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Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Welcome to the website of the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge. Geography at Cambridge has a long tradition and an exciting future and we invite you to browse our site and find out more about us.

Information is available online about our Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses, research taking place in the Department, staff and other information via the links on the menu to the left.

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IPS Fellowship at the Library of Congress

IPS Fellowship at the Library of Congress

We are delighted to announce that one of our PhD students, Ave Lauren, has been awarded a prestigious AHRC/ESRC IPS Fellowship at the Library of Congress.

Geography PhD student in Nature Climate Change, July 2014

Geography PhD student in Nature Climate Change, July 2014

A new article published by PhD student, David Christian Rose, his first academic publication, discusses 'five ways' in which researchers might enhance the impact of climate science. In recognising that evidence is just one factor in a complex decision-making process, climate scientists would do well to 1) reject an evidence-based mindset to presenting knowledge, and 2) adopt an evidence-informed approach allowing knowledge to be persuasive after interaction with other factors. As part of this mindset, climate scientists should 3) not overrate certainty of evidence, 4) tell good news stories, and 5) re-frame climate science to be policy relevant whenever possible.

Rose, D.C. (2014) 'Five ways to enhance the impact of climate science', Nature Climate Change, 4 (7) (25 June 2014): 522–524.

The Shrinking Commons Symposium

The Shrinking Commons Symposium

On 8-9 September 2014, the department will be hosting a major international Symposium, 'The Shrinking Commons', to debate the changing nature of the commons and the intellectual and political challenges posed by the changes. All are welcome to the public lectures that form part of the Symposium.

Shane McCorristine collaborates on Antarctic Pavilion at Venice Biennale

Shane McCorristine collaborates on Antarctic Pavilion at Venice Biennale

Dr Shane McCorristine has collaborated with artists and architects on the Antarctic Pavilion at the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture. Commissioned by the Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev and curated by Nadim Samman, "Antarctopia" is the first time that Antarctica has been represented at this prestigious cultural event. The Pavilion interrogates the architectural relationship humans have with Antarctica, looking at heroic pasts, techno-scientific presents, and imagined futures. Shane contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue entitled "'What shall we call it?' Performing home in Antarctica". The Biennale runs from June 7 - November 23 2014.

Cambridge Geography ranked best degree by the Guardian University Guide

Cambridge Geography ranked best degree by the Guardian University Guide

The Department of Geography has once again been placed at the top for Geography and Environmental Science in the the Guardian newspaper 2015 Universities Guide.

Our online course guide has full details on the Geography Degree at Cambridge.

Pan-Inuit Trails Atlas Launched at SPRI

Pan-Inuit Trails Atlas Launched at SPRI

A new digital resource brings together centuries of cultural knowledge for the first time, showing that networks of trails over snow and sea ice, seemingly unconnected to the untrained eye, in fact span a continent – and that the Inuit have long-occupied one of the most resource-rich and contested areas on the planet. The material has been digitised and organised geospatially, with trails mapped out over satellite imagery using global positioning systems. It constitutes the first attempt to map the ancient hubs and networks that have long-existed in a part of the world frequently and wrongly depicted as 'empty': as though an unclaimed stretch of vacant space.

"To the untutored eye, these trails may seem arbitrary and indistinguishable from surrounding landscapes. But for Inuit, the subtle features and contours are etched into their narratives and story-telling traditions with extraordinary precision," said Dr Michael Bravo from the Scott Polar Research Institute, part of the Department of Geography. "This atlas is a first step in making visible some of the most important tracks and trails spanning the North American continent from one end to the other. Essentially the trails and the atlas reduce the topology of the Arctic, revealing it to be a smaller, richer, and more intimate world."

Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure: 50th Anniversary Conference

Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure: 50th Anniversary Conference

A conference, Population Histories in Context: Past achievements and future directions, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, will be held on 16th-18th September 2014 at Downing College, Cambridge, UK.

The conference will consist of six themed sessions, with invited speakers covering topics related to the Group's past work and to emerging issues: population and economy; mortality and the urban penalty; household formation systems; marital fertility and celibacy; ageing; and 'the West and the Rest'.

Active groundwater reservoir found beneath the Antarctic ice sheet

Active groundwater reservoir found beneath the Antarctic ice sheet

Glaciologists at SPRI have identified a large subglacial groundwater reservoir beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The reservoir was found to be connected with a hydrological network in five large drainage basins, and to feed nutrients to subglacial lakes where living organisms may exist. Poul Christoffersen, the lead author of the study, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, talks to Planet Earth Online.

Royal Society Resilience event at Hay Festival

Royal Society Resilience event at Hay Festival

Dr Bhaskar Vira is participating in a panel discussion on Resilience to Disaster at the Hay Festival 2014, on Friday 30 May. The panel discussion has been organised by the Royal Society, and will be Chaired by Professor Georgina Mace, University College London. The other participants are Dr Camilla Toulmin, Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, and Professor Katrina Brown, from the University of Exeter.

