Natural resource planning
The Prize Jury’s Citation:
From his pioneering work during the 1930’s on natural resource planning, with special attention to flood plain management, to his superlative leadership in directing wideranging programs in natural hazards at the University of Chicago in the 1960’s, right through to his important work at the University of Colorado on radioactive-waste management in the 1990’s, his careers has been studded with accomplishments of extraordinary significance.
Most known for:
Gilbert White was a prominent American geographer, sometimes termed the “father of floodplain management” and the “leading environmental geographer of the 20th century”. White is known predominantly for his work on natural hazards, particularly flooding, and the importance of sound water management in contemporary society.
“The contributions which geographic thought can make to the advancement of society are relatively few, simple, and powerful. They are so few and simple that a significant proportion of them can be taught to high school and beginning undergraduate students. They are so powerful that failure to recognize them jeopardizes the ability of citizens to deal intelligently with a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world.” 1962. “Critical Issues Concerning Geography in the Public Service-Introduction.” Annals, Association of American Geographers 52 (3):279-280.
White was the Gustavson Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Colorado from 1980 until his death in 2006. Prior to that, from 1970 to 1978, he was Professor of Geography and the Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the university. He was also the founder and Director of the university’s Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center (now called simply the “Natural Hazards Center”) from 1976 to 1984 and again from 1992 to 1994.
In 2001 Gilbert donated his research library and personal papers to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The collection, considered one of the largest in the world on water resources planning, is now housed in the Arthur Maass – Gilbert F. White Reference Room at the Corps’ Institute for Water Resources in Alexandria, Virginia.