April 16, 2019, by lzzeb

Geographical Association Conference 2019

A blog by Lorna Burnell, PhD student 

On Tuesday 9th April I once again headed to the annual Geographical Association (GA) conference to represent the School of Geography with Elaine Watts, which this year was hosted by the University of Manchester.  This annual conference is a chance for geography teachers from across the country to learn more about field study centres, exam boards, professional societies, classroom resources and universities offering geography degrees. The event is a great opportunity to directly engage with geography teachers and sixth formers studying geography, and fosters existing working relationships the school has with bodies such as the RGS, the OS, ESRI and the Field Studies Council to name a few.

After setting up our stand, Elaine and I attended the public lecture given by Kate Raworth, an economist working for the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge and author of Doughnut Economics. She presented a fascinating insight into how economics could be more balanced and meet the needs of our populations without compromising the resources of our planet.  The GA Awards ceremony followed and it was great to see a student from Bilborough Sixth Form College win a prize. The evening then continued with a networking event in the Fossil Gallery of Manchester Museum under the gaze of Stan the T. Rex.

One of the dinosaurs from the Fossils Museum

Wednesday kicked off the first full day of the conference with many delegates streaming through the doors the minute we opened. We spoke to lots teachers interested in how they can inspire their students to understand the breadth of opportunities open to them by studying geography here at Nottingham. The conference was also well attended by A-level students keen to hear about life at university and the different courses we offer. Also amongst the delegates were some of our alumni who are now geography teachers, as well as current PGCE Geography students from the School of Education who Elaine teaches about the use of maps in the classroom. The School of Geography has strong links with the GA, and the Nottingham GA Branch ran three very successful talks this academic year.  Teachers from the local area were delighted with the success of these and interested to hear about future talks.  This model is a great opportunity for their A-level students to experience a university-style lecture and learn about their curriculum content in an exciting way.

We arrived early again on Thursday to yet another sunny day in Manchester.  The keynote address was delivered by Justine Greening the Secretary of State for Education from 2016-2018, although this had to be presented remotely given the current goings-on in parliament! Her talk provoked an engaging dialogue about social mobility and human capital within the UK and how we can all do more to inspire talent at every level and provide opportunities for this to flourish. On the stand it was busy and we again spoke to many teachers and potential students, hopefully inspiring them to aim high, and further afield, in their university aspirations.

Elaine attended the lecture on Making place: Maps and mapping as biography by Professor Peter Vujakovic from the University of Kent, which was fascinating. It explored the nature of maps and mapping as (auto)biography, and how that creates identity and a sense of place.

We hopped on a train back to Nottingham late Thursday evening with the feeling of having inspired many, whilst also having been inspired ourselves. Once again the GA conference has proven to be an excellent event bringing together people from across the country and the discipline, who are critical in spreading the love of Geography and its importance and has left us already looking forward to next year!

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