Our invited response requests that the Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies statement explicitly acknowledge subject overlap with geography.
Response submitted 2014
This response is on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers), the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography. In formulating our response, we consulted heads of geography departments and members of the group drafting the QAA benchmark statement for geography. This response comes with the support of the chair of that group, Professor David Thomas, also Vice President for Research and Higher Education of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).
We note the overlap with subject knowledge expected in physical geography for some of the topics listed under subject knowledge for EEE degree programmes. This particularly, but not exclusively, applies to environmental science (see listing below).
We request the EEE statement explicitly acknowledges this significant overlap and suggest that the revised geography statement does the same; that is, both statements mutually recognise the overlap, while at the same time having sufficient difference in other areas of their programmes to make them identifiably distinct.
We also note overlap in the JACS codes listed for programmes for which the E3 benchmark statement applies and those under which geography degree programmes are offered. This is confusing and we request this be taken up with HESA to resolve this and ensure greater clarity in codes and content.
The areas of overlap we identify; these are characteristics also of geography (largely but not exclusively physical geography).
Section 1.3 of the E3 document
a focus on understanding Earth systems in order to learn from the past, understand the present and influence the future
an emphasis on practical (especially field-based) investigation
multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches
working across a range of spatial and temporal scales
the development of skills in observation and analysis to support decision making in the light of uncertainty
an appreciation of societal contribution and context
the development of professional skills for employability
tuition based on holistic, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches
the integration of fieldwork, experimental and theoretical investigations underpinning the learning experience
quantitative and qualitative approaches to acquiring and interpreting data
examination of the implications of sustainability and sustainable development
The cycling of matter and the flows of energy into the Earth's surface, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and the biosphere
The study of the structure, the composition and the materials of the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the cryosphere and the biosphere, and the processes operating within and between them
Surveying and measurement both in the field and laboratory, and using quantitative and instrumental techniques
The use of past climates to understand climate change
Geohazards (for example, flooding, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides) and their impact on society and the environment
Geographic information systems and remote sensing applications
Past climates to understand climate change and the impact on the environment and society
Geohazards (for example, flooding, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides)
A systems approach to study of the complexity and interconnections of the Earth's systems and processes
The scientific study of physical, chemical, biological and anthropogenic processes operating on ecosystems
Major environmental processes on scales from global to organismal
The importance of timescale, from geological to the short term, on the impacts of natural and human-induced activities on the ecosystem
The spatial scale, from global to local, of human impacts on the environment and responses to environmental change
The nature, organisation, complexity, sustainability and interconnections of humans and the ecosystems
A scientific and interdisciplinary approach to identify, understand and manage the Earth's processes and the ecosystem
The principles of energy consumption, resource extraction and waste disposal arising from the fulfilment of human needs
Monitor, model and manage natural and human-induced environmental changes and behaviour
The principles of sustainability and the use of sustainable approach to manage the natural cycles
The role of institutions, organisations and other stakeholders in managing and regulating the human impact on the environment
Risks presented by a changing environment
The use of scientific and technological information and tools to inform decision-making processes and environmental management
A holistic approach to resolve a broad spectrum of environmental issues and enhance environmental performance
Air, land and water pollution
Demand for, and consequences of, energy production and use
Demand for, and consequences of, water resource utilisation
Food and water supply, demand and scarcity
Geographic information systems
Global conventions and treaties
Human adaptation to climate change
Population growth and dynamics
Risk assessment and management
Role of institutions in regulation and management of the environment
Social equity and social justice
Stakeholders in environmental decision making
Sustainability and sustainable development
The cycling of matter and the flows of energy into and within the Earth's systems and their role in supporting life
The nature, organisation, complexity, sustainability and interconnections of human systems
The history and current evidence of natural and human-induced environmental change
The consequences for the environment of energy consumption, resource extraction and waste disposal arising from the fulfilment of human needs
The sociological, political and economic implications of human interactions with the environment
The relationship between the environment and human cultures and values
The use of scientific and technological information to inform decision-making processes and environmental management
The options for remediation of environmental impacts available to human society
The role of institutions, organisations and other stakeholders in managing and regulating human interaction with the environment
The concepts and applications of sustainability and sustainable development
The importance of timescale, from geological to the short term, in considering the environmental impact of human activity
Interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary context: the contribution of the natural sciences, social sciences, technology, philosophy and ethics to the identification, understanding and, where appropriate, resolution of environmental issues and concerns
food supply, demand and scarcity
environmental limits to economic or population growth
demand for, and consequences of, water resource utilisation
demand for, and consequences of, energy production and use
air, land and water pollution
human adaptation to climate change
global conventions and treaties
environmental policy formulation
stakeholders in environmental decision making
sustainability and sustainable development
approaches to, and limitations of, environmental management systems
role of institutions in regulation and management of the environment
conflict and cooperation in environmental decision making
valuation of the environment
environmental legislation and regulations
business and the environment
social equity and social justice
Our response highlights the need to recognise and accommodate interdisciplinarity, and need for continuity from REF 2014.
Our response to the green paper on industrial strategy pays particular attention to the role of social sciences in developing skills, and the need for a geographical/spatial basis to regional development planning.
Our response welcomes a clearer progression in content and framework from Key Stage 1 - 3 to GCSE. We also suggest formalising requirements for quantitative skills in geography, and the use of short annual fieldwork returns.
We argue that that fieldwork should remain a compulsory part of a statutory geography curriculum and highlight the Society's activities in support of fieldwork.
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