The Society stands in solidarity with Black communities globally against racism and inequality, and joins the global calls to reaffirm that Black Lives Matter following the shocking and tragic death of George Floyd. We recognise that geography has a long and complicated history in relation to racial oppression, including instances where it has contributed directly. We also recognise that Black geographers are underrepresented in our ranks.
Founded in 1830, the Society’s status as a leading UK-institution emerged from the structures of imperialism and colonialism. Throughout our history, our Fellowship has debated and on occasions challenged prevailing conventions, however change has often been slow. For example, women were only admitted as permanent Fellows in 1913, and the vital contributions of Indigenous and local people to expeditions were often overlooked – the award of the Patron's Medal in 1877 to The Pundit Nain Singh serves as the exception rather than the rule.
Today, the Society is a very different organisation, and over the last two decades we have undertaken a broad programme of work that critically engages with our history, bringing to the fore previously hidden contributions made to geography, and to the Society. We have also put in place programmes to support and enable traditionally underrepresented groups.
However, we need to do more to embed equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of what the Society does both in terms of its own activities and in engaging with the wider geographical community to forge a more socially representative community – across age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and socio-economic background. This will require more than words. It requires evaluating, generating and promoting best practice, and transforming how we work.
We are aware that there is a long way to go and we will continue to work on increasing diversity and representation throughout our activities. As part of this we renew our commitment to listen to, support and champion Black geographers.
Read more about our work to embed equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.
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