Geography Takes Gold: The RGS-IBG Honours the Inspirational Geographers of 2010

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The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) president Michael Palin presented this year's Royal Medals and Awards in celebration of geographers who research, teach, work and, most importantly, inspire in the field of geography. Professor Iain Stewart, Jack Dangermond and Frans Lanting were among those honoured in an evening of celebration at the Society's headquarters, Lowther Lodge, in London. From championing the versatility of GIS to determining the extent of the impact of climate change, the contributions to geography by this year's award winners was as high as ever.

A total of 16 people were recognised for their achievements in geographical research, fieldwork, photography, teaching, and taking the subject to a wider public audience. Professor Iain Stewart of the University of Plymouth, who appeared most recently in the BBC series How Earth Made Us, received the Ness Award. Renowned for his sense of adventure, unique style of presentation and in-depth knowledge, Stewart has brought the science of geography into the living rooms of millions.

Also included in the honours were two geography teachers who stepped forward to accept the Ordnance Survey Awards for excellence in teaching geography at secondary level. Adrian Taylor, head of geography at St Mary's RC High School, Chesterfield, and Helen Young, a geography teacher at the Friary School, Lichfield, have inspired young geographers of the future with their innovative teaching methods and infectious enthusiasm for the subject.

Taylor uses local experts to bring geography to life for his students. In one community project, he called on a local magistrate to help deliver citizenship lessons through the subject. Other recent projects have seen the Environment Agency, Hull City Council and Durham University working with students on a wide range of topics, from urban regeneration to coastal management.

Young's website, www.geographygeek.co.uk, provides free resources for hundreds of geography teachers, including videos, games, one-off lesson plans and fieldwork ideas. She monitors the most popular pages so that she can keep developing the most in-demand resources, and sees the website as not only an opportunity to share ideas, but also a way of getting to know fellow geography teachers.

'I spend hours creating my own teaching materials, and I thought it seemed sensible to share them with other teachers,' said Young. 'I find working on the website hugely satisfying as I know that my resources are getting more use and that I'm making a lot of people's lives easier. It has also allowed me regular contact with the geographical community.'

The Society's two Royal Medals, approved each year by Her Majesty the Queen, are among the world's highest honours for the development and promotion of geography. Professor Diana Liverman, currently codirector of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, received the Founder's Medal in recognition of her outstanding contribution to understanding how people react and respond to climate change. Jack Dangermond, founder and president of Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), received the Patron's Medal for his extensive work promoting geographical science and his role as a driving force in the development of the geographical information system industry. …

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