The event will draw on the work of the Royal Society Working Group on Human Resilience to Climate Change and Disasters, to which Dr Vira is contributing. The panel will discuss the evidence that is being analysed in order to inform the important decisions regarding adaptation and risk reduction that are being made at global, national and local levels. Questions to be address in this session include: How do we prepare ourselves for the impacts of weather-related disasters? What are our options and how do we decide which is the best approach to take? What is the contribution of ecosystem-based approaches to resilience? What are the roles of state, business and community responses in this context?

The Randolph Glacier Inventory 3.2

The Randolph Glacier Inventory 3.2

Second year PhD student Evan Miles is one of fourteen lead authors on a recent paper documenting a new and complete inventory of all glaciers across the globe. The full authorship includes 74 scientists from 18 countries. The inventory has been derived from careful analysis of satellite imagery and contains 198,000 glaciers covering an area totaling 726,800 km2. The inventory has been crucial in helping to derive recent estimates of glacier mass balance and volume changes and their contribution to recent sea level rise, as summarized in the latest (2013) IPCC report. (Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 60, No. 221, 2014

Professor Ron Martin awarded Doctorate of Science

Professor Ron Martin awarded Doctorate of Science

The Department is pleased to announce that Professor Ron Martin has been awarded a Doctorate of Science by the University, in recognition of his contributions to three main areas in economic geography - the relationship between economic geography and geographical economics; regional development theory; and the construction of a new paradigm of evolutionary economic geography.

At present Ron is engaged on a major (£3m) Foresight Programme on the Future of Cities for the UK Government Office for Science and has recently been appointed to the Advisory Board to the London Economic Panel, chaired by the Mayor of London, which is concerned with the development and diversification of London's economy over the next 25 years.

Ron is also a founder editor of the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, and oversees the Cambridge Centre for Geographical Economic Research. He has also just been appointed as Chair of Research for the Regional Studies Association.

Hidden Lands & Sealed Mountains - Geography Library Art Exhibit

Hidden Lands & Sealed Mountains - Geography Library Art Exhibit

The Geography Library is currently running an exhibition, 'Hidden Lands & Sealed Mountains'. This is a PhD project exhibit by RS Kuyakanon Knapp.

Open Days for prospective Undergraduates - Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th July 2014

Open Days for prospective Undergraduates - Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th July 2014

Each summer we hold Open Days, at which we welcome students considering applying to read Geography at Cambridge.

This year's open days will be on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th July 2014.

Dr Mia Gray wins Teaching Excellence Award

Dr Mia Gray wins Teaching Excellence Award

Mia Gray, University Senior Lecturer in the Department, has been given a Teaching Excellence Award by Cambridge University Students' Union.

Mia's award noted her innovative and engaging teaching style, her support for students, and her ability to inspire critical and imaginative thinking.

Three lectureship posts

Three lectureship posts

The Department is currently advertising three lectureship posts - University Lecturer in Coastal Processes, and two University Lecturer in Human Geography posts.

Professor Phil Gibbard awarded the André Dumont Medal

Professor Phil Gibbard awarded the André Dumont Medal

Professor Phil Gibbard was awarded the André Dumont Medal by Geologica Belgica, the Belgian national geological society, on 1 April 2014 in Ghent. The medal was presented in recognition of Phil's achievements in Quaternary Geology.

Geography graduate students win top two prizes at prestigious conference

Geography graduate students win top two prizes at prestigious conference

Graduate students in the Department of Geography have won the top two prizes for presentations at the 2014 Student Conference in Conservation Science. Maria Nube Szephegyi, a Uruguayan student who is a Masters in Conservation Leadership student, won First Prize for her talk describing how she combined years of good science with committed leadership to improve understanding and conservation of the Franciscana dolphin. Lauren Evans, a PhD student, won Second Prize for her talk about fence-breaking behaviour among elephants in Kenya. We congratulate them both!

More calories from fewer sources means more profit and less nutrition

More calories from fewer sources means more profit and less nutrition

David Nally published a column in The Conversation on the rapid narrowing of global food sources and its consequences for human, animal and ecological health.

Doran Lecture

Doran Lecture

On 18 March 2014, Dr Bhaskar Vira will deliver the seventh lecture of the Doran Fund Annual Lecture Series, hosted by The Faculty of Social Sciences at the Hebrew University Jerusalem. The subject of the lecture is: 'Boundaries, thresholds and limits: exploring the political economy of population, resources and development in the 21st century'.

The D.B. Doran Fund in Population, Resources and Economic Development has provided generous support for the annual lecture. The lecture is associated with the Glocal Community-Development Studies programme, which is a new MA program at the Faculty of Social Science, providing tools for the effective translation of academic perspectives into practical know-how conducive to work with communities across the globe.

Cambridge Literary Festival

Cambridge Literary Festival

On April 5th, 2014 Dr. David Nally will take part in a panel discussion at the Cambridge Literary Festival on the subject of 'global food security'. He will be joined by with Ottoline Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, and Lizzie Collingham, historian and author of The Taste of War. The conversation will take place in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre from 4-5pm.

