Opportunities for inspiration
Many geographers can trace the moment they were inspired to learn more about the world to the day they began their first field trip. For some young people, however, opportunities to get out and experience the world are limited. The Society’s Learning & Leading programme has been developed to target the students who, with some support, stand to benefit most from the eye-opening experience of fieldwork and research
‘I had never been abroad before, and I wanted to experience the environments that, until now, I had only read about in textbooks,’ says Ricky Stevens, a third-year geography undergraduate at Queen Mary, University of London.
After leaving school at 16, Ricky took a full-time job in retail, but he was keen to get back into education, so embarked on five years of study to achieve the Access to Higher Education qualification he needed to get himself on track for a degree. Last year, with the help of the Society’s Learning & Leading programme, Ricky was able to join his academic mentor, Dr Simon Carr, on a field research trip to Iceland.
‘Ricky had limited opportunities to participate in fieldwork or to experience any sort of wilderness environment first-hand,’ Simon explains. ‘He had worked hard to get himself into university, and now he just needed a little extra help to get himself out to see the world he’s so passionate about.’
Ricky travelled to Iceland for three weeks with Simon during his first summer break at university to service and construct automated weather stations. He was spellbound by Iceland’s famously rugged and varied landscape. ‘Stepping over meltwater channels, witnessing glacial debris, moulins and moraines, and learning where and when not to travel on a glacier – I was able to ask questions and understand so much more about what was happening on and off the glacier,’ he says.
Steve Brace, the Society’s head of education, believes that the role of fieldwork as part of a young person’s education is invaluable. ‘It’s so important that the Society is able to reach out to some of those young people who, for a variety of reasons, could not contemplate travelling overseas either during a gap year or during their time at university,’ he says. ‘The confidence that a young person can develop, whether they are away for a few weeks or several months, can bring a whole new aspect to their academic studies. It brings the subject to life and that’s something that can inspire a lifelong passion for learning.’
This year, the Society is offering five fieldwork apprenticeships to first-year undergraduates. It’s also awarding 12 gap-year scholarships to A-level students who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to take a meaningful gap year before they start a degree in geography.
The recipients will be supported with advice, mentoring and training from the Society. The Learning & Leading programme also offers two free weekend field courses for teachers working in schools that face challenges in their provision of geography, and a residential summer school for A-level students.
‘I returned home from the trip feeling like a brand-new person, more confident and finally believing in myself,’ Ricky says. ‘This feeling of knowing I can achieve things is something that I have taken back from Iceland. I saw a way of life in Iceland – teaching glaciology and helping to develop students both academically and socially – that made me think: “This is what I would like to do”.’ This summer, Ricky returned to Iceland to carry out independent research after receiving an RGS-IBG Geographical Fieldwork Grant. Utilising the skills learned during his fieldwork apprenticeship, Ricky led a team of three undergraduates from Queen Mary, University of
London conducting research on glacier activity ■ For more information, visit www.rgs.org/learning&leading
■ For further details of our work with schools, visit www.rgs.org/schools
Geography student Ricky Stevens embarked on a field trip to Iceland with the help of the Society’s Learning & Leading programme
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The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) promotes enjoyment and understanding of our world. Membership is open to all. You may use geography in your profession, have a thirst for geographical knowledge or a passion for travel. Geographical is the Society’s magazine and is available as part of membership. To find out more, call the Membership O ce on 020 7591 3080
22 www.geographical.co.uk DECEMBER 2010
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1 DECEMBER, 7.30PM CANTHEUKEVERBE SUSTAINABLE? (21st Century Challenges event, London) Our way of life is placing an increasing burden on the planet, but how realistic are visions of a sustainable future? With the UK aspiring to achieve more with less, who will help turn theory into practice? A panel including Sir Stuart Rose, Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP and Andy Hobsbawm discusses this issue.
i Tickets: RGS-IBG members £7, nonmembers £10. For further information, visit www.21stcenturychallenges.org or www.rgs.org/whatson
6 DECEMBER, 6.30PM FLYINGINSPACE (Lecture, London) In May, the space shuttle Atlantis departed on its final planned mission to the International Space Station. Having travelled 7,853,563 kilometres in 11 days and orbited the Earth 186 times, British-born NASA astronaut Piers Sellers talks about his third mission into space on board Atlantis.
i Tickets: RGS-IBG members and one guest
14 DECEMBER, 7PM LOSTLANDOFTHETIGER (Lecture, London) The tiger is critically endangered. Loss of natural habitat and hunting have reduced its numbers to an alltime low. A BBC team, with Fellow George McGavin, went to Bhutan to see if this small Himalayan kingdom holds the key to tiger survival. Venue: The Clothworkers’ Hall, Dunster Court, Mincing Lane, EC3R 7AH. This lecture is a repeat of the 29 November lecture held at the Society’s premises in Kensington.
i Tickets: RGS-IBG members and one guest
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
6 DECEMBER, 2.30PM TEAANDTHEBRITISH (Be Inspired event, London) Be Inspired events are monthly afternoon talks given by speakers who have used the Society’s collections to inspire their writing, travel or personal researches. This month, author Roy Moxham will discuss his investigations into the history of tea.
i Tickets: free to RGS-IBG members and educational users. Non-members £5, payable in advance. For further information, call 020 7591 3044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
11 DECEMBER, 2.30PM ANIMALDIARIES (Children’s lecture, London) Animals can now write their own diaries. Zoologist Rory Wilson explains how his automatic diaries can help us to understand animals’ secret lives and advance conservation.
i Tickets: Members only. RGS-IBG members can book a maximum of five tickets each. Call 020 7591 3100 or email events@ rgs.org five tickets each. Call 020 7591
15 DECEMBER, 7PM CHRISTMASQUIZ (Younger Members’ event, London) Come on your own or bring a team (maximum of five people) to test your general and geographical knowledge at a festive quiz organised by the Younger Members’ Committee. All welcome.
i Tickets: RGS-IBG members £8, non-members £10 (includes a cold buffet). Places are limited, so please book early (maximum five tickets per booking). Call 020 7591 3100, email email@example.com or book online at www.rgs.org/whatson
PATRON Her Majesty The Queen
HONORARY PRESIDENT HRH The Duke of Kent
THE COUNCIL PRESIDENT Michael Palin CBE VICE PRESIDENTS Professor Michael Bradshaw,
Barnaby Lenon, Professor Heather Viles
HONORARY TREASURER Stephen Henwood
HONORARY SECRETARIES Dr Georgina Endfield (Research), Professor David Petley (Expeditions and Fieldwork), Catrin Woodend (Education)
MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL Benedict Allen, Michael Ashby,
Jamie-Buchanan-Dunlop, David Hayman, Dr Vanessa Lawrence, Dr Nick Middleton, Professor Susan Owens,
Professor Tony Parsons, Dr John Shears,
Major General Roy Wood
The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is a leading world centre for geographers and geographical learning. One of our aims is to stimulate the awareness and enjoyment of the subject to a diverse range of people. Geography is about the understanding of the people, places and environments of our world, the processes by which they are changing, and the interconnections between them – both locally and globally. The Society carries out a wide range of activities to support these aims. We support research groups; promote geography within the national curriculum; produce scholarly publications; provide training in scientific field techniques and expeditions; offer information through our large map collection, library and picture library, and engage the wider public through our popular national lecture series.
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DECEMBER 2010 www.geographical.co.uk 23