Memorandum submitted by the Royal Geographical
Society (with the Institute of British Geographers (IBG))
1.1 The Royal Geographical Society (with
IBG) is the learned society and professional body for the science
of geography and geographers. It is a charity and thus exists
to support the public. Almost all its activities are available
to the public.
1.2 The Society was established in 1830
for "the advancement of geographical science". The Society
has six strategic aims;
stimulate and support geographical
research in the UK and overseas;
promote and strengthen the value
of geography in formal education and life long learning;
acquire, hold and disseminate geographical
encourage a wider public interest,
understanding and enjoyment of geography;
advise governments and other agencies
on geographical issues;
ensure the continuing vigour of the
Society and its Fellowship.
1.3 Geography is the integrated study of
the earth's landscapes, environments and societies, set within
the context of places and regions. It provides the much-needed
capacity to understand the interactions between society and environment.
1.4 The fourth and fifth strategic aims
include the communication of geographical science to the public
and the provision of geographical advice to government.
1.5 In general, the Society supports over
20 research groups at the forefront of generating new knowledge;
promotes geography within the National Curriculum; produces scholarly
publications; provides training, including continuing professional
development; offers a professional "chartered status"
recognition; empowers scholars, young people and teachers through
grant giving; presents a "public understanding" national
lecture series; provides fora for discussion, and dissemination
via its conference programmes and briefing papers; has a significant
advisory role; and provides information through its large map
collection, library, and picture library.
1.6 The Royal Geographical Society (with
IBG) achieves this with no financial support from government.
The turnover of approximately £3,000,000 required to support
its core charitable activities is raised each year from a combination
of sources. These include members' subscriptions, enterprise activities,
corporate support, publishing and conference income, and small
returns on investments.
1.7 The Society is highly active and has
a strategy for further development. It would greatly welcome a
more equitable distribution of government funds to learned societies,
recognising the public and government benefit that comes from
the learned societies as a whole rather than the benefits that
accrue from just one or two of them.
1.8 In relation to providing scientific
advice and in communicating science to the public, the Society
delivered the following activities in the year 2001:
1.8.1 Organised over 160 events in London
and the regions, including:
lectures directly communicating to
conferences for dissemination and
discussion of developments in geography and geographical issues
relevant to policy; and
continuing professional development
activities to improve the ability of teachers to disseminate up
to date information more effectively.
1.8.2 Responsed to 29 calls for evidence
and consultations on matters of education and research. Most consultations
involved providing advice to various Government departments and
agencies, including the Department for Education and Skills, Quality
Assurance Agency, Teacher Training Agency, Becta, Qualifications
and Curriculum Authority, ESRC, NERC, English Nature, Office of
Science & Technology, and the Institute of Learning &
1.8.3 Facilitated the annual geographers'
conference, part of which communicated geographical research and
issues to the public, producing 48 stories in the national press
in four days, and a wide range of other media output including
radio and television.
1.8.4 Held a series of key evening discussions
bringing together senior players in policy, NGOs, government,
research and business and industry as part of the Society's "Environment
and Society Forum". This contributes insight to social, economic
and environmental challenges facing Britain and the world, and
facilitates dialogue and networking. Several government departments
and agencies have been closely involved in these events, including
DfES, DfID, DLTR, and QCA. Summary statements are widely distributed
after the event. Recent topics (2000-01) have included flooding,
air transport, rural land use, regenerating Britain's coalfields,
managing water resources, tourism and sustainable waste management.
1.8.5 The Society's extensive map resources,
originally opened to the public by means of government funding
in 1859, assisted the Defence Geographical Information Agency
and the US Corps of Engineers on matters relating to Afghanistan,
in addition to other "regular" enquiries from the Foreign
Office. Sadly this annual grant of £54,000, that was designed
primarily to provide access for the general public to these scientific
resources and information, was withdrawn in the year 2000. The
library, manuscript and picture resources were also widely used
in scientific publishing.
1.8.6 Established funding for three major
projects to improve communication of information to the public.
This includes an internet information and resources project "Geography
in the news" (£150,000); a Lottery Funded project to
"Unlock the Society's Archives" by improving public
access on site and on the internet (£6.7 million), and refurbishing
the Society's lecture theatre (£1.7 million).
1.8.7 The Society acted as the UK national
body for the International Geographical Union, having taken over
this responsibility from the Royal Society in the year 2000.