RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018 call for sessions



Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales

Tuesday 28th August to Friday 31st August 2018




  1. Matt Finn and Itta Bauer; Tear down the walls! Cross-disciplinary engagements with geographies of education and learning, Geographiedidaktik and young people’s geographies
  2. Jenny Hill, Harry West, Niamh Moore-Cherry; Partnerships in Teaching, Learning and Assessment in a Changing HE Landscape
  3. Dave Simm and Alan Marvell; Communities of/for Learning: Enhancing student engagement in changing HE environments
  4. Alina Congreve and Damien Mansell; Climate change education: innovation and engagement
  5. Catherine Waite, Simon Cook, Nick Wise, Jacky Tivers, and Paul Gilchrist; Teaching the Geographies of Sport
  6. Phil Jones, Jen Lea and Nina Morris; Research-informed approaches to teaching embodiment
  7. Michael Horswell Changing learners, teachers and technology: Pedagogic agility in the delivery of GIS in higher education.


  1. Tear down the walls! Cross-disciplinary engagements with geographies of education and learning, Geographiedidaktik and young people’s geographies



The starting point of this session is Doreen Massey’s argument that stimulating intellectual developments particularly come from “places where boundaries between disciplines have been constructively breached and new conversations have taken place” (Massey 1999: 5).

We seek to cross boundaries between geography, social and cultural studies, didactics and pedagogy by promoting an “engaged pluralism” (Barnes and Sheppard 2010) of new ideas of research and teaching in the geographies of education and learning. These boundaries may have been built (and increased) on the premise of different languages and publication cultures or various forms of academic socialization and network commitments. Our hope is that by focusing on “connecting things”, we may actually renew the debate on “geography without borders” instigated by Castree, Fuller and Lambert (2007) but the promise of which remains unrealized.

To work towards this unfulfilled promise, we would like to explicitly invite contributions from geography, learning and didactics (Geographiedidaktik, didactique de la géographie, etc.). Issues like e.g. sustainability and learning (BNE) (Bagoly-Simo 2013; Widener, Gliedt and Tziganuk 2016), citizenship education (Jekel, Gryl and Oberrauch 2015; Mills 2012), critical and cultural geographies of schools and learning (Mills and Kraftl 2016; Noethen and Schlottmann 2015; Schreiber, Stein and Pütz 2016; Schröder 2016), or new socio-technical innovations in geography education (incl. MOOCS, GIS, GPS, and social media) certainly are interesting intersections that offer common ground for cross-disciplinary fertilization. The session opens up a space where the many existing (at times parallel) discourses may benefit from an open-minded exchange of ideas, theories, practices, and policies of research. It is our intention to productively take the discourses elsewhere (Gregson and Rose 2000): from a national to an international audience, from the narrow borderlines of disciplines to a exchange among (and beyond) geographers with various interests and backgrounds and live up to the claim of a geography that is not only transgressing, but actually may indeed be undoing borders.


Broadly speaking the sessions will consider:

  • What can be learnt through bringing geographies of education, young people’s geographies and geography education into dialogue?
  • How might the concerns and debates in international literature and language traditions, challenge and enliven Anglophone/international work and vice versa?


We would like to invite contributions that engage with these themes through issues such as, but not restricted to:

  • Spatial citizenship, geo-spatial learning and geocapabilities
  • Space, place and learning about geographies of difference, including education concerning gender, race, sexualities, dis/ability
  • Governmentality and sites of learning
  • Positionality of students, teachers and researchers exploring the possibilities and challenges of working at the borderlines of geography and didactics
  • Geo-politics of education, learning and geographical knowledge
  • Assemblage approaches to young people’s geographies and to their education and learning
  • Critical geographies of education, learning and young people including but not limited to responses to austerity, racism, and consumer culture.


We would particularly like to support participation from people of contexts affected by inequalities that make attendance challenging. We can explore means of achieving this, which could include pre-recorded video presentations or skype presentations.


