Our research focuses on the UK, dryland regions, and developing areas of the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. The department maintains close links with colleagues in a number of overseas institutions (particularly in Spain, the Caribbean, Egypt and Vietnam). Research facilities include a postgraduate office and new soils and geomatics laboratories with a range of analytical equipment and high level GIS and Image Processing systems.

Recent Submissions

  • Displacement in Casamance, Senegal: Lessons (Hopefully) Learned, 2000–2019

    Evans, Martin; Coventry University
    The paper reflects on fieldwork conducted since 2000 with displaced communities in Lower and Middle Casamance, Senegal, amid arguably West Africa’s longest-running civil conflict. While this is a small conflict in a geographically confined space, Casamance presents a microcosm of dynamics common to other displacement situations in Africa. In this context the paper explores how the understandings, lived experiences and practices of the displaced transcend normative categories used by aid actors to define and manage such situations. Five thematic areas are examined: enumeration of the displaced; complex mobilities, both rural-urban and transnational; historiographic understandings of displacement; political manipulation of displacement situations; and the dynamics of return and reconstruction. The paper concludes by summarising failures of understanding in these areas among much of the aid community, and their consequences. It argues that well-grounded and socially nuanced understandings of displacement may inform more effective aid interventions and enhance the peace process.
  • Great Games and Keeping it Cool: New political, social and cultural geographies of young people’s environmental activism

    Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester
    Drawing on recent framings of young people’s environmental activism as a ‘game’, alongside long-standing characterisations of youth as responsibilised environmental change-agents, in this Viewpoint I identify fertile research opportunities in the liminal spaces between moments of young people’s action and the political and socio-cultural spaces through which those actions (might) diffuse. I argue that youth geographers should take care to engage critically with young activists’ actions, as well as wider political and cultural responses to them, in order to avoid furthering problematic ‘sustainability saviour’ framings of youth.
  • Re-naming and re-framing: Evolving the ‘Higher Education Research Group’ to the ‘Geography and Education Research Group’

    Healey, Ruth L.; West, Harry; University of Chester; University of the West of England
    Editorial for special issue of Area about the evolution of the Higher Education Research Group to the Geography and Education Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society.
  • The history of the Higher Education Research Group of the UK Royal Geographical Society: The changing status and focus of geography education in the academy

    Healey, Ruth L.; France, Derek; Hill, Jennifer; West, Harry; University of Chester; University of Gloucestershire; University of the West of England
    The opening paper in our special section sets the scene for the discussions that follow by evidencing and reflecting upon the history of the Higher Education Research Group. We report on the purpose of the Group when it was established in the late 1970s as the Higher Education Learning Working Party, and trace its development to late 2019 when its members voted to change the name of the Group to the Geography and Education Research Group. Through a systematic analysis of the annual reports published in Area (from 1980 to 1994) and the minutes of the Annual General Meetings (from 1998 to 2019), alongside personal correspondence with former members of the Committee, we explore the history of the Group. We contend that the Group has passed through four distinct phases related to the broader geography and education context. The recent re-naming of the Group to publicly codify and celebrate the diversity of links between geography and education represents a fifth phase in the Group’s evolution. Throughout its history, the Group has had strong connections with geographies (and geographers) of education across a range of sectoral levels, indicating that this fifth evolutionary phase aligns well with the Group’s original purpose and vision.
  • Persistent millennial-scale climate variability in Southern Europe during Marine Isotope Stage 6

    WILSON, GRAHAM PAUL; FROGLEY, MICHAEL; HUGHES, PHILIP; ROUCOUX, KATHERINE; MARGARI, VASILIKI; JONES, TIM; LENG, MELANIE; TZEDAKIS, POLYCHRONIS; University of Chester; University College London
    Exploring the mode and tempo of millennial-scale climate variability under evolving boundary conditions can provide insights into tipping points in different parts of the Earth system, and can facilitate a more detailed understanding of climate teleconnections and phase relationships between different Earth system components. Here we use fossil diatom and stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis of lake sediment deposits (core I-284) from the Ioannina basin, NW Greece, to explore in further detail millennial-scale climate instability in southern Europe during Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6; ca. 185‒130 ka). This interval correlates with the Vlasian Stage in Greece and the Late Saalian Substage in northern Europe, which were both characterised by extensive glaciations. The new dataset resolves at least 18 discrete warmer / wetter intervals, many of which were associated with strong Asian Monsoon events and North Atlantic interstadials. A number of cooler / drier intervals are also identified in the I-284 record, which are typically associated with weaker Asian Monsoon events and North Atlantic stadials, consistent with a variable Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Unlike the subdued changes in tree populations that are observed at Ioannina during mid-to-late MIS 6, the diatom record contains frequent high-amplitude oscillations in species assemblages, pointing to its sensitivity at a time when the lake system must have been close to environmental thresholds. Millennial-scale variability in diatom species assemblages continues into late MIS 6 at Ioannina, contributing important evidence for an emerging picture of frequent and persistent climate instability even at times of high global ice volume.
  • Student authored atlas tours (story maps) as geography assignments

