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Introduction (Topics in This Issue)

Canadian Journal of Regional Science 2002, Summer, 25, 2

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The six papers in this special issue on Regional Science and the Environment offer a broad perspective on regional science research and the environment. The topics covered include empirical studies on international trade and the environment, urban form and urban amalgamation, the development of a conceptual framework for the assessment of climate change co-benefits and a theoretical framework for a regional science of the environment. Three of the papers have an urban focus, two refer to the role of civil society in environmental decision-making, and one calls for the wider application of a relatively new environmental assessment methodology. In the lead paper, Scott Prudham contributes to the ongoing debate over the relevancy of regional science and future directions for the field (see, for example, Kramsch and Boekema 2002; Rees 1999; Isserman 1995; Dear 1995). So far, this debate has paid little attention to the environment. Prudham seeks to fill this gap by developing a theoretical foundation for a political economy of environment within regional science. He suggests that a political economy approach could enrich regional science in a number of ways. First, its emphasis on social differentiation in economic production and consumption can provide new insights into the origins and implications of environmental change. Second, political economy theory on the role of the state can help in understanding the nature of environmental politics and the state's role in regulation. Third, political economy's interest in the historical context for social change can be applied to human-environment relations and the institutional context in which environmental crises emerge.