Session Convenors:

Dr. Itta Bauer, University of Zurich, Switzerland and Dr. Matt Finn, University of Exeter, contact: itta.bauer@geo.uzh.ch, M.D.Finn@exeter.ac.uk


  1. Partnerships in Teaching, Learning and Assessment in a Changing HE Landscape



The development of effective partnerships has become a goal for educators, policymakers, and student representative bodies around the world. Educational partnership can be understood as a relationship in which all involved are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of working together to foster engaged student learning and skills development, enhancing teaching, learning, assessment and student outcomes. Partnerships vary in terms of who participates and they can include: HEI collaborative arrangements; universities undertaking industrial or civic engagement; cross-disciplinary working; academic and professional services staff co-developing and co-delivering curricula; and faculty and students engaging in disciplinary research, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and pedagogic consultancy. All these interactions are contextualized within curricular, extra-curricular and co-curricular learning spaces, which demand transitions in and transfer of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.


This session aims to interrogate how a diversity of educational partnerships can influence the learning, teaching and assessment experience, educational outcomes and society as a whole, contextualised within a dynamic higher education climate. You are invited to share your research and scholarship concerning the purpose, impact, benefits and challenges of engaging in educational partnership. Issues that may be examined include, but are not restricted to:


  • The economic, social and political contexts supporting a diversity of educational partnerships;
  • The motivations and principles for engaging in educational partnerships;
  • The areas of learning, teaching and assessment that are open to partnership;
  • Skills requirements for students and faculty to take part in evolving partnerships and the support needed for their development;
  • The benefits accrued by stakeholders from engaging in educational partnerships;
  • Strategic and sustainable practices for building authentic, inclusive and transformational educational partnerships;
  • Tensions and challenges inherent in educational partnership;
  • Co-production of thematic and pedagogic research, and reframing public dissemination;
  • Organisational cultures and structures needed to enable partnerships to thrive;
  • Key considerations to take into account in helping educational partnerships to translate to wider societal benefit.


Please email paper proposals (title, author affiliation and a 200-250 word abstract) or queries to Jennifer Hill by email (Jennifer.Hill@uwe.ac.uk). The deadline for abstracts is Friday 9 February 2018.  The format of the session will be the presentation of 4-5 selected papers each lasting 20 minutes.


  1. Communities of/for Learning: Enhancing student engagement in changing HE environments



The shifting environment of HE has undoubtedly led to changes in the relationships between students and their learning.  The neoliberal agenda, full-fee student fees in the UK, performance league tables, and changes in the (part-time) work-study balance are some of the influences on students’ perceptions of study and expectations of educational experience.  Anecdotally, as tutors, we remark that students have become more demanding, more strategic in attendance and assessment, and more insular with the possibly of becoming isolated in their approach to their studies. If this is the case, to what extent is this attributable to external and institutional factors?  Or are tutors’ teaching and learning methods now outdated by changes in society, and require a rethink?  And, importantly, what are the experiences of students?  However, there are many examples of good practice in Geography departments, and this session will examine how students can better engage with their studies.   One approach is to create Communities of/for/with Learning.


The idea of Communities of Learning involves encouraging better student engagement through creating a sense of community and identity, with the result that students are more willing to share and co-operate with their studies, contribute more readily to university life, and which could include co-partnership in course design or staff research.  The characteristics of a community include identity and belonging, mutual benefit and support, even comradeship based on common or shared experiences.   Communities of Learning may take many forms from traditional to new and innovative, formal to informal, from structured to transient, (a)synchronous interaction, and from academic to pastoral.  They range from online communities (such as VLE platforms and social networking apps) to tutor or mentor support (peer mentoring, supplementary instruction) to informal self-selecting working groups (study groups or, more formally, group work).  Allied to the idea of Learning Communities are Spaces of Learning – this may range from infrastructure of building spaces (Subject posters and information boards or designated study facilities).

Efforts to create Communities of Learning involve the creation of learning and support environments, and adopting appropriate learning and teaching strategies, in order to stimulate Communities for Learning, whereby students take possession and responsibility of their own (and others’) learning.  Which teaching and learning strategies encourage a sense of community, and what opportunities and challenges exist?  As tutors, can we create learning environments that foster Communities for Learning, and find ways to better support Communities of Learning that evolve, with student partnership, into Communities with Learning?


