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Geographical Association awards by Chris Brierley

Posted by Ajay Chauhan at May 05, 2017 04:44 PM |

by Chris Brierley

Learned societies are an important part of academia. Whilst two of the most well-known may be The Royal Society and the British Academy, there are many others, often with bases in London. The Royal Geographical Society is next to the Albert Hall and always has a good, free exhibition on. Learned societies act as a mouthpiece for the academic community and certify "chartered" professionals. I am part of the Royal Meteorological Society, which has responsibility for climate science.

Last year, I was chatting to colleagues at the annual general meeting (after an interesting panel discussion on the Paris Climate Agreement). I discovered that a revision of the school geography curriculum meant that teachers now needed to explain the climate of the past few million years. This was one of several new topics that wasn't really covered in existing textbooks; and it was worrying the education officers of the relevant learned societies. The Royal Meteorological Society has taken on the task of creating some resources on past climate changes, to complement their offering on weather in schools (via We collected a series on up-to-date facts and figures from paleoclimate science (such as CO2 reconstructions). My contributions were case studies on (a) the mid-Pleistocene Transition (b) the "Green Sahara" and (c) ongoing debates about the Anthropocene. These resources are available at

The website went live at the beginning of the academic year, and I must confess that I'd completely forgotten about them. I was therefore very rather surprised to discover that it had been highly commended by the Geographical Association. The Geographical Association is a society dedicated to the teaching geography – rather than research like the Royal Geographical Society. It gives commends educational resources for a variety of uses and school levels. Our past climate materials were considered to be a very useful resource “pitched at a high level to stretch GCSE and A-Level students”. I got to collect the award at the Geographical Association’s Annual Conference immediately after the public lecture, which was fittingly given by the weather presenter Peter Gibb. Two former members of UCL Geography also received awards: Dr Charlotte Lemanski (former staff), and Adrian Manning (PhD) – who won the “Annual Award for Excellence” to loud applause.




You might want to consider joining a learned society. Student membership is often very reasonable,  and you get to go to many free events.