Geography Matters is the name of a new initiative for everyone interested in knowing more about Geography, and how it is taught at the OU.
What is Geography Matters
It is a suite of short videos, posts and audios on topics that relate to The Open University's modules on geography, environmental studies and development – though we hope that students who aren't studying those topics will also find them interesting.
Geography Matters will launch on 21 March. Among other items, there'll be a short post on Europe's borders, a video about a seedbank in north Norway and its links to wartorn Syria, and an audio exploring how the BBC's TV and radio broadcasts have presented the environment from the 1950s to the 1990s. A new item will appear every fortnight.
Geography Matters can be found in the 'Subject and Faculty' zone of the Environmental Studies, Q99 site. This site is available only to Open University students.
We hope you enjoy browsing through the Geography Matters materials, and that they give you more food for thought about the issues and themes explored in OU modules. They also give a flavour of some modules' content, so if you're a student wondering what module to take next, we hope you'll find them useful as well as interesting! Feel free to start a thread discussing anything you read, see or hear discussed in Geography Matters on the forum. This site is available only to Open University students.
If you're an OU student and have any comments on the initiative, give us your feedback via the forum – we'd love to hear from you!
If you're an Associate Lecturer you are welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you think of the initiative.
The latest Geography Matters material is now available. Steve Pile asks how we should respond to humanitarian crises in other countries and explores the geographies that underlie the 2016 "Convoy to Calais" protest. If you are an OU student, you can check it out on the Environmental Studies, Q99 site.
Brains behind the initiative
In the PodMag (monthly update of news, views and interviews from the Faculty of Social Sciences) for March, you can listen to an audio recording of the interviews with people behind this project. In this audio, Karen interviews Gillian Rose, lead academic on the project, Nick Bingham, Environmental Studies Qualification Director and Head of Department Michael Pryke.
Select here for a copy of the transcript of this audio.
Karen talks to Gillian about Geography Matters, what the project is, and what it offers to students. Gillian describes the range of multimedia material including audio, video, essays and interactive discussions, to enrich current module material. Materials will link what is happening in the world right now with module material.
For example Oliver Zanetti’s video ‘Syria, Spitzbergen and seeds’, looks at the effect of the war in Syria on the environment, the way that a lot of seeds are being decimated by the war, linking plant research being done in Syria before the conflict with an international seed bank in northern Norway.
Geography Matters aims to encourage a sense of community, with forums and the opportunity to provide feedback, as well as helping students choose which modules they might want to study in the future.
Karen also discusses Gillian’s post as Andrew Mellon Project Distinguished Scholar at the University of Pretoria, where Gillian will be researching the different ways that South African cities have been organized and structured.
Nick talks about how Q99 Environmental Studies offers a distinctive Social Sciences led interdisciplinary take on environmental issues. He discusses the value employers place in Environmental Studies, and how students’ ‘environmental imagination’ can be used to work in relation to topical matters of concern.
Nick is bidding for funding for a Bee keeping practice project, which will explore responses to the bee crisis.
Michael talks to us about what is happening in the Geography Department, and how it differs from departments in conventional universities because of its focus on human geography. Geography Matters is a collective undertaking in the department as they feel it is important to offer students the opportunity to be part of a community. Another aim is to provide resources to help students see the relevance of the ideas they come across in the modules, and it highlights to students some of the interesting research areas some of our academics are involved in.
Michael explains how his project on the Financialisation of Thames Water is being used by the Mexican Government to make a podcast for teaching purposes.
Current students can access the Geography Matters assets via the Environmental Studies qualification website.
This blog post is part of Society Matters. The blog seeks to inform, stimulate and challenge our understanding of this changing world and of our humbling role within it. Find out more about the blog and the team.
Want to know more about studying social sciences with The Open University? Visit the Social Sciences faculty site.
Please note: The opinions expressed in Society Matters posts are those of the individual authors, and do not represent the views of The Open University.