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, 6 November 2017

Geography students are giving older people a helping hand to keep warm this winter

Second years on the Human Geography course have collected 53 pairs of gloves to donate to charity Age UK Northamptonshire, which urgently needs warm clothes for isolated older people in the county.
Students and Prof John Horton modelling some of the gloves donated
The partnership with Age UK came about when the students began exploring research about experiences of poverty and social exclusion in the UK.

Jo Gunnett, Volunteer Coordinator for Age UK Northamptonshire, visited the group to talk about the charity’s work in local communities. Age UK Northamptonshire provides a wide range of services for people in later life, including many who live in situations of chronic poverty and isolation.

Jo also outlined opportunities for students to take part in fundraising and volunteering activities in support of the charity. In response, the Students’ Union Geography Society is planning two fundraisers – a pancake evening for society members, followed by a larger event for students in the spring.

Jo Gunnett from Age UK Northamptonshire, with Prof John Horton

Geography Society president, Gabriella Dyche, said: “When Jo from Age UK explained the situation many older people can find themselves in, it was a real eye-opener for us.

“We were determined to do something to help, and the glove collection is the first of a series of initiatives we are organising.”

For more details about Age UK, visit the website.

This story was first published here.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

University launches Living Lab to help tackle sustainability issues in the local community

A project which connects researchers to members of the local community in a bid to address and tackle sustainability issues has been launched by the University of Northampton, which will further strengthen its commitment to social impact and being a Changemaker Campus.

The Living Lab is a virtual space in which partnerships of researchers, students, external partners, and communities, collaborate to test new technologies, services, products or systems in real-life contexts, with the aim of improving community or environmental outcomes.

It will focus on sustainability across all four of the University's Changemaker Challenges and will develop new relationships, connections and ways of working. It will also provide a framework in which the University can scale its social impact and ensure that local communities are at the heart of its efforts to overcome particular issues that may arise.

Dr Joanna Wright, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography and Environmental Science, who is leading on the Living Lab, commented "Living Labs have a strong presence in Higher Education and have produced significant opportunities for staff, students and communities, to not only engage in research but to address real issues that affect their lives.

"Linking our Living Lab to the University's strategic Changemaker Challenges provides us with a fantastic opportunity to deliver a Living Lab that is unique in the UK."

Joanna is very keen to involve colleagues from across the University, so if you would like more information, or are interested in getting involved with the Living Lab please email Joanna.Wright@northampton.ac.uk

This article was first published here.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Geographers go fossil-hunting

Geography students have been fossil-hunting over the past few weeks.

Second year students visited Hunstanton as part of their 'Past Environments' module.
Students walking along the beach at Hunstanton

Dr Chris Holt finds an ammonite!
First year students visited Wren's Nest, Dudley. The trip provided an opportunity to learn about the geology of the area and to develop fieldwork skills.

A group of first year students fossil-hunting at Wren's Nest
A Trilobite tail found at Wren's Nest

Monday, 23 October 2017

Third year Geography students visit London

Third year Geography students visited London last week as part of their 'Children's Geographies' module.
At the V&A Museum of Childhood

Our first stop was the V&A Museum of Childhood. We looked at how clothing and toys have changed over time.  There were plenty of toys to play with (Henry was a little too big for the rocking horse!), and it was interesting to see how toys from our own childhoods brought back memories and emotions.
After a lunch break in Trafalgar Square, we visited the National Portrait Gallery

After a lunch break we went to the National Portrait Gallery.  We explored how children were represented in portraits, and how this had changed over time.  You can take a look at these portraits here.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Geographers learn about water issues from India Director of WaterHarvest charity

On Thursday 6th October second year Geography and Development students were joined by Om Prakash Sharma, Indian Director of the charity WaterHarvest.

Om Prakash Sharma, Indian Director of WaterHarvest charity, with students. (Photo: Chris Fidler)

Om gave an illustrated lecture and answered questions on the topic of water harvesting in semi-arid areas of Rajasthan, India. He drew attention to the conflicts between large scale government projects such as the transfer of water from river to river across India and the traditional village scale water harvesting methods such as the taanka and the chauka.