In considering these aspects, some questions emerge that the conference papers might address:-

  • What types and forms of Learning Community exist, and how and why are they changing?
  • What does being part of a Learning Community mean? What are the opportunities, benefits and issues for participation?
  • What are the needs and experiences of students, and how does the Student Voice influence the development of Learning Communities?
  • How can we create effective Learning Communities?
  • What can be learned and applied from the Community of Practice approach adopted in research? What can we learn from others in different subjects and/or institutions?
  • How do we ensure that our Communities of Learning are effective for learning?
  • How can Communities evolve with participation and partnership?

Please email proposals (title, 200-250 Abstract) or queries to David Simm (d.simm@bathspa.ac.uk) or Alan Marvell (amarvell@glos.ac.uk). The deadline for Abstracts is Friday 9th February 2018. The format of the session will be the presentation of 4-5 selected papers each lasting 15-20 minutes.


  1. Climate change education: innovation and engagement


The proposed session will bring together innovation and excellence in climate change education in higher and further education. Climate science has been a mainstream feature of geography and environmental science courses since the early 1990s. The session will provide an opportunity for sharing of innovative teaching and learning approaches between human and physical geographers. Increasingly it is possible for students to directly experience the impacts of climate change in northern latitudes and coastal communities. Developments in software and computing power have made a range of modeling approaches possible in teaching contexts. In the social sciences climate change has provided a frame through which to consider issues including: expert knowledge; the role of the media; behavior change; civil society and activism; and equality and justice. Papers are invited, but are not restricted to the following teaching and learning activities.


  • National/international fieldtrips
  • Laboratory, practical sessions, modelling
  • Live projects with external stakeholders
  • Innovative types of assessment
  • New approaches to lectures, seminars or tutorials
  • Blended learning and online modules
  • Study abroad
  • Work placements
  • Innovation programmes to support students with business ideas
  • Other opportunities outside taught modules – e.g. Green Week/ Eco-reps


Papers abstracts of 250 words should be emailed to Dr Alina Congreve Alina.Congreve@climate-kic.org or Damien Mansell D.T.Mansell@exeter.ac.uk


  1. Teaching the Geographies of Sport


It is nearly thirty years since John Bale first published his agenda-setting book ‘Sports Geography’. Over this period there have been numerous geographers who have engaged with sport for the purposes of research and teaching. Engagement with the geographies of sport has arguably increased in recent years and has become more prominent in university classrooms, given the significance of sport from the standpoint of popular culture to promoting wellbeing. But how do sport and geography come together in teaching? Are the geographies of sport being taught as standalone modules or are sports-focused case studies being used to exemplify geographical theories, concepts and processes.

This session aims to bring together all those who are, in some way, teaching about geographies of sport, or are interested in doing so. We invite papers that speak to this topic to stimulate broader discussions on and beyond the themes below. To enable this discussion we are seeking short papers (ten minutes in length) to capture a range of perspectives, approaches and activities, followed by an inclusive discussion among session participants.


Possible themes might include, but are not limited to:

  • Geography and the teaching of sport
  • Curriculum design – what do we mean / what would we include in a ‘Geography of Sport’?
  • Interdisciplinarity and the teaching of the geographies of sport
  • Teaching theories and concepts of the geographies of sport
  • Case studies used in teaching the geographies of sport
  • Using sport to teach geographical theories and concepts
  • Supervising dissertations on the geographies of sport
  • Research-informed teaching and the geographies of sport
  • Personal experiences and the practicalities of teaching the geographies of sport
  • Blended learning strategies for the teaching of the geographies of sport
  • Student experiences of the teaching of the geographies of sport
  • Issues (and solutions) encountered in the teaching of the geographies of sport


The convenors for this session are:
Catherine Waite – University of Northampton
Simon Cook – Royal Holloway, University of London / Birmingham City University
Nick Wise – Liverpool John Moores University
Jacky Tivers – Oxford Brookes University
Paul Gilchrist – University of Brighton

  1. Research-informed approaches to teaching embodiment – call for panellists


The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) places at its heart the idea of research-informed teaching (RIT) arguing that ‘The learning environment is enriched by student exposure to and involvement in provision at the forefront of scholarship, research and/or professional practice.’ (DfE, 2017, p25).  While TEF can be criticised for advancing the marketization of universities, the emphasis on RIT provides a useful opportunity to reflect on our practice as researchers in the classroom.


