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Did you know?

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has a membership of around 15,500 Fellows and members. United by a love of geography, they support and enable the Society to carry out its mission to advance geography and geographical learning

But what else is there to know about the Society’s membership? Here are nine things that shed light on who our members are, their backgrounds and how important they are to the future of the Society and the discipline.

Our membership is loyal...

1 More than 2,000 people have been Fellows of the Society for over 30 years. The longest serving member at the Society has been a Fellow for 87 years, having joined in 1927.

… very loyal…

2 Our oldest Fellow is 109 years old.

... and it’s global

3 The Society has members in 105 countries and territories, from Kazakhstan to Myanmar, to Swaziland. The largest group of Fellows and members located outside of the UK can be found in the USA.

We have a fascinating history

The Society began life as a gentlemen’s dining club and for 40 years had no permanent home. Founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical science, Geographical Society London received a Royal Charter under Queen Victoria in 1859, and changed its name in line with this new status. The Society has changed throughout its history, which includes mergers with the African Association, the Raleigh Club and, most recently, the Institute of British Geographers.

We’re open to all

5 Initially proposed in 1847, the first cohort of 22 women was welcomed to the Society in 1892-93. The then controversial decision to allow ‘Lady Fellows’ was subsequently revoked in 1893. A Special General Meeting in 1913 endorsed the admission of women to the Society. Given this complicated history, there is no ‘official’ first female Fellow. However, Isabella Bird Bishop was one of the first from the original cohort in 1892, known for her impressive work in writing and exploration.

We continue to be relevant

6In 2002, the Society launched its professional accreditation Chartered Geographer (CGeog), recognising those who use their geographical skills in the workplace. 465 Fellows now have CGeog status.

We invest in the world

7 Through the Society’s grants programme, financial support is given to members and non-members alike to support geographical research around the world. Since 1956, our grant recipients have visited 178 countries across seven continents.

We support the geographers of the future…

8 Postgraduate Fellowship aims to support early career researchers. University College London is the university with the greatest number of Postgraduate Fellows, closely followed by King’s College London.

… whatever age they are

9 Our newest membership category is for ‘Young Geographers’ – a special membership for those 14-24 years old studying geography. There are now almost 2,000 members and Fellows under the age of 25, and Young Geographer is our fastest growing member section.

For further information on how you can become a Fellow or member of the Society, visit www.rgs.org/joinus

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