# Professor of Geography vacancy
17th November, 2014
The Board of Electors to the Professorship of Geography (1993) invite applications for this Professorship, to take up appointment as soon as possible. Preference will be given to persons whose work is connected with Physical Geography. Candidates will have an outstanding research record of international stature in Physical Geography and the vision, leadership, experience and enthusiasm to build on current strengths in maintaining and developing a leading research presence.
# Does it help conservation to put a price on nature?
13th November, 2014
Putting a price on the services which a particular ecosystem provides may encourage the adoption of greener policies, but it may come at the price of biodiversity conservation. Writing in the journal Science, Professor Bill Adams of the Department argues that assigning a quantitative value to nature does not automatically lead to the conservation of biodiversity, and may in fact contribute to species loss and conflict.
# UCCRI student reports from Future Earth meeting
6th November, 2014
Following a global call for participants, Jasper Montana, a PhD student in the Department and the Conservation Research Institute was selected to attend the DIVERSITAS celebrations event in Spain last month. DIVERSITAS is an international programme of biodiversity science, established to address the complex questions posed by major environmental changes facing the planet. This event marked the closure of DIVERSITAS and its transition into the new Future Earth initiative.
Jasper's research focuses on the governance of biodiversity and, in particular, looks at the role of experts, institutions and policy support tools in securing the impact of biodiversity science. His reflection on the event and his interview with one of the participants on the legacy of DIVERSITAS are now both available on the Future Earth blog.
# The Ethnographic Experiment
4th November, 2014
On 4th November Tim Bayliss-Smith helped to organise the launch in St John's College of a recently published book entitled The Ethnographic Experiment: A. M. Hocart and W.H.R. Rivers in Island Melanesia, edited by Edvard Hviding and Cato Berg (Berghahn, Oxford, 2014). The book examines an expedition to Solomon Islands in 1908 led by William Rivers, who was a Cambridge psychologist, social anthropologist and, later on, a pioneer of psychoanalysis. Accompanying Rivers were two younger ethnologists, Arthur Hocart and Gerald Wheeler.
Tim and the other authors of this book argue that the three expedition's members were the true pioneers of the ethnographic methods that, following Bronislaw Malinowski (1922), became standard fieldwork practice for social anthropology. Their achievements have been overlooked because their career paths diverged and they never managed to fully publish their results, and because Rivers in particular was absorbed by other interests before his sudden death in 1922. In the First World War he helped to pioneer new therapeutic methods for soldiers suffering from 'shell-shock' involving neo-Freudian psychoanalysis. After 1919, when he returned to St John's College, he was diverted into theories of cultural diffusion that are now discredited, but popular at the time especially among German geographers and anthropologists. He also wrote about 'the psychological factor' in the depopulation of the Pacific islands, neglecting the 'germs' factor (sexually transmitted infections in particular) within the 'guns, germs and steel' triad of colonialism's negative impacts. As a result, 'the ethnographic experiment' of 1908 has never received its full recognition.
An article about the book in The Guardian has also been published.
# Connecting health research and disaster research: global health, disaster risk reduction and disaster response
27th October, 2014
The Environmental Systems and Processes Research Group is delighted to welcome Dr Ilan Kelman to the Department on Tuesday, 28th October. Dr Kelman, Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London, will talk on 'Connecting health research and disaster research: global health, disaster risk reduction and disaster response' in the Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography at 1pm.
# Dr David Turnbull workshop on nation state and sovereignty
21st October, 2014
The Nature, Cultures, Knowledges research group is delighted to host Dr David Turnbull for an early career workshop at the Geography Department on Wednesday, October 22nd, 11-12.30pm. The title of the workshop is "The Nation State and Sovereignty: Renarrations, Reterritorialisations, and Keeping the Commons Alive: Bringing Performativity, Connectivity, Movement and Embodied Cognition to the Task".
Dr Turnbull is a Senior Research Fellow at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab at Melbourne University and will be known to many people for his thought-provoking writings on topics as varied as postcolonialism; indigenous mapping; narrative traditions of space; and performativity. The workshop will be attended by a group of early career researchers encompassing postgraduates and postdoctoral students.
# Festival of Ideas 2014
16th October, 2014
The Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2014 is taking place between Monday 20th October and Sunday 2th November. Members of the Department of Geography will be taking part in a number of talks.
# Anthropocene: is this the new epoch of humans?
16th October, 2014
Ian Sample, the Guardian science editor discusses the possible definition of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, as geologists, climate scientists, ecologists – and a lawyer – gather in Berlin for talks on whether to rename age of human life. While acknowledging humanity's terrifying impact on the Earth's natural systems, Professor Phil Gibbard of the Department of Geography questions the necessity of this definition.
# Scott Polar Research Institute awarded £500,000 by Heritage Lottery Fund
8th October, 2014
The Scott Polar Research Institute, part of the Department of Geography, has been awarded £500,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Collecting Cultures funding programme. This money has been awarded for By Endurance We Conquer: the Shackleton Project, which will unite the Scott Polar Research Institute's Archive, Museum, Library and Picture Library in a targeted purchasing strategy designed to develop its collection of material relating to Sir Ernest Shackleton.
# Salt marsh plants key to reducing coastal erosion and flooding
7th October, 2014
The effectiveness of salt marshes – wetlands which are flooded and drained by tides – in protecting coastal areas in times of severe weather has been quantified in a study led by researchers from the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.
In the largest laboratory experiment ever constructed to investigate this phenomenon, the researchers have shown that over a distance of 40 metres, the salt marsh reduced the height of large waves in deep water by 18%, making them an effective tool for reducing the risk of coastal erosion and flooding. Sixty percent of this reduction is due to the presence of marsh plants alone. The results are published in the journal Nature Geoscience.