Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Students visit Wicken Fen

A group of students recently visited one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves, as part of their studies.

Dr Janet Jackson and students at Wicken Fen

Undergraduates studying Environmental Science, Wildlife Conservation, Biology and Countryside and Wildlife Management spent the day at Wicken Fen, in Cambridgeshire, which was the first reserve cared for by the National Trust, starting in 1899.

Wicken Fen is said to be the birthplace of modern ecology, being home to the Godwin Plots, one of the world’s longest-running scientific experiments.

Photos from the visit can be viewed here

Monday, 14 December 2015

Geographers visit the Olympic Park

Dr Alma Clavin took third year geography students to London to explore regeneration in and around the Olympic Park.

The first stop was the Carpenters Housing Estate. We then had a walking tour of the Olympic Park, led by Sarah Birt (Planning and Development Manager at London Legacy Development Corporation). After lunch we had a tour of the Velodrome. There was then just enough time to do a liveability survey of the East Village site (formerly the Athletes' Village).

Third year Geography students outside the Velodrome, Olympic Park, London.

Photos of the visit can be viewed here.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Third year Geography students visit sustainable urban development

Third year Geography students recently visited the new housing development at Upton, Northampton, to learn more about this sustainable urban development.  Dr Chris Holt explained how the sustainable urban drainage system (‘SUDS’) works, and provided contextual information about the on-going housing development.  Students will be carrying out research projects about Upton over the next couple of months.

Third year students at the Upton development, Northampton
Photos from the field visit can be viewed here

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Poem written for Geography students

Earlier this term, second year Human geographers were visited by a group of staff, volunteers and clients from Northampton Hope Centre: the town’s largest centre for homeless and vulnerably housed people.

One of the guest speakers, Ambrose – a client, volunteer and resident poet at the Centre – has written a poem inspired by the visit and dedicated ‘for the student body of University of Northampton’…

For the Student Body of University of Northampton

We all share a common thread.
I was young once as you are now, and a university student with all that entails, if you get my drift. We are really not so different. Really!

Here comes the advice part, take it or leave it. Your decision to make, along with a myriad of others to follow. May all yours lead to the fulfilment of all you desire.

All I ask, having shared an experience together recently, is to – in whatever small regard – factor in humanity and be aware that life can sometimes throw you a massive curveball.

…Click here to find out more about the Hope Centre, and ways we can contribute to the work of this charity: http://www.northamptonhopecentre.org.uk/get-involved

Friday, 27 November 2015

Geography students donate to local good causes

Second year Human Geographers have been learning about the experiences of socially-excluded groups in local communities. A range of guest speakers have explained how everyday objects that we often take for granted can make a huge difference to people experiencing food poverty, isolation, or homelessness. Students have responded brilliantly and made generous donations. For example…

Current third year student Olli Boyde, who volunteers at a local foodbank, described how foodbanks urgently need donations of tinned meats/fish and toiletries. Result: students donated 2 car-boots-full of tins and toiletries which we have shared between local foodbanks.

Olli Boyde and Dr John Horton
Jo Gunnett, Volunteer Coordinator for AgeUK Northants, described how many isolated elderly people experience fuel poverty, and can benefit from music and audio recordings. Result: students donated 15+ pairs of gloves and 7 pairs of headphones, which AgeUK volunteers will distribute to isolated elderly people this winter.

Dr John Horton models some of the donations!

Visitors from Northampton Hope Centre outlined the health and wellbeing problems that local homeless people experience because of wet clothing during winter months. Result: students donated 20+ pairs of socks for the Centre’s clothing bank.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Learning about homelessness

On 9/11/15 visitors from Northampton Hope Centre met second year Human Geographers to talk about the Centre’s work with local people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

Sarah (Day Centre Manager), Ambrose and Jane provided valuable, and often really moving, insights for students who can choose to do an assignment about homelessness as part of their second year studies. They also outlined some of the opportunities for students to engage with the organisation through volunteering, donations (socks urgently needed!), or participation in fundraising events such as the Big Sleep Out.

Former student Brian Hinton, Jane, Ambrose, Sarah (Day Centre Manager) and Dr John Horton

For more information about the Hope Centre, see: http://www.northamptonhopecentre.org.uk/

Former student Brian Hinton also returned to the University to talk about his dissertation research about youth homelessness, conducted with the organisation St. Basil’s.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Geography students return to class

Each year we welcome former students back to class to talk about life after graduation.

Tom Lee, Matt Gibbs and Hardeep Rai

Tom Lee told students about his experiences of postgraduate study, outlining the advantages and challenges of Masters qualification.  He also explained about his current role as a Trainee Operational Meteorologist with the Met Office, and about the competitive recruitment process for this position.

Matt Gibbs works for a corporate communications consultancy, Radley Yeldar.  He told students about how speculative applications can lead to internships and employment.  Matt explained what his role involves on a day-to-day basis, and talked about the importance of finding a career path that is both enjoyable and challenging.

Hardeep Rai works as a Flood and Coastal Risk Management Officer for the Environment Agency.  He told students about what the role involves, and how his studies at Northampton have helped him in this role.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Research finds that England is unlikely to meet recycling targets

Academics from the School of Science and Technology at the University of Northampton, have had a paper published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling – a high impact, internationally peer-reviewed journal.

The paper entitled ‘Strategies for local authorities to achieve the EU 2020 50% recycling, reuse and composting target: a case study of England’, is based on the dissertation of a former MSc Wastes Management student, Steve Waite. Dr Terry Tudor, Paul Cox and Steve used a representative sample of 48 local authorities in England, and concluded that it was unlikely that the country would meet the 2020 target, as set out by the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive. 

Dr Terry Tudor, a senior lecturer in Waste Management at the University of Northampton, commented:
“Our paper outlines the reasons why England is unlikely to meet the target and makes recommendations for improvement. The findings have significant implications – not only for England, but for the other Member States in the EU. This is just one example of the work being done by academics and students within our department to develop strategies to address key environmental management issue, in the UK and also globally.” 
A free copy of the article which was published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling can be downloaded from the link below until December 18:

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Geography graduate returns to class #2

Sian Williams studied Human Geography & Health Studies at the University of Northampton, graduating in 2014.  She recently returned to campus to talk to final year students about life after graduation.

Sian is currently on a graduate programme with Baxi.  She told the students how she had found out about the role, what the application process involved, and what her role involves on a day-to-day basis.

Sian Williams
A number of alumni are attending classes this term as part of the Geographers at Work module.  The module aims to boost students' employability through supporting their career planning.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Students learn about the work of Age UK in Northamptonshire

On 26/10/15 Jo Gunnett, Volunteer Coordinator for Age UK Northamptonshire, visited second year Human Geographers to talk about the organisation’s work in local communities. Jo provided some really valuable insights for students who can choose to do an assignment about issues faced by isolated older people as part of their second year studies.

Jo provided an overview of the services offered by Age UK Northamptonshire, issues faced by local older people, and challenges faced by services and charities ‘in the current climate’ of funding cuts.

Jo Gunnett, Volunteer Coordinator for Age UK Northamptonshire, with Dr John Horton

She also outlined some of the opportunities for students to engage in volunteering: as befrienders, charity shop assistants, sports coaches, knitters, fund-raisers, or friendly faces/tea drinkers/games-players at day care centres. 

For more information about Age UK Northamptonshire, see: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/northamptonshire/