Julian Dowdeswell awarded the IASC Medal for 2014

Julian Dowdeswell awarded the IASC Medal for 2014

Julian Dowdeswell has been awarded the IASC Medal for 2014 by the International Arctic Science Committee 'as a World leader in the field of Arctic glaciology'. The committee also highlighted Prof. Dowdeswell's outreach and communication activities which have been instrumental for public understanding of Arctic change. The full citation for the award is on the IASC website.

Prof. Jon Harbor: Reconstructing spatial & temporal patterns of past glaciation of the Tibetan Plateau, Tian Shan, & Altai Mountains using geomorphic mapping & cosmogenic radionuclide dating

Prof. Jon Harbor: Reconstructing spatial & temporal patterns of past glaciation of the Tibetan Plateau, Tian Shan, & Altai Mountains using geomorphic mapping & cosmogenic radionuclide dating

Prof. Jon Harbor, Purdue University, Lafayette, Illinois, will be speaking on Thursday February 20th on the subject of "Reconstructing spatial & temporal patterns of past glaciation of the Tibetan Plateau, Tian Shan, & Altai Mountains using geomorphic mapping & cosmogenic radionuclide dating".

Overtopping not river bank failure

Overtopping not river bank failure

The Department's Dr Tom Spencer, and others from the British Society for Geomorphology, have written to The Times to highlight the important role of geomorphology in understanding the current storms and floods (14 February 2014): 'Sir, your vivid front page aerial image of the Thames flooding ("water world', Feb 11) shows the severity of the situation and the consequences of the recent weather. However, to say that "the Thames burst its banks" is not correct. Rivers do occasionally burst through embankments but in British rivers when there is too much water for the channel to contain, the channel is overtopped and water spills onto the floodplain. This is not just semantics but rather, as geomorphologists know, it is key to understanding what solutions to the problem will eventually be needed, because dredging cannot provide channels large enough to contain the amount of water being rained upon us. Ken Gregory, Heather Viles, David Sear, Steve Darby and Tom Spencer British Society for Geomorphology'.

Professor Paul Robbins, Distinguished International Fellow in Cambridge February 10-14

Professor Paul Robbins, Distinguished International Fellow in Cambridge February 10-14

Professor Paul Robbins, Director of the Nelson Institute at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, will be visiting us from February 10th-14th. Paul is the Department's first Distinguished International Fellow. He brings with him a wealth of expertise in the field of political ecology. He is the author of the analysis of the ecology of suburban American lawns in his book Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are, in which he famously asked "how did the needs of grass come to be my own?". During his week long visit, he will be giving a departmental seminar, an early career researcher seminar, and a public lecture, as well as interacting with researchers.

Book prize: Atlas of Epidemic Britain: a Twentieth Century Picture

Book prize: Atlas of Epidemic Britain: a Twentieth Century Picture

Professor Andrew Cliff and Professor Matthew Smallman-Raynor (School of Geography, University of Nottingham) together won the British Medical Association's prize for the best new book in public health, 2013, and the overall prize for the best medical book, 2013, for their full colour Atlas of Epidemic Britain: a Twentieth Century Picture (Oxford University Press). Using nearly 500 new maps, charts and photographs, this Atlas views a century of change - the ebb and flow of infection - in Britain's epidemic landscape. It maps and interprets the time-space tapestry woven in twentieth century Britain by the uneven retreat of some infectious diseases, the emergence of new infections, and the re-emergence of historic plagues. The Atlas summarises the epidemics caused by different pathogens, their current status and the probability of future control.

Brave New Epoch: a search for humankind's mark on the Earth

Brave New Epoch: a search for humankind's mark on the Earth

Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist began popularising the idea of the Anthropocene in 2001, citing evidence such as humanity's alterations of biodiversity and our changing of the climate through the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Scientists agree that evidence of these and other global changes will leave a lasting impression in the geological record. However, the Anthropocene is not recognised by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), the body which safeguards the geological time scale. Jan Zalasiewicz's efforts may change that—his ICS working group wishes to formalise the Anthropocene time division.

Other geologists argue that the Anthropocene may not be suitable for the geological timescale at all. One critic, Philip Gibbard, a Cambridge stratigrapher and member of the ICS working group, says the time in which we now live should be called the Late Holocene, because it is consistent with this most recent official Epoch. "For the Anthropocene to merit formal definition, a global signature distinct from that of the Holocene is required that is marked by novel biotic, sedimentary, and geochemical change," Gibbard wrote in a paper published last year. (article by Billings, in Nautilus 2014).

Assessing coastal ‘bio-buffers’ from space

Assessing coastal ‘bio-buffers’ from space

The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit of the University of Cambridge participates in a 2.8 M Euros EU research project to use satellites and ecosystems in flood risk management strategies.

