Geography scheme goes ‘Global’

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Ross Mathers

Students at Glasgow University, in conjunction with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), have launched an initiative to encourage more people to study Geography at university.

The move comes as figures show the number of students being recruited to study Geography at Glasgow has been declining for the past three years. In 2006, 107 level one students were recruited through the Science Faculty and by 2008 this number had dropped to just 47 students.

While recruitments to the Earth Science course have been increasing gradually for several years, the 2008 recruitment figures for Geography are the lowest since 2000.

The project, named ‘Global’, will be aimed at engaging school pupils and will attempt to introduce them to new and exciting concepts in order to bridge the gap between Geography at school and at university.

In addition, membership of the RSGS will be widened to allow for a younger group. The BBC’s ‘Coast’ presenter Nick Crane and the writer, broadcaster and Glasgow PhD student Vanessa Collingridge have already shown their support for the scheme.

Dr. Gordon Curry of the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, speaking to Guardian, has argued that although there is a problem with Geography recruitment there is still success to speak of.

He said: “Although Geography recruitment into Science Faculty declined last year, Earth Science recruitment increased. In a recent survey it was revealed that a higher proportion of our Earth Science graduates were in full-time employment or further study than for any other UK Earth Science department.”

Explaining the falling numbers of Geography students, Mike Robinson, Chairman of the RSGS, told Guardian that it was in part down to applicants choosing newer subjects over Geography.

He explained: “Geography is not attracting as many students as it once did, but this is partly a consequence of the array of subjects now available and partly a low image and self esteem, so there is no question that it needs to do more to promote itself.”

He therefore supports any attempts to increase in interest in Geography.

He said: “The RSGS, through initiatives like Global, aims to help make these connections between people, place and the planet for the decision makers and geographers of tomorrow.”

The initiative has already been piloted with Glasgow students Alyson Meeke and Emma Culley delivering a talk for school pupils. And it is now hoped that the scheme will be implemented throughout all Scottish universities.

Speaking to Guardian, Emma explained the ultimate aims of the initiative.

She said: “Hopefully RSGS Global will help to dissolve the idea that Geography is just learning about rivers and capital cities, and show the great range of things which can be studied within the discipline.”

Mike Robinson of the RSGS claims issues such as climate change make studying Geography more crucial now than ever before.

He said: “Geography is a brilliant subject for today’s students as it draws together science, arts, humanities and the environment.

“It is a way of teaching citizenship, responsibility, giving a sense of place in the world and encouraging joined up thinking, so it has never been more critical.”