RIT covers a range of practices from communicating research findings, through teaching and assessment methods and processes, up to students undertaking research themselves (HEA & UA, 2016).  Geographic research into bodies and embodiment is well positioned to engage with RIT approaches because of the emphasis on praxis within feminist and allied scholarship (Staeheli & Lawson 1995).  The phenomenological understanding of bodies and worlds being co-constructed produces a range of opportunities for learning-by-doing, creativity and experimentation (Manning, 2014) as do recent reflections on the potential for deploying ‘visceral’ methodologies (Sexton et al. 2017).   Likewise, there are opportunities for action learning through research activities where students ‘trouble’ (Butler, 1990) their habitual embodied performances of space and multisensory experience of everyday landscapes. Such approaches also lend themselves to enhancing student skillsets by encouraging communication beyond conventional academic essays.


We are seeking panellists interested in discussing the place of bodies and embodiment research within higher education teaching.  The format would be for panellists to provide a five minute pitch about their own teaching practice, followed by an audience Q&A.  Themes for panellists could include:

  • More-than-content-delivery approaches to teaching the body and embodiment
  • Ways of connecting academic theory with everyday life
  • Co-researching with students and encouraging students to become independent researchers
  • Resisting/working with student instrumentality – “How will this get me a job?”
  • Students presenting research findings beyond conventional modes of academic writing
  • Research ethics, integrity and student embodiment
  • Teaching and assessing the multisensory


If you are interested in taking part, please get in touch with one of the panel organisers: Phil Jones (p.i.jones@bham.ac.uk), Jen Lea (j.lea@exeter.ac.uk) and Nina Morris (n.morris@ed.ac.uk)




Butler J (1990) Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity.  Routledge, London.

DfE (2017) Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework Specification.  Department for Education, London.

HEA & UA (2016) What does research informed teaching look like?  Higher Education Academy, London.

Manning, E. (2014) Against method, in Vannini, P. (ed.) Non-representational methodologies. New York: Routledge, pp.52-71

Sexton AE, Hayes-Conroy A, Sweet EL, Miele M and Ash J. 2017 Better than text? Critical reflections on the practices of visceral methodologies in human geography, Geoforum 82;Supplement C 200-1.

Staeheli L & Lawson,V (1995), Feminism, praxis, and human geography. Geographical Analysis, 27: 321–338.


  1. Changing learners, teachers and technology: Pedagogic agility in the delivery of GIS in higher education.


The scope of GIS delivery in higher education ranges from modest gestures along the “skills spine” of geography programmes, to optional specialisms, to full degree programmes. Each is informed by different assumptions of disciplinary value, knowledge requirements of graduates, and existence of a specific GIS discipline. The hybridity of GI systems/science/technology approaches results in a diversity of GIS pedagogy and practice.


GIS is often touted as a key element of geography graduate employability, or as facilitating the development of desirable graduate attributes. This requires additional and specific consideration of a rapidly changing post-education market within which graduates will inevitably compete, and possibly trigger debates about the changing nature and purpose of higher education itself.


GIS deliverers in HE include subject specialist users of GIS, discipline-agnostic GIS generalists, specialist technologists, and sometimes reluctant conscripts. Similarly, learners have changing, and different experiences, expectations and predispositions towards GIS, informed by their technological confidence, prior exposure and perhaps career aspirations, formed, in part, by evolving national secondary school curricula. Non-academic staff, whether student-facing or not, are also co-opted, as technical support, or technical service providers. Departmental and faculty leaders also play a role in funding, enabling and supporting GIS delivery at an institutional level.

These shifting landscapes, combined with very rapidly evolving GIS technology, can at times form the turbulent pedagogic contexts and environments in which we work. They present particular challenges related to the planning, preparing and delivery of GIS content, and we have to be agile with regard to the pedagogies which inform our relationships with our students, our institutions, our discipline, and external stakeholders.


This session invites contributions from all stakeholders in GIS learning and teaching, students, tutors demonstrators, researchers, administrator and / or employers – to explore and reflect not only on  how they have experienced and responded to the rapidly changing complexities of the discipline in the past, but also to consider how we ought to respond going into the future. It is anticipated that a collaborative case-study based article will be produced by participants in the session.





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