Om is currently visiting the UK and we were honoured to have him join us for the session.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Dr Terry Tudor visits the University of Brescia

Dr Terry Tudor reports on his recent visit to the University of Brescia...

I’ve just spent an enjoyable week at the annual summer school by the CeTAmb LAB at the University of Brescia, in Italy. This year, the summer school looked at issues related to water, sanitation and waste management, primarily focused on developing countries. So very much about an integrated approach to the manner in which we address some of our key environmental and health issues, as outlined by Silvio, Daniele and Andrea.

The University of Brescia
On the final day, there were a number of really interesting projects outlined by the participants, that they are currently working on. These included sustainable waste management in Bolivia by Navarro Ferronato, as well as Domenico Vitiello’s agricultural project, for which by the way, he is seeking funding and partners. Certainly, two very worthwhile initiatives.

Also, this week at the University of Brescia, there was a workshop on Industria 4.0, facilitating the digitilisation of manufacturing industry. This very well attended event was hosted by the Laboratorio RISE which is a leading research centre in the field of utilising innovation and circular business models for resource management.

The summer school is open to students from all countries and there is some financial support available for those that wish to attend. If you require more information please feel free to contact me.

Dr Terry Tudor
Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology
University of Northampton

Friday, 26 May 2017

Geography students visit SW USA

Second year Geography students have just returned from trip of a lifetime! They spent two weeks in Nevada, Arizona and Utah as part of the USA Field Module.

The students learned about tourism, geology and landscape development, and resource management.
Learning about tourism and Route 66 in Arizona

Visiting Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

They visited a number of National Parks during the trip, including the Grand Canyon.
Smiling despite the rain!

The traditional Grand Canyon group photo

Admiring Delicate Arch (Arches National Park)

The glorious Bryce Canyon National Park

The group travelled through iconic landscapes, such as Monument Valley.
At Monument Valley
There was also an opportunity to learn about adventure tourism through rafting on the Colorado River in Moab, Utah.
Rafting the Colorado River

Towards the end of the trip the group spent some time in Las Vegas, learning about the unique tourist experience offered by the city.

The group's Twitter account of their trip can be viewed here (no login necessary).

Monday, 10 April 2017

Waste Management student undertakes work shadowing placement at SRCL

Final year Waste Management student, Stephen Anuge, recently undertook a work shadowing placement with SRCL.  SRCL is a leading healthcare waste services provider. The placement was organised by Dr Terry Tudor, a Senior Lecturer in Waste Management.

Read all about Stephen's work placement here.

Read more about Dr Terry Tudor's work supporting student employability here.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Northampton graduate returns to campus to talk about her work on health and development

Sonia Coates is a graduate of the University of Northampton and now works as a consultant for IOD PARC, a development consultancy based in Sheffield. Sonia recently returned to class to talk about her experiences as a development consultant.
Sonia Coates
Sonia is currently a team member working to provide technical assistance and Institutional support to UNICEF India for their reducing Open Defecation programme, and has recently completed a piece of participatory research looking at the impacts of WASH on education for girls in Zimbabwe for Plan International. She has experience of managing multi-country projects across sub-Saharan Africa and has also worked in S E Asia. She has a Masters in Public Health and International Development.

The session was illustrated with material from Sonia's work in Malaysia, Nepal, India and several sub-Saharan countries. She discussed various issues, including Water and Sanitation, child health, infectious and neglected tropical diseases.

Sonia answered students' questions on careers in development - and provided some top tips for those interested in working in this sector.
Sonia's top tips for developing a career in International Development

Friday, 3 March 2017

Geography students learn about the challenging issues surrounding Female Genital Mutilation

Dr Kevin Cook reports on a recent class about the challenging issues surrounding Female Genital Mutilation...

As I move towards the end of my second year module on Geography and Development, I have the opportunity to deal with some of the more challenging issues that face the world. I wanted to try to cover the complex issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) but was keenly aware of my limited understanding of the issues involved and wanted to provide a view from the Global South delivered by ‘practitioners’ working in the field.

