Whether you’re teaching geography at school, studying it at university or applying your geographical knowledge as part of your career, you can do your bit to help to inspire the next generation of geographers by getting involved in the Society’s Geography Ambassadors scheme.
Our Geography Ambassadors – a 500-strong team of undergraduates and professionals – will this year provide presentations to more than 37,000 young people. Visiting schools across England, they introduce younger students to the benefits of choosing geography at GCSE and A-level. The ambassadors act as positive role models and can illustrate, with enthusiasm, the relevance of geography right up to degree level, demonstrating its specialist and transferable skills, which are applicable to a wide range of careers.
Recent developments in the programme will also support the ambassadors in communicating the value of the latest geographical technology. Geographic information systems (GIS) continue to drive business analysis and decision making throughout industry and the public sector – from energy companies to telecommunications, from local government to retail – and a new wave of GIS ambassadors is preparing to join the programme to bring even more of this expertise to the classroom.
The Society is delighted to announce that from January 2011, ESRI (UK) will be the programme’s new corporate partner. Bringing two of the UK’s leading geographical organisations together for the first time, the partnership will marry the UK’s largest pool of GIS expertise with the nationwide ambassador scheme – confirming the continuation of the ambassadors’ invaluable work for another three years.
The Society’s director, Dr Rita Gardner, says the growth of GIS is providing more opportunities for geographers in the workplace. ‘Much of our information technology is location-based – from postcodes to satnavs, GIS has grown rapidly and become an essential tool in business and government,’ she said. ‘The result has been more opportunities for geographers at a time when competition for jobs is higher than ever before.’
The managing director of ESRI (UK), Dr Richard Waite, says that a geographic approach to problem solving ensures better communication and collaboration, and his staff are looking forward to taking their expertise into the classroom. ‘GIS is becoming an indispensable part of daily life, so there’s an increasing requirement for people with strong geographical analysis and computer skills to help organisations unlock their true potential,’ he said. ‘Now that GIS is part of the curriculum, there has never been a better time to bring our expertise into the Geography Ambassadors programme.’
■ If you want to find out more about becoming a Geography Ambassador, or would like to arrange a visit to your school, visit www.rgs.org/ ambassadors or call 020 7591 3050
Mapping out future careers
LEFT: Geography Ambassador James Cheshire shared his passion for geography in presentations to school students
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The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) promotes enjoyment and understanding of our world. Membership is open to all. You may use geography in your profession, have a thirst for geographical knowledge or a passion for travel. Geographical is the Society’s magazine and is available as part of membership. To find out more, call the Membership O ce on 020 7591 3080
Nick Austin, 27, is a senior transport planner for Steer Davies Gleave and a Geography Ambassador. He has a BSc in geography and oceanography and an MSc in GIS. Nick’s work sees him creating online journey planners, working with local authorities to improve transport infrastructure and using GIS and mapping to help communicate messages to clients and the public. As a Geography Ambassador, he tells students about his work and studies in order to help them see the relevance of studying geography to a broad range of careers. ‘We’re entering a new digital age, where information is cheap and readily available,’ he says. ‘The recent release of free government data acquired for official purposes on the data.gov.uk website means that there is an abundance of useful spatial data. Britain needs geographers who are able to process,
articulate and share information – something that’s even more important in the current economic crisis. GIS is playing a significant role in resource management across all areas of society, and with more people using GPS and requesting information on the move, there will only be more GIS-related jobs in the future.’
20 www.geographical.co.uk JANUARY 2011
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