A few weeks ago now, Professor Danny Dorling published an article in the journal Emotion, Space and Society urging academics in the discipline of Geography to be kinder to each other and to our students. He argued that Geographers in particular needed to be kinder to each other because when Geography emerged as an academic discipline in the late nineteenth century in the UK, it was designed to train the administrative and military leaders of empire for whom kindness was not a prerequisite; and as it evolved through the twentieth century, Geography remained the favoured subject of the rich and the privileged.
Recent press reports have picked up on the latter point with headlines about Geography being the subject studied by "posh people" at university, without paying sufficient attention to its explanation (and to the fact that more and more BAME students are studying GCSE Geography at school).
The School of Geography and the Environment is very aware of both its deep involvement with the histories of colonialism and the relative lack of diversity among its undergraduate students. However, as Danny's article points out, and as our current students have also said, we are changing. We are doing our very best to attract as diverse a student body as possible, and to learn through our teaching and research better ways to care for each other and the world.
- Dorling, D. (2019) Kindness: A new kind of rigour for British Geographers. Emotion, Space and Society, 33: 100630.
- Response to 'Geography degrees' comment piece in The Times, RGS, 28 Nov 2019.
- Statement on the response to Professor Danny Dorling's article on British Geography, @oxgeogsoc (Oxford Geography Society), 28 Nov 2019.
- Geography degrees are preparing disadvantaged students for relevant careers, Alison Blunt and Martin Evans, Times Higher Education, 14 Dec 2019.
- Professor Danny Dorling