The European 7th Framework Programme (SPACE) is funding a consortium of five European institutions (including the University of Cambridge) from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Romania and Spain to work on the FAST project (Foreshore Assessment using Space Technology). FAST started this month (January 2014) and will last 4 years. The consortium will generate the first standardised tool for integrating ecosystem properties into flood risk management strategies. To achieve this objective, space technology and field measurements will be combined to study 8 foreshores and floodplain ecosystems in four European countries.

Cambridge in Davos

Cambridge in Davos

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been at the World Economic Forum in Davos (22-25 January 2014), delivering an invited presentation on 'Glaciers, Ice Sheets and Environmental Change'. He is part of a Cambridge contingent that includes the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Martin Rees and Jon Hutton. They each spoke in a session on 'Cambridge Ideas' at the Forum. Julian has given interviews on the changing polar regions and their global implications in Davos and more information about Cambridge in Davos is available. A video of Julian's interview is available online.

Ash Amin awarded CBE in 2014 Queen's New Year's Honours for Contribution to Social Sciences

Ash Amin awarded CBE in 2014 Queen's New Year's Honours for Contribution to Social Sciences

Economic geographer Professor Ash Amin has been awarded a CBE for his services to Social Science. Amin is known for his work on, amongst other things, the economy as a cultural entity, the geographies of modern living and globalisation as an everyday process. Recently he has focused on cultures of calamity, the contemporary urban condition, and the rights of the poor, looking into urban cohesion and racial integration.

Chris Sandbrook appears on the BBC Radio 4 Shared Planet series

Chris Sandbrook appears on the BBC Radio 4 Shared Planet series

Chris Sandbrook, the Lecturer in Conservation Leadership, was interviewed as part of a programme about community conservation in the BBC Radio 4 Shared Planet series, first broadcast on Tuesday 14th January. You can listen to the interview, which starts about 18 minutes into the episode.

Departmental Seminar: Professor Alison Blunt on 'At Home in a Diaspora City: Urban Domesticities and Domestic Urbanism'

Departmental Seminar: Professor Alison Blunt on 'At Home in a Diaspora City: Urban Domesticities and Domestic Urbanism'

On Thursday 23rd of January, the Department of Geography welcomes Professor Alison Blunt (Queen Mary, University of London) who will be speaking on 'At Home in a Diaspora City: Urban Domesticities and Domestic Urbanism'. The seminar will begin at 4.30pm in the Small Lecture Theatre, with drinks to follow. Co hosted with the University's ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. All are welcome!

Coastal Unit surveys storm surge levels

Coastal Unit surveys storm surge levels

A storm surge on 5-6 December 2013 threatened urban centres and rural communities around the southern North Sea in a similar way to such an event 60 years ago. High resolution measurements of maximum water level elevations were obtained by teams from the Department's Cambridge Coastal Research Unit along the 45 km-long coastline of North Norfolk, eastern England. These measurements confirm that the December 2013 event was comparable to, and in places exceeded, 1953 flood levels.

Read more …

4 degree temperature rise will end vegetation 'carbon sink'

4 degree temperature rise will end vegetation 'carbon sink'

New research suggests that a temperature increase of 4 degrees is likely to cause vegetation carbon sinks to reach saturation, preventing plants from helping offset CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning. The research was coordinated by Andrew Friend of the Department of Geography, and is part of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a unique community-driven effort to bring research on climate change impacts to a new level, with the first wave of research published this week in a special issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more …

Lakes discovered beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet using radar

This study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reports the discovery using airborne radar of two subglacial lakes 800 metres below the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The two lakes are each roughly 8 to 10 square-kilometres in area, and at one point may have been up to three times larger than their current size.

Subglacial lakes are likely to influence the flow of the ice sheet which, in turn, impacts global sea-level change. The discovery of the lakes in Greenland will help researchers to understand how the ice will respond to changing environmental conditions.

The work was undertaken by Steve Palmer, Julian Dowdeswell, Poul Christoffersen and Toby Benham at the Institute, in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Texas and Bristol.

The Storm Surge: In- and Outdoors!

The Storm Surge: In- and Outdoors!

The team of the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit of the Department of Geography has just returned from an experiment to investigate the effect of saltmarshes on high water levels and waves at one of the world's largest wave flumes in Hannover Germany, only to find a real storm surge battering their wave recording equipment on the UK coast. This is the first time ever that data has been collected over saltmarshes in such conditions – both in the flume and on the coast. Read more about the flume experiment and watch this space for more news on the latest UK storm surge.

Space for Giants

Space for Giants

The Independent newspaper has chosen the Charity Space for Giants for its Christmas Appeal. This was set up by Max Graham who did his PhD in the department (funded by a NERC/ESRC Studentship, co-supervised in Biological Anthropology), and was then a co-PI on a DEFRA Darwin Initiative Project in the department on Human Elephant Conflict in Kenya.

Departmental Seminar: Professor Anson Mackay on 'Unravelling Long-term Ecosystem Dynamics in Central Asia using Palaeoecology'

Departmental Seminar: Professor Anson Mackay on 'Unravelling Long-term Ecosystem Dynamics in Central Asia using Palaeoecology'

On Thursday 28th November, the Department of Geography welcomes Professor Anson W. Mackay (University College London) who will be speaking on 'Unravelling Long-term Ecosystem Dynamics in Central Asia using Palaeoecology'. The seminar will begin at 4.15 pm in the Small Lecture Theatre, with drinks to follow. All are welcome!

