September 2, 2019, by Matt

Celebrating Fieldwork

Field trips are up there with pencil crayons as a stereotype of Geography, for many of us who have made the subject our career it is one of the things (along with the colouring in) that engaged us with the subject in the first place and kept us hooked.


This month we’ve dug through our blog archive and will celebrate fieldwork, with contributions from more recent work undertaken this summer too.


This September two of our third year modules will be in the field, in Italy and the USA, and our second year physical geographers will head out to the Yorkshire Dales for field techniques training.


These are great opportunities for our students, but we also want to spend a bit of time this month reflecting on the challenges of keeping fieldwork in our curriculum.


There are costs to fieldwork financial and otherwise and these have to be covered by someone. Financially geography does not always benefit from STEM funding which helps support science and engineering students get into their labs; and with reduced student fees on the horizon, combined with an expectation to provide a better learning experience for our students the challenge of running fieldtrips is only increasing.


Cost should not be a deciding factor for students choosing modules, but in a competitive recruitment market the overseas fieldtrip is a draw, looks good in open day presentations, and is an amazing opportunity for the students that can afford to go. With financial pressures on universities however, some cost of these, on top of the normal student fee needs to be passed on to the student. Otherwise the trips wouldn’t run.


Here in Nottingham there is no additional charge to students for their compulsory fieldtrips, but there are for the optional overseas trips that make up 4 of our 3rd year modules. To try and take away cost as a module choice decision factor for all our students as part of our fieldwork celebration this month we’re launching our Fieldwork Fund and are asking friends and alumni of the School for their support. To further raise awareness of this members of the School are also walking from the School upto Malham in time for the second year field course, you can follow the progress on this blog and through the School’s social media channels!


You’ll see a blog each working day through September, some discussing other challenges around fieldwork such as time and ethics and others highlighting the amazing and varied environments our staff and students find themselves working in. We hope you enjoy our fieldwork celebration – do share you own fieldwork stories with us!

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