that she is continuously active and that she can widely contribute to the European Academy in the following ways:

Strengthen cooperation and intercultural dialogue among regional universities: on the evidence of her intense and successful contributions to conferences and inter-university programs at the EU scale such as Erasmus and Socrates, scientific relations with scholarly worlds from both Western and Eastern cultures.

Promote interdisciplinarity between geography, planning and engineering: given her experience with faculties and research centres of engineering, and her impressive skills in mastering the information technology field, with implications for urban and regional development strategies.

Contribute to science (geography and planning) in society: given her ability to initiate and manage scientific pilot and applied research in partnership with public bodies and varied economic sectors.

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