More than 7,500 people have come to study at the School of Geography and the Environment since its foundation in 1899. Whether they read Geography as an undergraduate or graduate degree, did one of the acclaimed new MSc courses or came here as DPhil students, together they form an impressive network which we would like to explore and engage.

Dr Christine Baro

Dr Christine Baro joins the School as our Alumni Relations Officer

In May, we welcomed Dr Christine Baro as the School's first ever Alumni Relations Officer to help us build and foster our alumni network, and we are delighted that - in addition to plenty of online and social media interaction - we have already had three opportunities to meet our alumni in person.

After the well-established ECI Alumni Dinner, we invited former students across all degrees to the first Herbertson Lunch (our own departmental side-event at the Oxford Alumni Weekend) and celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.

ECI Alumni Dinner

This year's ECI Alumni Dinner was held at Trinity College and reunited 113 ECM alumni, current students and ECI staff.

Herbertson Lunch

We were delighted by the response to our Herbertson Lunch, and had to book a more spacious venue in order to fit all our guests in.

10th Anniversary of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management © Claudia Silva

On 4 October, 100 alumni and current students came together to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management with a whole day of networking, discussions and of course a dinner and party in the evening.

Herbertson Lunch

For one weekend in late September, the whole "gown" side of Oxford gets busy with talks, tours, receptions and dinners. It's the Oxford Alumni Weekend - an event that attracts around 1,000 alumni every year to come back to their colleges and departments. We didn't want to miss the opportunity and invited our alumni to join us on 21 September for an inaugural "Herbertson Lunch".

There is the infamous Herbertson Society and the Herbertson Memorial Prize, Herbertson's grave in Holywell Cemetery and the prospect to acknowledge the centenary of his death in 2015. We found we had lots of good reasons to name our first proper alumni event after this formative figure in the School's history, and were very touched when Bradley Wilson (1967) brought an original Herbertson Society term card, listing him as its then president!

Alumni across all year groups filled the Wolfson Room (our "overflow" venue at the Chemistry Research Laboratory). Many came from an inspiring talk at Keble by SoGE Professor Richard Washington (Against all Odds: Recovering the first climate data from the central Sahara), while others were keen to learn more about the School of Geography and what has happened since they left ("What hides behind the name's extension "and the Environment"?).

"What an enjoyable (and delicious) lunch on Saturday: it was great to meet up with many other SoG alumni, of all ages, and to hear about the activities (and many and impressive successes) of the School today. Prof Whatmore made us feel very welcome."
(Liz Montgomery, 1971)

Displays, including a timeline telling the department's history from the beginnings to the present day, and a slideshow showcasing recent media coverage, gave an overview of the School's way to its current excellence in teaching and research. But most of all it was Professor Sarah Whatmore's warm welcome and their own sharing of memories and life and career paths with other alumni that made the day.

We said good-bye with a postcard to take away, showing Herbertson and a quote by him which we hope was true for our first alumni event as well: "I have given you rather a lot to think about".

Mary Stafford (1971) and Patricia Pearl (1971) are locating themselves on the history timeline

Mary Stafford (1971) and Patricia Pearl (1971) are locating themselves on the history timeline.

A warm welcome from the 'home team': Development Officer Ian Curtis, Catherine Sage, Bruce Breckenridge (both 1989) and Prof. Sarah Whatmore.

A warm welcome from the "home team": Development Officer Ian Curtis, Catherine Sage, Bruce Breckenridge (both 1989) and Prof. Sarah Whatmore, Head of School.

One of the display boards gave a preview of our alumni relations programme

One of the display boards gave a preview of our alumni relations programme.

MSc in BCM 10th Anniversary Celebration

What a vibe! What a day! On 4th October 100 alumni and incoming students came together at Lady Margaret Hall to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.

The day kicked off with reflections from BCM's six past and present Course and Academic Directors on the origins, development and future directions of the course. But then it was all over to the participants. New connections and friendships were made during a field trip (to the garden) involving a fun set of mapping and clustering exercises - until a heavy shower chased everyone back indoors for the serious business of agreeing on the set of topics to discuss at the afternoons world café. The mix of sharp insight and banter that characterised the selection and then whittling down of topics was classic BCM brain-storming. Sarah Jones (2010-11) comment on how great it was to "have a refresher on themes discussed in BCM", David Williams (2009-10) reported that the world café discussions made him 'all misty eyed' for his BCM year. We certainly settled on a cracking set of topics, namely "Where can we damage?", "Rewilding, Conservation & Development", "Food Systems", "Conservation & Corruption", "Conservation Communication" and, with a nod to the refreshed course content, "Engaging Corporations". The report back session was yet another illustration of the topicality, importance and complexity of issues in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.

Reconvening for dinner, we welcomed additional alumni who couldn't make it during the day. After dining, wining and chatting we settled down for the important task of selecting the official BCM species mascot. Ten champions stood up and gave wonderfully articulate, humorous, compelling and passionate justifications for why their chosen species merited the honour of BCM course mascot. The Artic Term, proposed by Eden Cottee-Jones (2010-11), came top in the first vote, but after it was mentioned that the tern was the logo of Birdlife the assembled company called for a new vote and the Dragontree - icon of many happy BCM field trips to Tenerife and proposed by Prof. Whittaker - was voted in (no hint of vote rigging of course!). The general merriment continued on with a party organised by a group of Oxford-based alumni.

As well as a day of celebration, networking and debate, this was a day where we all took stock of the achievement of BCM and the 250 students who have graduated from the course. The BCM Atlas of Action nicely captures the global reach, impact and commitment of all associated with the course.

10th Anniversary of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management © Giorgi Lebanidze

A trip to the nearest field: This clustering and mapping exercise helped to loosen the year group bonds and build more BCM bridges for the day to come.
(Photo by Giorgi Lebanidze)

World Café setup: The first vote of the day: Which issues do we want to discuss? © Giorgi Lebanidze

World Café setup: The first vote of the day: Which issues do we want to discuss?
(Photo by Giorgi Lebanidze)

10th Anniversary of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management © Claudia Silva

The BCM class of 2009-10 celebrating a happy reunion.
(Photo by Claudia Silva)