After the relevance debate: the teaching of social geography
John Eyles, Queen Mary College London
An examination of the recent relevance debate in geography shows that this debate has led to an explicit realisation of the significance of values, the addition of a rigorous political, social and economic dimension to social geography and a recognition of the importance of problem and policy perspectives. Three trends in modern social geography are identified - problem orientations, humanistic perspectives, and structural perspectives - and their impacts on taught courses and individual projects are assessed. Curriculum developments and problems are also discussed. Full incorporation of such schemes into the subject depends not only on published research findings, but also on the values and interests of individual teachers.
Geography and values in higher education: 1
John Huckle, Bedford College of Higher Education
The recent debate on relevance and social responsibility in geography has directed our attention to the nature and limitations of empirical knowledge, and the ethical foundations which underlie our various professional roles. Instability within human ecosystems is the result of a deficient world view which has caused knowledge to become detached from traditional humanistic values. Man's survival now depends upon the adoption of an environmental ethic, formulations of which have much in common with a distinct humanistic tradition in geography. This must be revived if excesses of empiricism are to be controlled and geography is to realise its potential in the field of environmental education.
Biogeographical field study of farmland
Richard Moles, Thomond College of Education
Ecological biogeography, defined here as the ecological study of man-managed communities, is essentially experimental: practical work therefore should play an important role in teaching this specialism. In Britain, lowland agricultural land has attracted little ecological investigation but falls within the scope of geography; characteristics of the farmland habitat combine to make it especially suitable for biogeographical field study. Field work, varying in form from day visits to projects spanning several years, may illustrate many biogeographical concepts introduced in lectures.
Course design in geography: the case of The Open University
Philip Sarre, The Open University
The Open University's new second level-course 'Fundamentals of Human Geography' is used to illustrate the process of designing and developing an integrated course using a team of academics who clearly define its aims and select the most appropriate of the available teaching media for particular aspects of the content. Readers are invited to consider the relevance of Open University experience to their own institutions.
Geography in higher education in the USSR
Dennis Shaw, University of Birmingham
Soviet geography in higher education stems from a solid tradition long pre-dating 1917, but in Soviet times the subject's practical relevance to environmental problems has been especially emphasised. University courses are very specialised, yet in certain respects they are also extraordinarily broad by British standards. Geography graduates usually enter either teaching or scientific/research bodies, to which they are readily suited by their training. The practical emphasis of geographical education, however, occasionally produces certain strains in the discipline.
A self-paced mastery instruction scheme in geography for a first year university course
Michael Fox and Tom Wilkinson, Carleton University Ottawa
The use of a self-paced mastery system of instruction can help to overcome some of the problems resulting from variable educational backgrounds among first-year geography undergraduates. The implementation of such a system at Carleton University is described, at the stages of specification, design and evaluation. The aim of 'mastering' subject material is achieved through a programme taken at the students' own pace and self-assessed. The preliminary results of an evaluation of the system suggest that more students progress to the second year because of it, though there is no significant improvement in the overall performance of second-year students.
After the graduation ceremony: some thoughts on geography graduate careers
Sue Bleasdale, Middlesex Polytechnic
An increase in the level of concern with geography graduate careers is needed. Geographers in higher education should undertake fuller and more detailed analysis of career patterns so that they can give careers advice and provide courses that give students some marketable skills. A brief survey of information currently available on geography graduate careers is followed by an analysis of the career patterns of geography graduates from the universities and a polytechnic. Suggestions are made for data improvement and for immediate action.
Page created 1 December 1997