Ivan Scales – Current Occupation: McGrath Lecturer in Human Geography, St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge
Ivan has been a speaker at Explore since 1988. He will chair the Human Sciences field research workshop on Sunday morning at Explore again this year.
What is the biggest impact that Explore had (or continues to have) on you?
Explore gave me the inspiration and confidence to plan my very first research project on amphibians in French Guiana’s tropical rainforest. The help I received on everything from research methods to logistics and fundraising set me on the path I continue to follow today.
If you were/are planning an expedition or field research project today, what emerging topics, or objective would you focus your attention on?
I’m currently working on a project on the socio-ecological dynamics of mangroves. It touches on some of the most pressing global issues: climate change, rural livelihoods, poverty alleviation, migration, and ecological change. The big question is how these big issues intersect.
What three pieces of advice would you share with a person who is thinking about organising or joining an expedition or field research project for the first time?
• Start early. Logistics, permissions, research permits and visas can take many months to arrange.
• Local involvement in your project shouldn’t just be a box ticking exercise. Not only is it morally/ethically the right thing to do, it often enriches your research.
• Always have a plan B, C, and even D for your research. I have yet to undertake a field project that hasn’t had to change because of logistical challenges or simply the fact that the situation on the ground can be very different to the one you imagine or read about in the literature.