    Treves, Richard; Mansell, Damien; France, Derek; orcid: 0000-0001-6874-6800 (Informa UK Limited, 2020-10-21)
  • The efficacy of appropriate paper-based technology for Kenyan children with cerebral palsy

    Barton, Catherine; Buckley, John; Samia, Pauline; Williams, Fiona; Taylor, Suzan; Rachel, Lindoewood; Powys Teaching Health Board; University of Chester; Aga Khan University, Kenya
    Purpose: Appropriate paper-based technology (APT) is used to provide postural support for children with cerebral palsy (CP) in low-resourced settings. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the impact of APT on the children’s and families’ lives. Materials and methods: A convenience sample of children with CP and their families participated. Inclusion was based on the Gross Motor Function Classification System levels IV and V. APT seating or standing frames were provided for six months. A mixed methods impact of APT devices on the children and families included the Family Impact Assistive Technology Scale for Adaptive Seating (FIATS-AS); the Child Engagement in Daily Life (CEDL) questionnaire; and a qualitative assessment from diary/log and semi-structured interviews. Results: Ten children (median 3 years, range 9 months to 7 years). Baseline to follow-up median (IQR) FIATS-AS were: 22.7 (9.3) and 30.3 (10.2), respectively (p=.002). Similarly mean (SD) CEDL scores for “frequency” changed from 30.5 (13.2) to 42.08 (5.96) (p=.021) and children’s enjoyment scores from 2.23 (0.93) to 2.91 (0.79) (p=.019). CEDL questionnaire for self-care was not discriminatory; seven families scored zero at both baseline and 6 months. Qualitative interviews revealed three key findings; that APT improved functional ability, involvement/interaction in daily-life situations, and a reduced family burden of care. Conclusions: APT devices used in Kenyan children with non-ambulant CP had a meaningful positive effect on both the children’s and their families’ lives.
  • Pedagogies for developing undergraduate ethical thinking within geography

    Healey, Ruth L.; Ribchester, Chris; University of Chester; University of Manchester
    This chapter initially defines the goals of teaching ethics to geography undergraduates, before outlining what a holistic programme approach might look like. This includes identification of seven different contexts, inside and outside the curriculum, when ethical issues might be encountered by geography students; a list which may act as a useful guide for tutors considering teaching ethics for the first time. Whatever specific approaches to teaching ethics are adopted, the next section emphasizes the value of giving students the opportunity to recognize, review, and respond to topics and experiences. Within this context, the value of pursuing non-didactic teaching approaches, the importance of providing a consistent theoretical framework for reviewing ethical problems, and the likely impact of encouraging ongoing personal reflection are discussed. These pedagogic strategies are illustrated further through a case study detailing engagement with ethical issues within small group tutorial discussions using tutor- and student-authored scenarios.
  • Do educators realise the value of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in fieldwork learning?

    Clark, Katherine; Welsh, Katharine; Mauchline, Alice; France, Derek; Whalley, Brian; Park, Julian; University of Chester, University of Reading, University of Sheffield
    This paper explores the benefits, barriers and challenges of BYOD (Bring Your Own [mobile] Device) in fieldwork teaching through the views of Higher Education practitioners who have and have not used BYOD in fieldwork. While the use of BYOD has been explored within classroom settings, there are few studies on the use and impact on BYOD in fieldwork., This study investigated the educational benefits of BYOD and the barriers and challenges associated with BYOD in the field. Students were willing to use their own devices in the field and were engaged through the use of BYOD. Practitioners noted various benefits to using BYOD, including student engagement and familiarity with their own devices, potentially increasing time available in the field. Practitioners also highlighted a number of challenges and potential challenges with BYOD including supporting a range of devices, incompatibility and the potential for inequality. This paper also explores the use of mobile technology in fieldwork through the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model and discusses the potential for BYOD to change practice.
  • Should you be using mobile technologies in teaching? Applying a pedagogical framework

