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Geographers warn of risk to society: 100 top academics have called for the media to publicly recognise the vital role of #Geography (some historical geography?)

September 14, 2012

I just came across this from 2006.

“Give Geography its Place is warning of increased social, economic and environmental risks to society if the media continues to neglect Geography. In a letter to the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell over 100 top academics have called for the media to publicly recognise the vital role of Geography and Geographers.

More than a hundred leading Geographers from nearly fifty different universities have warned of an increased risk of social, economic, political and environmental threats if the media continues to fail Geography.

In a letter to the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell, MP 101 Deans, Professors, Doctors, Lecturers and Lead Teachers have warned that a strong Geography education is vital if issues such as climate change, sustainable energy, terrorism, poverty, immigration and natural disasters are to be fully understood and managed.

Organised by the ‘Give Geography its Place’ (GGiP) campaign the letter to Tessa Jowell accuses the media of failing Geography despite being dependent upon the subject and its professionals for much of their news content.

“Despite being dependent on geographical skills and content, the BBC and Channel 4 have no commissioning editors for geography as they do for science, history and other subject areas. Very rarely are geographers chosen to present programmes which are distinctively geographical (Equator, State of the Planet, Journeys into the Ring of Fire, etc). Some media organisations, particularly newspapers such as the Guardian do an even greater disservice to geography by directly attacking or ridiculing the subject, even when there is the opportunity to support and promote it (e.g. the launch of the Governments’ Geography Action Plan).”

The letter to Tessa Jowell is being used to promote a new petition which is being launched by Give Geography its Place. With an emphasis on the importance of Geography for all our futures the petition is aimed at the public and especially parents. It is parents who may be most concerned about the world in which their children will live in the future and parents who should be most concerned about the quality of their children’s education.

Both the letter and the public petition directly call for the media to “employ geography editors and to produce both implicitly and explicitly labelled geography content for broadcast, in print and online.” The petition can be signed at

The letter concludes:

“Geography is in a unique position to act as a bridge between subject areas using spatial knowledge, understanding and technologies coupled with distinctive concepts to make sense of the world. It is now time for the media to take full advantage of this capacity and stop neglecting this vital subject and we would like to invite you to do everything in your power to encourage this change.”

Daniel Raven-Ellison and David Rayner, both teachers and the founders of the GGiP campaign added “If students and the wider public are to make sense of some of the biggest issues which make the headlines, it is vital that there is a greater understanding and use of geography. Modern Geography is not about being able to repeat the gazetteer of an atlas, it’s about understanding the patterns, processes and systems that connect us all to each other and to our environments. If we take international migration as an example, history and politics play their part but the complex mixture of why, how, where and when people travel are best explained through Geography.”

David Lambert, Chief Executive of the Geographical Association commented “Successful study of geography brings a rounded understanding to events and processes, and to the way the world works. The subject has the power and potential to educate, through developing with people a way of thinking that keeps the world whole and connected: the physical and the human, the social and the economic, the near and the distant, the familiar and the strange. Geography helps us contemplate our place in the world.”

“ [Geography] offers an entry into the causes and effects of conflict and poverty to town planning and water shortages. Could there be a more modern and relevant subject? Anyway beards and open toe sandals are cool now!!” Wayne Hemingway, designer and Geography graduate concludes.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 15, 2012 09:30

    It’s v important, and I don’t wish to mock – but looks like you have scope to join the IUCN red list for endangered species. Farriers, printers, book sellers etc no doubt could be on it too? BTW we just bought the Mission Explore food book and having lovely time with it. Nicola

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