by Fiona Ferbrache
My involvement with Geography Directions began after I attended the RGS IBG postgraduate mid-term conference in Aberythswyth, 2010 (RGS Postgraduate forum). The theme was Engaging Geographies and plenary speaker Professor Klaus Dodds talked enthusiastically about the ways in which geography, and we as geographers, should engage beyond the academe with media, government and the general public. He suggested that to some extent the future of geography lies in its outreach beyond the university (see also Castree, forthcoming). It is thus encouraging to read that “geographical issues are gaining wider attention from the public, as many critical issues facing society today are embedded in this academic area” (Harris, 2011:155). In The Geographical Journal’s Commentary, Harris notes that Geography is a comprehensive discipline capable of addressing both the science behind an issue, and the social and economic impacts arising from it. Harris’ paper highlights geography-media relations and argues that the media plays an important role in connecting geography with wider populations.
I became involved with Geography Directions because I saw the web posts as an opportunity for academic geography to access a wider audience (see also Wiley Geodiscoveries). Anyone viewing our website has the opportunity to engage some of the resources, new developments and latest issues taking place in the academe as our news editors repackage journal articles and present them in association with real-world examples. In contrast to web-based news sites, podcasts and blogs, Harris’ paper focuses on traditional forms of media and is written from her experiences of working with Radio 4. However, our goal is the same: to increase the public profile of geography as a discipline that can contribute to many debates facing society today.
Castree, N. (in press) The Future of Geography in English Universities. The Geographical Journal. Forthcoming.
Harris, F. (2011) Getting geography into the media: understanding the dynamics of academic–media collaboration. The Geographical Journal. 177,2. pp.155-159