    France, Derek; Lee, Rebecca; Maclachlan, John; McPhee, Siobhán; University of Chester; McMaster University; University of British Columbia
    The extent of how mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are seamlessly incorporated into the personal day-to-day life is not often considered by University instructors. Unfocused incorporation of mobile technologies into the classroom can de-emphasize intended learning objectives if students struggle using the technology itself or by acting as a distraction. The effective inclusion of mobile technology is not a simple process as the inclusion needs to be purposeful and have the potential to improve the student learning environment, while working alongside more traditional face-to-face learning. This paper presents a pathway to help instructors address both pedagogical and technological considerations of incorporating mobile learning into the curriculum. The pathway developed through the adaptation of the iPAC framework, feedback from international practitioners and tested with worked examples. In all cases the instructors’ reflective responses to the eight pathway questions indicate a clear structured activity, engaged students, and considers equal access, prior experience and contingency planning. This pathway indicates an effective methodology for instructors to assess whether the mobile learning intervention is appropriate and adds value to their teaching. Further external evaluation of the pathway with additional teaching examples will enhance the effectiveness of the methodology.
  • GeogEd: A New Research Group Founded on the Reciprocal Relationship between Geography Education and the Geographies of Education

    West, Harry; Hill, Jennifer; Finn, Matt; Healey, Ruth L.; Marvell, Alan; Tebbett, Natalie; University of the West of England; University of Gloucestershire; University of Exeter; University of Chester; University of Gloucestershire; Loughborough University
    In 2019 the Higher Education Research Group (HERG) formally became the Geography and Education Research Group (GeogEd). What may appear as a simple change in name masks a renewed understanding of the synergies between geography education (at all levels) and the geographies of education. In this paper we contextualise that change through the relationships between the two interrelated fields. We suggest that these fields are integrally linked, iteratively and reciprocally, and that research across both is vital for a truly holistic understanding of each. We reflect on the discussions and process of forming the new Geography and Education Research Group, which we trust is sensitive to the historic remit of HERG while being inclusive to those working in geography and education beyond HE. We conclude by looking ahead to a renewed, inclusive and progressive Research Group, aspiring to be more diverse and enabling fruitful discussions across the geography and education nexus.
  • Popular geopolitics ‘beyond the screen’: Bringing Modern Warfare to the city

    Bos, Daniel; University of Chester
    Popular culture – in this case military-themed videogames – has been argued to mould and shape popular understandings of the geopolitics of the ‘war on terror’. To date, most attention has been focused on the geopolitical representations of a ‘final’ popular cultural text or object. Less attention has been paid to how popular understandings of geopolitics and military violence have been constructed and commodified prior to, and ‘beyond the screen’. Empirically, the paper examines the marketing campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Through the use of experiential marketing, I show how the game’s launch night incorporated spectacular displays, performances and consumer interactions to sell the pleasures of virtual war by drawing on geopolitical fears of terrorism and military violence within major Western cities. Firstly, I demonstrate how marketing engaged with and transformed urban spaces extending the popular geopolitics of virtual war. Secondly, the paper reveals how experiential marketing targeted and encouraged connections with and between attendees’ bodies. Thirdly, I demonstrate how such events promote geopolitical encounters which extend beyond the temporal and the spatial confines of the marketing event itself. Ultimately, the paper reveals how urban fears surrounding the global ‘war on terror’ were employed to sell the pleasures and geopolitics of virtual war.
  • Should you be using mobile technologies in teaching? Applying a pedagogical framework

    France, Derek; orcid: 0000-0001-6874-6800; Lee, Rebecca; Maclachlan, John; McPhee, Siobhán R (Informa UK Limited, 2020-06-10)
  • Using historical source data to understand urban flood risk: a socio-hydrological modelling application at Gregorio Creek, Brazil

    Ana Carolina, Sarmento Buarque; Bhattacharya-Mis, Namrata; Fava, Maria Clara; Souza, Felipe Augusto Arguello de; Mendiondo, Eduardo Mario; University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil; University of Chester
    The city of São Carlos, state of São Paulo, Brazil, has a historical coexistence between society and floods. Unplanned urbanization in this area is a representative feature of how Brazilian cities have developed, undermining the impact of natural hazards. The Gregório Creek catchment is an enigma of complex dynamics concerning the relationship between humans and water in Brazilian cities. Our hypothesis is that social memory of floods can improve future resilience. In this paper we analyse flood risk dynamics in a small urban catchment, identify the impacts of social memory on building resilience and propose measures to reduce the risk of floods. We applied a socio-hydrological model using data collected from newspapers from 1940 to 2018. The model was able to elucidate human–water processes in the catchment and the historical source data proved to be a useful tool to fill gaps in the data in small urban basins.
  • Some Observations on Human-Landscape interactions in Almería

