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Regional reach

Regional reach Hannah Webster
03 May
The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is based at Lowther Lodge in London, but its reach and impact extends far beyond the iconic building’s walls

Each year more than 450 talks, workshops, field visits, exhibitions and training sessions are held at venues across the United Kingdom.

The Society’s nine UK regional committees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland organise a popular programme of lectures, debates, field trips and social events. The current summer programme includes talks on England’s woodlands, the Silk Road, and the impacts of climate change, as well as guided walks through Yorkshire’s Brontë country, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and along the Devon coast. Open to members of the Society and the public alike, these events are run by volunteers and the success of the programme is a reflection of their enthusiasm and commitment.

The work of the regional committees sits alongside the Society’s Regional Theatres Programme, which brings geographical talks to seven venues across England and Wales. Over the coming months speakers include Benedict Allen talking about his quest, with journalist Frank Gardner, for the elusive birds of paradise, and television producer Fredi Devas who will take audiences behind the scenes of Planet Earth II.

Two exhibitions developed by the Society are also touring various venues across the UK. Enduring Eye, the Society’s exhibition of photographs from Shackleton’s Endurance expedition is on show at the Library of Birmingham until mid-May before moving to the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. Britain from the Air, the outdoor exhibition of aerial landscape photographs (pictured above), has recently been on show in Birmingham and Nottingham, and is likely to visit Liverpool later this year.

In addition to the activities aimed at the public, the Society’s regional networks extend across professional audiences. The Chartered Geographer scheme, which accredits people who use geographical skills and understanding in the workplace, holds networking and information events across the UK aimed at both increasing the number of applicants and supporting those who are already accredited.


• Volunteer: contact your local regional committee and see how you can contribute to the region’s event programme. 

• Attend: find out what events and training sessions are being held locally. 

• Get accredited: find out more about becoming a Chartered Geographer. 

The Society’s programme of continuing professional development (CPD) sessions for teachers already includes events across the UK that support teachers with their skills in collecting, analysing and using data, as well as their subject knowledge.

This regional provision of CPD will be expanded over the coming year as the Society works in partnership with leading geography researchers across the country to develop a programme of support for teachers linked to their local university. In addition, planning is taking place for a series of fieldwork training events for schools in the northwest of England in partnership with the Society’s new Corporate Benefactor, ERM.

Schools across the country also benefit from the Society’s Geography Ambassadors scheme. Each year, the Ambassadors – a mix of undergraduates, postgraduates and early-career professionals drawn from local universities and workplaces – talk to more than 30,000 pupils about the value of studying geography and the relevance of the subject to careers.

As part of their work to support the academic research community, the Society’s 30 Research Groups organise a range of events across the UK for their members. Over the coming months these include workshops in Manchester on historical geography, in Exeter on planning and the environment, and in Leeds on geocomputation. The Research Groups also play a vital role in the Society’s Annual International Conference, with the majority of conference sessions organised or supported by the Groups. The conference is held outside London every third year and in 2018 it will be hosted by the University of Cardiff.

So wherever you are based and regardless of whether you are a teacher, a student or an academic researcher, whether you make use of geographical skills in your job, or are simply fascinated by the world’s people, places and environments, there’s a Society activity for you.

This was published in the May 2017 edition of Geographical magazine.

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