I had heard about the excellent work of the UK charity Tanzania Development Trust (TDS) and knew that they worked with communities on FGM. I contacted them and Janet Chapman, Campaigns Manager and Project Officer, kindly offered to set up a Skype session with my students. We linked up with Egle Marija Ramanauskaite in London and Rhobi Samwelli, the TDS representative in the Mara Region in Tanzania.
Tanzania Development Trust logo
The twin highlights of the session were being able to talk directly, via Skype, with Rhobi Samwelli. Rhobi manages a safe house at Mugumu in Mara region for young women who wish to escape the horrors of FGM. The UK students were able to ask Rhobi detailed questions on FGM; questions that I would have been unable to answer.

The second highlight of the session was being able to take part in the online mapping project that Janet is looking after. One of the many problems facing young girls who wish to avoid being cut, is to find their way to the TDS funded safe house at Mugumu. There are no maps to guide them and Janet is using the mapping software package, Openstreetmap, accessible online and on phones.

Students were allocated a small un-mapped square and it soon became a competition to see who could identify the most buildings, roads and paths from the satellite images and transfer them to the base map. Their efforts will be confirmed on the ground later.

Over 900 online volunteers and 199 local mappers are now involved in the project – make that 925 with the University of Northampton students added. They have mapped an area of 14,248 square kilometres and added 5 towns and 169 villages and hamlets, 42,128 km of roads and tracks and 700,000 buildings. Countrywide the project has added 12,294 schools and 162 clinics.

Having better maps helped prevent 2257 girls from being cut in the 2016-17 season. However change is a slow process. 1076 girls were still cut, down from 3700 the previous year and 4 girls died, down from 12 last year.

Many thanks to everyone who made this session possible and especially to Janet, Egle, Rhobi and the GEO2006 students.

Anyone wanting to get involved in this work should contact Janet at j.chapman@tanzdevtrust.org

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Guest speaker tells students about research on agriculture and NGOs in northern Ghana

Rachael Taylor, a post-graduate research student at the University of Sussex, gave a guest lecture to Geography students on  her research in northern Ghana. Rachael is examining ideas associated with what is known as 'adaptive capacity' - how subsistence families adapt to change.
The lecture covered a range of topics (source: Rachael Taylor)
She provided examples of NGO action and showed how this can vary from highly successful and sustainable, to poor and unsustainable.
Learning about diverse agricultural livelihoods (source: Rachael Taylor)
There were opportunities for the class to ask questions about her research and to learn more about the work of NGOs.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Evaluating accessibility on campus

First year Geography students have been learning about accessibility issues on campus. The project links to classes on geographies of disability, and staff research on accessibility issues.

Some groups borrowed a wheelchair to help them evaluate campus spaces. They took measurements of slopes, door widths etc, and tried negotiating particular pathways and corridors.

Thinking about how the angle of slopes can help or impede wheelchair access
Trying popular routes around campus
Thinking about the width of pathways
Other groups used goggles to help them understand the experiences of people with common visual impairments. They thought about challenges related to climbing stairs, reading signs, and crossing roads.
Using goggles to help give some insights into some common visual impairments
This project work has been supported by the University's ASSIST team, who provide support to students with a wide range of disabilities and additional needs.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Geography programmes accredited by Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

In December 2016 we heard the great news that our Single Honours Geography programmes have been accredited by the the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in geographical knowledge and skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of the world beyond higher education. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

To find out more about our Geography programmes click here, or come to one of our Open Days.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Fossil hunting at Wren's Nest, Dudley

Second year Geography students recently visited Wren's Nest, Dudley, as part of their 'Earth Science' module.
Arriving at Wren's Nest
Wren's Nest contains superb exposures of rocks from the middle Silurian period. This provides great opportunities for fossil hunting!
On the hunt for some lovely fossils
Learning to identify fossils
We found a range of interesting fossils, including this fabulous trilobite!
A rather nice trilobite