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Tales from Canberra. Richard.Baker@anu.edu.au http://sres-people.anu.edu.au/richard_baker/ Or Google Richard Baker ANU Course resources of all courses mentioned are on this public webpage. Conclusions. We need to get organised like the historians have

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tales from canberra

Tales from Canberra



Or Google Richard Baker ANU

Course resources of all courses mentioned are on this public webpage

  • We need to get organised like the historians have
  • Crucial we do something about the position of Geography in our schools
  • Opportunities for a more applied geography around the key issue of sustainability
  • Opportunities for us in the global push for open courseware (MIT model)
  • Take advantage of our greatest advocates - our students
    • Back in their schools
    • To build links within our universities
    • Maintain links with them once they are out in the workforce
geography in schools in the act
Geography in schools in the ACT
  • Numbers doing it in their last two years at school have collapsed over last 20 years
  • SOSE problems in years 7-10
  • Year 11-12 Geography now nearly entirely in a couple of private schools
  • About half of our first year class coming from a couple of private schools, most of the rest have done no senior geography at school
  • Means we need to teach first years with assumption they have no prior knowledge of the discipline
where are our future high school geography teachers going to come from
Where are our future high school geography teachers going to come from?
  • Training of high school geography teachers in ACT is at the University of Canberra through their social science area. Average mix of interest of those starting Dip Eds each year
    • 15 History
    • 10 Sociology
    • 8 Business studies
    • 3 Religious studies
    • 2 Geography

Source - Dr Janet Smith Discipline Head, School of Education and Community Studies, University of Canberra

geography at anu
Geography at ANU
  • In lots of different places - IAG in Brisbane last year papers from 6 different areas of ANU - CCR, CRES, CAEPR, Human Geography, RMAP,SRES
  • Small undergraduate teaching area administratively separate from a number of different groupings in research schools that include geographers
  • (undergraduate) Geography Dept from mid 70s to 1990 was in the Arts Faculty and had 7-8 academic staff that offered majors in physical and human geography
  • 1990 moved to the Science Faculty and merged with Human Science Program (staff of 2) to get back to 7 staff
  • 2002 merged with slightly larger Forestry Dept to become School of Resources, Environment and Society (SRES) - smaller number of Geography staff teaching bulk of undergraduates - school focus on sustainability issues, most departing staff not replaced
  • 2007 SRES merges with Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies to become Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • 3 academics out of 35 academics in Fenner call themselves geographers
  • Our first year first semester class (Resources, Environment and Society: Geography of Sustainability) numbers up 50% this year after “Geography of sustainability” added to name and getting last years students to go back into schools in September lecture break but when school as still on to talk in their former schools

1st year ANU field trip

we can do more to sell geography as the glue that can hold degrees together
We can do more to sell Geography as the “glue” that can hold degrees together
  • Students in my 1st year course this year had 32 different degree structures
  • My 2006 VN field course had anthropology, development studies, law, business, and Asian studies students
  • My 3rd year environmental policy and planning course with an even wider range
  • New business and engineering connections emerging

2006 2nd year ANU Viet Nam field trip

our students are great advocates for geography
Our students are great advocates for Geography
  • Back in their schools - especially if there is no senior geography
  • In other degrees and courses in our universities - International Society for the Scholarship of teaching and learning eg - Sydney Uni first year Biology using GIS in research project involving all 1000 students
  • Use our graduates in our teaching - eg panel on getting a job in Environmental policy and planning
need to get the message out that studying geography can lead to a wide range of jobs
Need to get the message out that studying Geography can lead to a wide range of jobs
  • Google “Richard Baker ANU” if you want to see the range of jobs 164 of these former students are now working in
these jobs include
These jobs include
  • Environmental audit officers (in private and pubic sector) 7
  • Community Env organisations 7
  • Environmental consultants 11
  • Government Overseas 13
  • O/S Development jobs 15
  • Environmental NGOs 20
  • State Government 29
  • Federal Public Service 39
students not aware of jobs geographers do
Students not aware of jobs Geographers do
  • Q - Before starting university, how aware were you of Geography related positions as a career path?
  • A - I have always wanted to do geography but was never really certain on what career paths were available. My initial thoughts were that it was based around GIS and some planning type roles. My initial career choice was town planning however once into the course it opened my awareness of career paths in geography.
  • Former student now Manager, Extension and Grower Programs Grains Research and Development Corporation
students are aware of the need to connect their geography studies to other courses
Students are aware of the need to connect their geography studies to other courses
  • I think geography is a wonderful degree for anyone interested in working on environmental and resource issues in any walk of life and in any career path. However, as it is a generalist degree (in most instances) I would encourage others (as I did) to combine it with another technical discipline (economics, law, engineering, forestry, geology) etc…. so that the broad perspective can be applied to specific areas and problems. The combined degree structure at ANU is perfect for this.
  • Former student just finishing a PhD in environmental economics after a 5 year stint as federal public servant
What benefits or challenges has your Geography education resulted in, in terms of your career planning and progression?
  • Answer from 1997 graduate who has worked in
    • Development of Plans of Managing Urban Parks
    • Greenhouse Policy Officer
    • Strategic Land Use and Transport Planning (The Canberra Spatial Plan)
    • Environmental Impact Assessment (ACT and NSW)
    • Natural Resource Management
    • SnowyRiver Recovery Coordinator

My 3rd year ANU Murray-Darling field trip

a role for the iag
A role for the IAG
  • I value the generalist skills gained through the geography degree ... I think that it is the responsibility of geography graduates to claim their profession- I will always call myself a geographer rather than a planner even though that is the field I have worked in the most. I think it would be really beneficial if there was some sort of professional organisation for practicing geographers, not just the Institute of Australian Geographers which promotes the study of geography and from what I can tell is an academically focussed organisation. A professional organisation would assist in better recognition of geographers in the wide range of areas in which they practice, not just GIS.
thank you
Thank you

Please contact me if you have any questions or have any problems accessing the web resources I have mentioned



Or Google Richard Baker ANU - Course resources of all courses mentioned are on this public webpage

position statement on geographical education in australian schools
Position Statement on Geographical Education in Australian Schools
  • Up to and including Year 8, the study of geography should be compulsory and taught in a structured and sequenced manner.
  • From Years 9 to 12, geography should be a stand-alone subject, building on the learning from Prep to Year 8. In Years 9 and 10 geography should be part of the core curriculum.
  • In secondary schools it is essential that geography be taught by qualified geography teachers. The training of all primary school teachers should include the study of geography.

Why is the study of geography essential?Geographical education is essential to the development of all young people, and to the economic, environmental and cultural future of Australia, because geography:

  • builds in students a sense of our national identity, and of Australia’s place in the world
  • is concerned with current and future challenges such as climate change, water and land management, and ageing populations
  • has strong vocational relevance
  • engages students with its real world content and its active learning styles