Research Seminar 21st November: Dr. Ariel Handel

Research Seminar 21st November: Dr. Ariel Handel

On Thursday 21st November in the Seminar Room in the Geography Department Dr. Ariel Handel (Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University and the French Research Center, Jerusalem) will present a research seminar entitled Soundscapes and Touchscapes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Chronic Uncertainty, Bodily Vulnerability and the Non-representational Condition. All are welcome!

Graduate student gives evidence to Parliament

Graduate student gives evidence to Parliament

One of the Department's graduate students, Lottie Birdsall-Strong (MPhil in Gender Studies), has just given evidence in front for a parliamentary committee on increasing the participation of women in sports.

Lottie discusses the extension of Title IX -- the American Equal Opportunity in Education Act which disallows discrimination in any education program receiving federal funds. Title IX is best known for its impact on increasing girls and women's participation in high school and collegiate athletics.

Lottie, supervised by Dr. Mia Gray, is currently researching the political and social barriers to replicating a version of Title IX within the British context.

Departmental Seminar Thursday Nov. 14th: Professor Andrew Barry

Departmental Seminar Thursday Nov. 14th: Professor Andrew Barry

On Thursday November 14th the Department welcomes Professor Andrew Barry (Dept. of Geography, University College London) who will be speaking on 'Interrogating the political situation: between science studies and the geography of politics' The seminar will begin at 4:15 pm in the Small Lecture Theatre, with drinks to follow. All are welcome!

Read more …

David Nally awarded Philip Leverhulme Prize

David Nally awarded Philip Leverhulme Prize

Dr David Nally has been awarded of one of the 2013 Philip Leverhulme Prizes for 2013. Twenty nine prizes were awarded this year across six disciplines, one of which was Geography.

Dissertation Prize

Dissertation Prize

Becky House, a Newnham student who graduated in 2013, has been awarded joint runner-up in the Historical Geography Research Group's undergraduate dissertation competition. Her dissertation was on 'Performing Prague's Heritage: The Performative Politics of Historical Walking Tours'.

Library display: fieldwork in Bhutan

Library display: fieldwork in Bhutan

The Department of Geography Library is piloting a small display reflecting on fieldwork recently carried out in Bhutan. It is hoped that this will be the first of a series of small exhibitions showing the wide-ranging research interests of members of the department.

30-year-old mystery solved?

30-year-old mystery solved?

Clive Oppenheimer is among the authors of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which identifies Mt. Rinjani, a volcano on Lombok Island in Indonesia, as the source of a colossal eruption that took place in 1257 AD. Previously, the eruption was only known of because it left traces of sulphur and ash in the polar regions that have been detected in ice cores. New geological, geochemical and radiocarbon evidence substantiates the link to Mt. Rinjani, in addition to Indonesian chronicles that describe a devastating 13th century eruption on Lombok.

The eruption released so much sulphur that it cooled summer temperatures in Europe, likely leading to poor harvests, and possibly famine. The city of Pamatan, seat of the former Lombok kingdom, may lie buried beneath pumice inviting discovery by archaeologists. The volcano's last eruptions took place in 2010 but were relatively minor. The research was led by Franck Lavigne at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University.

Departmental Seminar Series opens with 'Expecting the Best and the Worst from Synthetic Biology’

Departmental Seminar Series opens with 'Expecting the Best and the Worst from Synthetic Biology’

The Departmental Seminar Series 2013-2014 convenes its first seminar on Oct. 10th and welcomes Dr. Claire Marris (King's College London) who will be speaking on 'Expecting the Best and the Worst from Synthetic Biology'.

The seminar will be held from 16:15-18:00 in the Department's Small Lecture Theatre, with drinks to follow. All are welcome.

Dr Ian Willis speaks at the Cambridge Alumni Festival 2013

Dr Ian Willis speaks at the Cambridge Alumni Festival 2013

Dr Ian Willis will give a talk entitled "Climate Change and the Greenland Ice Sheet" at this year's Cambridge University Alumni Festival. It will draw upon the latest research in this region of the Arctic, including his own work investigating the effects of ice sheet melting, surface lake filling and draining, and glacier acceleration. It takes place in the Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue on Saturday 28th September, 1:30 – 2:30. Further details about this and other events can be found at the Alumni Festival website.

A new application for the International Chronostratigraphic Chart!

A new application for the International Chronostratigraphic Chart!

The International Commission on Stratigraphy's (ICS) Chronostratigraphic Chart, designed and produced by Stan Finney (California State University - Long Beach), Kim Cohen (University of Utrecht) and Phil Gibbard, published in January 2013, has been adapted for Shell BV's headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands. Originally published in English the chart is now available in French, Chinese, Norwegian, Basque and Spanish language versions.

