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/.

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/

Monday, 26 October 2015

Guest speakers talk about poverty, deprivation and austerity in Britain

Second year Human Geographers have been learning about geographies of poverty, deprivation and austerity in the UK.

Regular guest speakers provide really valuable first-hand insights into these issues. For example, third year Geography student Olli Boyde gave a talk about his experiences of volunteering, and conducting dissertation research, at a local food bank.

Olli gave a fantastic overview of issues faced by local users of food bank users. Following Olli’s visit, second year students donated more than 60 items to a collection for local food banks.

Olli Boyde with tutor Dr John Horton - they needed help to carry the students' donations!

A number of students have also been inspired volunteer at local food banks. To find out more about the work of local food banks, see: http://spencerbridge.foodbank.org.uk/ and http://www.restorenorthampton.org.uk/

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Geographers visit London

Geography students have been doing lots of fieldwork activities over the past few weeks - fieldwork is a great way to apply what we have learned in the classroom to real-world environments.

Last week five groups of students visited London to explore a range of geographical issues.

The obligatory group photo at the start of the day!

First year students took part in an activity using Twitter, which required them to develop field observation skills and write concisely.

Recording field observations via Twitter

Groups comparing their observations using Twitter

Some second year students visited the Natural History Museum to enhance their geological knowledge, whilst others explored transport geography using different sorts of travel modes.

Taking a well-earned rest after a busy day of fieldwork
There were a few opportunities to see the sights
Third year students studying water resource management learned about cholera, sewers and London's hidden rivers...

A little bit of mudlarking!
Third year students on the Children's Geographies module visited the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. They looked at paintings and sculptures to explore how representations of childhood have varied over time.

Some third year students outside the Victoria & Albert Museum

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Geography graduate returns to class

As part of the GEO3030 Geographers at Work module recent graduates return to class to tell current students about life after graduation.

Mitch Robinson joined the class this week to talk about his career.  Mitch studied BSc (Hons) Geography at Northampton and graduated in July 2014.  His first role was with the Black Country Consortium, working as an Economic Development Graduate.  Mitch outlined the skills he had learned in this role, and the process of applying for - and getting! - that first graduate job.

Mitchell Robinson
He also outlined his current role - he is now a Sustainable Travel Officer for Centro.  His role focuses on cycling and walking.  Mitch outlined the work he has been doing with the Bostin Bikes scheme, and explained how he has been working with various stakeholders to develop further cycle routes in the region.

There were opportunities for students to ask questions about the role and to find out more about graduate recruitment processes.

Mitch's visit was the first in a series - a number of other graduates will be returning to class over the next few weeks...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Dr John Horton finds out about the everyday lives of children in India

Dr. John Horton has just returned from a trip to India as part of the ESRC-funded New Urbanisms in India research project. This major, three year project aims to explore the everyday lives of children and young people living in contexts of rapid urban development in India. John receives funding to act as mentor to the project’s Principal Investigator (Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill) and postdoctoral research assistant (Dr. Cristiana Zara), who are both based at the University of Birmingham.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • participatory workshops with children and young people from very diverse backgrounds in and around the newly-built city of Lavasa;
  • presentations and dissemination events at the National Institute of Urban Affairs (Delhi), CEPT University (Ahmedabad), and with staff and students from Universal College of Engineering (Mumbai);
  • a very moving visit to the NGO Humara Bachpan (‘Our Childhood’) which supports children and families living in acute urban poverty – children led the research team on a guided walk of one of Delhi’s largest areas of slum housing;
  • an inspiring visit to Riverside School in Ahmedabad – HQ of the Design for Change programme, which seeks to empower children and ‘give them an opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into action’.
Children and adults working together on a mapping project in a government school near Lavasa

It was a fantastic and fascinating trip. For more information about the New Urbanisms in India research project see http://www.new-urbanism-india.com/ 

Dr John Horton (and friends!)