    Alexander, Roy; University of Chester
    Extended abstract of Keynote presentation delivered at EcoDesert Symposium, Almería, February 2019.
  • Catchment asymmetry in Tabernas Desert (Almería, Spain)

    Lazaro, R.; Calvo-Cases, A.; Rodriguez-Caballero, E.; Arnau-Rosalén, E.; Alexander, R.; Rubio, C.; Cantón, Y.; Solé-Benet, A.; Puigdefábregas, J.; Estación Experimental de Zonas Aridas (CSIC), Almería, Spain; Inter-University Institute for Local Development, Department of Geography, Universitat de València. Spain; School of Science & Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom; Department of Geography & International Development, Univ. of Chester, UK; Departamento de Agronomia, Universidad de Almería, Spain
    Abstract and e-Poster presented at Geoecology and Desertification, from physical to human factors. International Symposium in memory of Prof Juan Puigdefabregas (EcoDesert) Almería, February 2019.
  • Developing active personal learning environments on smart mobile devices.

    Whalley, Brian; France, Derek; Park, Julian; mauchline, Alice; Welsh, Katharine E.; University of Sheffield, University of Chester, University of Reading (Springer, 2019-10-10)
    ‘Tablets’ and other 'smart' devices (such as iPads and iPhones)have established themselves as a significant part of mobile technologies used in mobile (m-)learning. Smart devices such as iPads and the Apple Watch not only provide many apps that can be used for a variety of educational purposes; they also allow communication between students and tutors and with the world at large via social media. We argue that 'smart' mobile devices enable personalized learning by adjusting to the educational needs of individuals. We refer to Salmon's quadrat diagram to suggest where using mobile technologies should be of benefit to revising our views of pedagogy, making it much more responsive to students' needs in education as well as the world in general. Smart mobile devices now contain computing power to allow voice and face recognition, augmented reality and machine learning to make them intelligent enough to act as tutors for individual students and adjust and respond accordingly. To take advantage of these facilities on mobile devices, pedagogy must change from an institution-centred to a student-tutor-device focus. This is best done via 'active learning' and incorporating cognitive awareness into an educational operating system that can develop with the owner.
  • Innovative Pedagogies

    Hill, jennifer; France, Derek; University of West of England, University of Chester (Elsevier, 2019-12-04)
    We scope eight innovative pedagogies that have the potential to provoke major shifts in teaching, learning, and assessment in geography at the undergraduate level. There are further opportunities for geography educators to embrace newly emerging pedagogies to the positive benefit of students, staff, and the health of the discipline. The next decade of higher education geographical pedagogy might focus less on individual elements of our practice and more on how to integrate latent pedagogies into an effective process for future-facing lifelong learning, which might be achieved by focusing on heutagogy in borderland spaces of learning; bringing together a multiplicity of geography and other disciplinary students over diverse spaces and times to co-construct understanding dialogically, allowing them to determine their own learning needs, and preparing them to be successful citizens in a dynamic and uncertain future.
  • Healthy Ageing in Smart Villages? Observations from the Field

    Philip, Lorna; Williams, Fiona; University of Aberdeen; University of Chester
    In the context of demographically ageing communities across rural Europe Smart Villages have considerable potential to promote ageing healthy. Whilst in principle supporting healthy ageing in the context of the Smart Village might appear a relatively straightforward endeavour, in operational terms, successful development of smart, 21st century villages relies upon, and sometimes assumes, an appropriate interplay of socio-technological factors. Articulated through a lens provided by the digital ecosystem model advocated by the European Network for Rural Development (2018), this paper offers some observations from the field. We acknowledge the challenges faced by remote rural places in their journey to become ‘smart places’ and identify formal and informal interventions that could better position rural communities to become part of a wider, smart society.
  • Field-based pedagogies for developing learners' independence

    Fuller, Ian; France, Derek; Massey University, University of Chester (Edward Elgar, 2019-12-30)
    For fieldwork to be effective in fostering independent thinking it requires careful design and alignment within the degree programme (Fuller et al., 2006; Fuller, 2012). In this chapter we draw from our own research evidence and experience to provide examples that illustrate how fieldwork can be successfully embedded in the geography undergraduate curriculum from first to final year adopting specific pedagogies to develop, enhance, and refine students as independent learners throughout their undergraduate career.

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