Glaciologists at SPRI to explore Antarctic source of sea level rise

Glaciologists at SPRI to explore Antarctic source of sea level rise

Researchers at ten British universities, the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre are teaming up in a mission that aims to discover what is causing the recent rapid loss of ice from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. The research project, which is funded by the National Environmental Research Council and known as iSTAR, is important for understanding sea-level rise, a global phenomenon which has major implications for coastal cities and environments around the world. The Cambridge University scientists contributing to the project are Dr Marion Bougamont, Dr Poul Christoffersen and Professor Liz Morris. All three are glaciologists at the Scott Polar Research Institute.

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory

American television production company Warner Brothers will use the International Commission on Stratigraphy's International Chronostratigraphic Chart. The chart will appear in the next episode of their networked series 'The Big Bang Theory' which involves a geologist. The Chart was designed by Philip Gibbard, Kim Cohen (University of Utrecht) and Stan Finney (California State University - Long Beach).

Professor Ron Martin appointed as member of Government's Chief Scientific Officer's Foresight Project on the Future of Cities

Professor Ron Martin appointed as member of Government's Chief Scientific Officer's Foresight Project on the Future of Cities

Professor Ron Martin has been appointed to the Expert Group that will lead the Foresight project on the Future of Cities just launched by the Sir Mark Walport, the Government's Chief Scientific Officer. This two-year project will seek to determine what Britain's cities will look like over the next 25-50 years, what sort of challenges they are likely to face, and what sort of policies will be needed to ensure our cities will be able meet those challenges and how far they can be made prosperous, sustainable and liveable spaces.

New book on interdisciplinary approaches to temporary work and unfree labour

New book on interdisciplinary approaches to temporary work and unfree labour

Routledge Studies in Employment and Work Relations in Context has just published a new collection, edited by Dr. Kendra Strauss (Cambridge) and Professor Judy Fudge (University of Victoria), on Temporary Work, Agencies and Unfree Labour: Insecurity in the New World of Work.

The book brings together contributions from geographers, labour lawyers and political scientists to explore new and evolving forms intermediation and unfreedom in contemporary labour markets. Grounded in geographical case studies, the chapters examine processes of regulatory and labour market change in Europe, North America, China and Africa.

Cambridge Geography ranked best degree by the Guardian University Guide

Cambridge Geography ranked best degree by the Guardian University Guide

The Guardian University Guide has once again given top place to the Geography Degree at Cambridge for 2014.

Our online course guide has full details on the Geography Degree at Cambridge.

Read more …

Ron Martin gives the Annual Gregory Lecture

Ron Martin gives the Annual Gregory Lecture

On 22 May, Ron Martin gave the 21st Annual Gregory Lecture at the University of Southampton. Every year an internationally leading geographer is selected to give this prestigious public lecture in the fields of physical, human or environmental geography. Ron's lecture was on "Resilience and the Economic Landscape".

Professor Keith Richards awarded Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society

Professor Keith Richards awarded Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society

Professor Keith Richards has been awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. This is one of the two Royal Medals awarded by the Society each year, as approved by HM The Queen. The Medal has been awarded to Keith 'for the encouragement and development of physical geography and fluvial geomorphology', and will be presented at the AGM on 3rd June.

Climate change: can nature help us?

Climate change: can nature help us?

Flooding, landslides, crop failure, water shortages. Across the globe, the frequency with which humans are suffering the ill effects of climatic variability and extreme weather events is on the increase. Can natural environments be used effectively to help people adapt to the effects of climate change? The first systematic review of this question – facilitated by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) Collaborative Fund for Conservation and involving three members of the Department of Geography – finds much evidence of their effectiveness.

Archaeologists say that the 'Anthropocene' is here - but it began long ago

Archaeologists say that the 'Anthropocene' is here - but it began long ago

Professor Phil Gibbard joined Bruce Smith from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, USA, for a Science Live web chat discussion entitled 'Archaeologists say that the 'Anthropocene' is here - but it began long ago'. It took place on Thursday 25 April 2013 and can be watched on the Science website.

Masters in Conservation Leadership students shine alongside Sir David Attenborough at CCI Conservation Campus launch

Masters in Conservation Leadership students shine alongside Sir David Attenborough at CCI Conservation Campus launch

Students from the Masters in Conservation Leadership were privileged to attend an inspiring and insightful lecture by Sir David Attenborough in the University of Cambridge Senate House on 2nd April. The event was attended by over 400 guests from across the University and associated conservation organisations in and around Cambridge, to mark the official launch of the Cambridge Conservation Campus.

Read more …

Debating the right to food

Debating the right to food

Dr Bhaskar Vira and Dr David Nally have written a short piece for The Guardian Poverty Matters website, and for Al Jazeera, discussing the recent adoption of a National Food Security Bill by the Indian cabinet, and its implications for wider debates about the Right to Food, welfare and social security. These issues will be discussed at an event organised by Dr Vira and Dr Nally at King's Place in London, being held on Monday 8 April as part of the University Strategic Research Initiative on Global Food Security, at which particpants will debate issues relating to the Right to Food.

One of the participants in the London debate, Mr Harsh Mander, who is Special Commissioner on the Right to Food to the Indian Supreme Court, will be visiting the Department this week. He will participate in a research workshop on food security in India, on Tuesday, and deliver a public lecture in the Department entitled 'Inequality and Indifference: the Indian Story' at 11 am on Wednesday 10 April.

Last letter of Captain Scott finally revealed in full - 101 years on

Last letter of Captain Scott finally revealed in full - 101 years on

A letter written by the dying Captain Scott - one of only two remaining in private hands - can be revealed in full for the first time after being acquired by the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Gang labour in the UK on Radio 4, Thinking Allowed

Gang labour in the UK on Radio 4, Thinking Allowed

Dr Kendra Strauss from the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge and Professor Ben Rogaly from the Department of Geography, University of Sussex will discuss labour exploitation on Radio 4's Thinking Allowed program on Wednesday March 27th, 4pm. The programme will include a discussion of Dr. Strauss's 2012 Antipode paper 'Unfree Again: Social Reproduction, Flexible Labour Markets and the Resurgence of Gang Labour in the UK'.

The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research

The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research

Recent decades have witnessed the release of a multitude of studies looking at imaginative and spiritual geographies, maps and monsters, and the psychical landscape of the supernatural. Taken together, this corpus has acted to problematise any reductionist "breaks" which theorise a "decline of magic" (Keith Thomas) or "disenchantment of the world" (Max Weber) in modernity. During this period human geography has undertaken "affectual" and "emotional" turns, while researchers in cultural and literary studies have been working with the "supernatural turn" of the "uncanny nineties". Maintaining a broad field of vision, the theme of this workshop is the geographical unconscious. This meeting brings together contributions ranging from early modern studies to the Arctic humanities to examine and compare the political and cultural agencies at work.

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Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left

Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left

A new book by Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift has been published: Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left (Duke University Press, March 2013). A sample chapter can be accessed online.

"Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift provoke us to ask what are the new ways of being human in the twenty-first century and what are the new forms of political action to meet these challenges."—David Stark, author of The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life.

Cost of Conservation debate at Science Festival

Cost of Conservation debate at Science Festival

Dr Bhaskar Vira and Dr Chris Sandbrook are taking part in a panel discussion on 'The Cost of Conservation' on the first day of the 2013 University of Cambridge Science Festival. The discussion will be held on Monday 11 March, 8 pm - 9 pm in the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms. The event is co-organised and convened with collaborators from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

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Retribution and restoration: Bosnia on trial

Retribution and restoration: Bosnia on trial

Twenty years after Bosnia was devastated by civil war, ordinary people who witnessed, or were the targets of horrific war crimes, are still not getting the support they need from a process designed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Cambridge University reports on research by Dr. Alex Jeffrey.

Icy debate on BBC’s ‘The Forum’

Icy debate on BBC’s ‘The Forum’

Poul Christoffersen can be heard on the BBC World Service after his recent return from Antarctica, to debate "Ice" with fellow scientist Mary Albert and visual artist Camille Seaman. The debate is a journey into the wilderness of polar regions and the panelists explain how they are confronted by impacts from climate change.

Water under the ice

Water under the ice

Craig Stewart, PhD student and recipient of the Scott Centenary Scholarship, talks to The New Zealand Herald about floating ice shelves in a warming climate. The interview took place in a remote camp on the Ross Ice Shelf, and during the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's visit to Antarctica. Craig's PhD research at the Scott Polar Research Institute aims to understand how ocean currents affect the Ross Ice Shelf, a large (487,000 km2) floating part of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The journals of William Hooper: Inuit ethnographer and evangelical

The journals of William Hooper: Inuit ethnographer and evangelical

The Arctic humanities are a broad and developing field, encompassing subjects from the social impact of environmental change to the use of indigenous mapping techniques in western geographical knowledge. Taking a broad historical and circumpolar perspective, this seminar series explores the encounters and engagements between different actors, communities, and systems of knowledge in the Arctic. How do historical encounters and passages continue to shape issues of contemporary governance in the polar regions? This seminar series showcases the interdisciplinary strengths of the Scott Polar Research Institute while also engaging with the research of visiting and invited scholars.

Our natural wave buffers

Our natural wave buffers

A storm surge in the North Sea caused catastrophic flooding on the coast of eastern England on 31 January 1953. The flood inundated more than 65,000 hectares of land, damaged 24,000 houses and around 200 important industrial premises, resulting in 307 deaths in the immediate flooding phase.

The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit in the Department of Geography is part of the Natural Environment Research Council's CBESS project, investigating the role of saltmarshes and coastal ecosystems in reducing flood damage. The project features in an article by BBC Science editor David Shukman on 31st January 2013 and in a Cambridge University feature on the research. See also a BBC News piece on iPlayer.

The future of smallholder farming

The future of smallholder farming

In an blog published in The Guardian David Nally and Bhaskar Vira argue that smallholder farmers are too often ignored in schemes designed to improve food security. A longer version of the article was posted online at Al Jazeera.

The issues raised both articles were debated at the second of three public debates on Global Food Security organised by members of Cambridge's Strategic Initiative on Global Food Security. The final debate on food distribution and waste will take place in King's Place London on April 8th.

Dr Iris Möller calls for new priorities in coastal management policy

Dr Iris Möller calls for new priorities in coastal management policy

Dr Iris Möller calls for new priorities in coastal management policy in the October issue of Public Service Review.

The Magic of Mud

The Magic of Mud

Cambridge coastal scientists are heading to the unlikely locations of Essex and Morecambe Bay to prove that coastal salt marshes and mud flats protect from storms.

The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) of the Department of Geography in Cambridge has been part of a large team of coastal specialists carrying out a detailed investigation into the benefits humans derive from our muddy coast. From the storage of greenhouse gases, to the benefit as a natural buffer between stormy seas and the people that live near them, the CBESS project aims to discover the true value of this coastal wilderness.

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Reducing deforestation in the Amazon

Reducing deforestation in the Amazon

A Conservation Leadership alumnus, Francisco Oliveira Filho, is heading the efforts of the Brazilian Government to reduce deforestation and land clearance in the Amazon.

His work involves detecting and deterring illegal clearances of forest using helicopters and satellite imagery, and confiscations and arrests, as recently featured in the Guardian newspaper.

"Highest Camp in Antarctica" rediscovered atop active volcano after 100 years

"Highest Camp in Antarctica" rediscovered atop active volcano after 100 years

Precisely one century after members of Captain Scott's Terra Nova Expedition climbed Mount Erebus, Clive Oppenheimer has located their highest campsite, and retraced their ascent of Antarctica's most active volcano.

Subaltern agents of colonialism in Solomon Islands

Subaltern agents of colonialism in Solomon Islands

Tim Bayliss-Smith has published a book with Judy Bennett, Professor of History at University of Otago, New Zealand. The book is entitled An Otago Storeman in Solomon Islands: the Diary of William Crossan, Copra Trader, 1885-86. It is based on a recently discovered manuscript diary kept by a young New Zealander who traded on the violent frontier of early European contact in Island Melanesia.

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International Workshop Examines War Crimes Trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina

International Workshop Examines War Crimes Trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina

An international workshop led by Dr Alex Jeffrey and held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has emphasised the disadvantaged position of victims and witnesses within war crimes trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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QPG joins GSI3D as a Consortium Member

QPG joins GSI3D as a Consortium Member

GSI3D (Geological surveying and investigation in three dimensions) is a methodology and associated software tool for 3D geological modelling which enables quick and intuitive construction of 3D solid models of the subsurface for a wide range of applications. The methodology and software have been developed jointly by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and INSIGHT GmbH and are being applied by the BGS, where they are the modelling tools of choice. They are now available on general release as part of the not–for–profit GSI3D Research Consortium. The QPG, led by Professor Phil Gibbard, has been invited to join the consortium as a full member to assist with the evaluation and development of the three-dimensional mapping of superficial deposits in the British Isles and beyond.

Atlas of the Great Irish Famine wins book award

Atlas of the Great Irish Famine wins book award

The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine (Cork University Press 2012), in which Geography Department member Dr. David Nally has a chapter on the colonial dimensions of the Irish experience, has been awarded the International Education Services Best Irish-published Book of the Year. Through its 50 chapters (including contributions from over 60 scholars from the arts, geography, history, archaeology and folklore studies), The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine seeks to achieve a greater understanding of one of the world's worst subsistence crises. Including 400 images, 200 maps, and over 700 pages of text, The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine has already been reprinted three times since its publication in September 2012.

Cambridge Geography ranked best degree by the Guardian University Guide

Cambridge Geography ranked best degree by the Guardian University Guide

The Guardian University Guide has once again given top place to the Geography Degree at Cambridge for 2013.

Our online course guide has full details on the Geography Degree at Cambridge.

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Kelby Hicks

Kelby Hicks

Members of the Department of Geography have been saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Kelby Hicks, a volcanologist and PhD student in the Department. Our heartfelt sympathies go to his family and friends.

A memorial service was held in St Edmund's College chapel on Friday 26 April at 1.30pm.

Snow Lab

Snow Lab

Snow Lab is a scientific project to study snow, which needs lots of volunteers to help take measurements. It is being run by Dr Gareth Rees, who is based at the Scott Polar Research Institute. At present, Snow Lab is only looking for volunteers from schools in Cambridgeshire although in future we hope to run it for the whole of the UK. So if you are at a school in Cambridgeshire, and there's snow on the ground (or might be), and you think you might like to get involved, please have a look at the Snow Lab website.

MPhil courses

MPhil courses

The Department offers a range of MPhil courses, including our newest MPhil, MPhil in Conservation Leadership. The full list of MPhils we offer are: