Find inspiration in our catalogue of lectures from world-renowned speakers. Most of our Monday night lectures are available for members to watch, as well as our free-to-access panel discussions and Microlectures.
At a moment when global cooperation is under threat, this lecture examines the history of internationalism, with particular reference to the international role of RGS-IBG.
10 December 2018
Award-winning photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have recorded African sacred ceremonies for the past 40 years. In words and images, they will share their experiences behind the making of their new magnum opus, African Twilight.
3 December 2018
Linden considers whether the Sustainable Development Goals offer a realistic roadmap for the future of our planet. Are they a unifying call or a random wish list?
26 November 2018
Fiona reflects on why beauty matters, yet barely features in public debate and policy. She will argue that beauty is needed to moderate the increasingly commercial, economistic narrative that prevails today.
19 November 2018
Paul will examine developments in flood risk modelling, which has long been dominated by engineers and mathematicians, and show how Geographers and their technologies have challenged and disrupted traditional approaches to understanding floods.
12 November 2018
A career of professional diving in the world's wildest, remote, challenging and pristine places gives Paul a unique perspective of our seas. Can we be more optimistic about the future health of our Oceans?
5 November 2018
This illustrated lecture explores beauty and ruin in the old caravansary towns of the Thar Desert in Shekhawati, and highlights conservation efforts aimed at preserving the region’s fading visual culture.
29 October 2018
A team of novice polar explorers from across Europe and the Middle East ski across the rapidly dwindling sea ice of the Arctic Ocean in this tale of faith, hope and cultural insight.
22 October 2018
Deborah explores how 1886 RGS Instructor in Photography, John Thompson, applied images to the science of geography, to guide and influence a new generation of travellers.
15 October 2018
After a decade of work in West Papua, BBC presenter and journalist Will Millard was diagnosed with PTSD. This talk details both his work and trauma, and describes how a love for water has helped him recover.
8 October 2018
Migrants on the margins is the Society's collaborative field research project, focusing on the vulnerability and opportunities of migrants in some of the world’s most pressured cities. Members of the research team outline some of their findings so far.
1 October 2018
Leon takes us on a 1,000-mile walk from Jerusalem to Mount Sinai, exploring the culture, history and faith in one of the most complex and compelling places on earth.
14 May 2018
Charlie talks about efforts to save Timbuktu's precious manuscripts from al-Qaeda in 2012-13, and examines the powerful myths that drew early European explorers there.
23 April 2018
An illustrated talk that weaves together stories of the people, the landscapes and the issues facing Mongolia. Karina draws on her 16 years' experience of exploring and working in Mongolia.
9 April 2018
In her last lecture as Director, Rita draws on her physical geography background and experience of leading the Society to explore the place of the discipline in a rapidly changing world at home and abroad.
26 March 2018
Rod Downie shares his experience in developing innovative solutions to better understand and conserve polar bears in the rapidly changing Arctic.
19 March 2018
Faced with doubts and depression, Charlie took the ‘black dog’ for a walk through America.
15 March 2018
With a cinema in her pack, Emma travels to remote communities in the mountains, sharing stories at nomadic camps and monasteries.
Undeterred by local conflict and brutal terrain, Chaz’s source to sea walk along the wildest river was far from easy.
The first woman to complete this journey, Elspeth ran the spine of Scotland, surrounded by bogs, rain and beauty.
The steppe is changing and rural nomads are moving to the cities. Hattie spent two months finding out why.
Val's solo through-hike of the Transcaucasian Trail turned into an unexpectedly emotional journey, featuring lone shepherds, hospitable families, and homemade vodka.
Markus tackles the challenges posed by one of the world's most written about and most misunderstood countries – from nuclear threat, to refugees and the media frenzy.
12 March 2018
The remarkable growth of Chinese cities in the last 30 years is the biggest, and possibly most rapid, process of urbanisation the world has ever seen. It has transformed China, its environment and people.
5 March 2018
In 2014 Ben led the longest ever polar journey on foot, completing the South Pole return that defeated Scott and Shackleton. In 2017 he attempted the first solo, unsupported and unassisted crossing of Antarctica.
26 February 2018
Levison talks about his latest expeditions, his early travels and his motivation. In considering the age old question of why people explore, he explains what draws him to the wilderness.
12 February 2018
Devastating hurricanes, forest fires, flash floods. Vulnerable communities across the world have succumbed to all of these and more in recent months. Increasingly they are asking the question, "Is this linked to climate change?"
29 January 2018
Declining retail poses fundamental questions to the future of places where we live, work and socialise. How have these places been managed so far - and how can geographers envisage brighter futures for their development?
24 January 2018
Dr Barbara Bond investigates MI9’s wartime escape and evasion mapping programme including how maps were smuggled to prisoners and how they helped orchestrate some of the most famous escapes in history.
22 January 2018
With basic geographic data lacking in many low income countries, Andy explores how cell phone and satellite technologies offer new ways to help achieve and monitor the Sustainable Development Goals.
15 January 2018
Patrick talks about his journey from sizeable small islands to ever tinier islets in search of the special quality of island life. Do small islands have big lessons for us on the mainland?
8 January 2018
Straightforward honesty is rarely the default setting for political and business communication; Evan looks at the effect this has on the conduct of business and politics generally, and on the rise of populism in particular.
30 November 2017
A vibrant portrait of the “original affluent society”--the Bushmen of southern Africa--by the anthropologist who has spent much of the last twenty-five years documenting their encounter with modernity.
13 November 2017
Each year more than 300,000 people are reported as missing in the UK. Hester considers where missing people go, their experiences, and the complexities of what happens after they return.
30 October 2017
Professor Matthew Goodwin examines the drivers of the vote for Brexit, what it tells us about public opinion and party politics in Britain and what might happen next.
16 October 2017
BAFTA award winner Bruce talks about his four-year journey among indigenous peoples across the world – from Borneo to India and the Amazon - exploring their wisdom and inner feeling of connections to nature.
2 October 2017
Introducing the Society's newly digitised film collection, and a deeper look at R.A. Bagnold's 1932 expedition – the first east-west crossing of the Libyan Desert as captured on film.
25 September 2017
Kevin talks about the issue of slavery in the 21st century, focusing not only on human rights violations, but the link between slavery, environmental destruction and climate change.
22 May 2017
David and Adrian examine contemporary changes in these fascinating and enormous features, drawing on the latest evidence from the Larsen Ice Shelf, and exploring both the causes and implications of ice shelf decay.
15 May 2017
Frank discusses the nature of and trends in London's air quality in recent years, the impact of air quality on health and how public understanding of the issue is changing.
8 May 2017
Kerstin talks of her project to understand more about, and to protect, these extraordinary and beautiful marine creatures off the coast of Peru; working with local communities and supported by a Rolex Award for Enterprise.
24 April 2017
Anthony follows young T.E. Lawrence on the series of extraordinary journeys across Europe and the Middle East that transformed him from the bright but troubled second son of an Oxford-based family into Lawrence of Arabia.
10 April 2017
Jenny discovered the remarkable illustrated journals of Thomas Machell in the British Library. She will interweave their adventures as she seeks this forgotten explorer in India's Raj, the South China Sea, Polynesia and Arabia.
27 March 2017
To outsiders, Sri Lanka's civil war (1983-2009) remains perplexing. Award-winning author John describes a journey that begins with Tooting's 8,000 refugees, and ends on the battlefields of Mullaitivu. There's horror here, beauty and hope.
20 March 2017
Space and time on Earth are regulated by the prime (Greenwich) meridian, 0'. Before the 1880s more than 25 prime meridians were in use, resulting in problems of global measurement that engaged geographers, astronomers and navigators.
13 March 2017
Over three decades, tiger populations in the Western Ghats have recovered to be the largest in the world. Ullas explains the tiger conservation strategy, blending science with social interventions.
6 March 2017
The Aztec city Tenochtitlán was the largest and best-run on Earth. In Mexico John discovered that Hernán Cortés conquered not by guns and horses, but language, diplomacy, obsidian and a little steel.
27 February 2017
James Raffan circumnavigated the Arctic Circle to put a human face on climate change. His rare and insightful story touches the Earth's last wild places revealing the breadth of human adaptation and ingenuity.
20 February 2017
Seeking adventure and stories to inspire young people, Sarah set out from London in 2011 to circle the northern hemisphere – travelling 25,000 miles – using a rowing boat, a bike and a kayak.
13 February 2017
The most distinguished foreign correspondent of our time talks through a fascinating history of what it is to risk life and limb to bring home news of the troubled world beyond our shores.
6 February 2017
Rory recounts the journey with his father through the mountains and valleys, across Hadrian's Wall and housing estates to uncover the "forgotten land" where England meets Scotland, re-evaluating history, geography and life as they go.
23 January 2017
This talk explores what the future holds for satellite applications and the opportunities it presents to improve lives everywhere - a new role for space technology in the 21st century.
9 January 2017
From shadowy mangroves to the deep oceans, Helen will chart the course of seashells through history. She will explore their use as currency to their impact on modern-day technologies.
12 December 2016
In January 2016 the Coxless Crew completed their double world record-setting Pacific Ocean row. The crew will talk about the challenges they faced and share their experiences of this epic journey.
21 November 2016
The UK Overseas Territories include vast wilderness areas across three oceans. Mark will explore these, describing transformative approaches to conservation being tested in the British Indian Ocean Territory and elsewhere.
31 October 2016
Each region of the world faces different population challenges – reducing fertility, employing a ‘bulge’ of young people or managing ageing populations. Sarah explores these and the global implications for the future.
24 October 2016
David will explore the future prospects of younger people, and the state, looking at the long-term demographic, economic and political drivers of differences between the generations – one of the key issues of our time.
Drawing on a lifetime exploring British landscapes, Nicholas will describe how we have modified our habitat since the tundra thawed 12,000 years ago and why we should value our island story.
10 October 2016
There's too much plastic in our oceans, much of it as microscopic particles. Where does it come from? Where does it do most harm? And what can we do about it?
3 October 2016
Featuring some beautiful imagery, Melanie takes us on a scientific journey into Arctic lands to learn about the spectacular aurora.
26 September 2016
Geography is the discipline of our future. Humanity has become a geological superpower. Acknowledging and embracing this new idea will allow us to protect Earth's environment and its peoples.
25 April 2016
Tristan explores how to spot the clues, signs and patterns in water; from puddles to lakes and from streams to oceans, using examples from across the world.
11 April 2016
This illustrated assessment of Britain's impact on the world marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt, one of the UK's most influential early geographers and a historian of exploration.
4 April 2016
An ancient eternal fuel, the highest snow passes on Earth, and the last of the great Himalayan muleteers – told by the only known westerner to travel the entire Tea Horse Road by foot.
21 March 2016
The experiences of a two-month crossing of Southern India: heat stroke, leopards, mountains, mosquitos, sleeping rough, and why it was all completely brilliant.
16 March 2016
Crossing deserts, mountain ranges and the Atlantic on a cargo ship, all in a 30 year-old Renault 4, Matthieu redistributed €25,000 to people actively excluded from the formal financial sector.
Travelling across a country with a 33-letter alphabet and the highest mountain range in Europe has its fair share of obstacles. Grab a glass of chacha and say supra!
James travelled to the Horn of Africa in search of a lighthouse that might not even exist. This is a journey that goes to the heart of why we wish to explore.
Retracing the steps of the 1938 Haig-Thomas British Arctic Expedition, Alec observed how the social and environmental factors affecting the region have changed over the last eight decades.
In 2015 Fearghal climbed, hitched and paddled across the Bolivian Altiplano. Fearghal examines this journey making a passionate case for why experience is essential to understanding the world.
Paddle boarding the length of the Thames, Michelle and Mel tested the water quality, raising awareness about the health of the river and inspiring others to give paddle boarding a go.
Bob explores the significance of the archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa, the current threats and pressures it faces, and the work to document and preserve sites at risk.
7 March 2016
The former British High Commissioner to Australia and Singapore explores the many ways in which geography features in the working of modern diplomacy, illustrated with personal experiences from postings overseas and at the FCO in London.
29 February 2016
Alexander von Humboldt is the great lost scientist. Historian Andrea will talk about how his ideas
revolutionised science and why he is the forgotten father of environmentalism.
15 February 2016
One of the world’s leading high-altitude climbers shares his personal stories of a lifetime of mountaineering, including the Himalayan Triple Crown in 2013, and what drives him to do it.
8 February 2016
Dark, forgotten, golden, hopeless, wild, rising, new… The Director of the Royal African Society examines why every label diminishes Africa.
1 February 2016
For 10 years scientists have warned of the potential for a massive earthquake in Nepal. Was the April 2015 earthquake that event or an indicator of a larger disaster to come?
25 January 2016
An eye-opening tour of a hidden world: wannabe and might-have-been countries that, lacking diplomatic recognition or UN membership, inhabit a realm of shifting borders, idealistic leaders and forgotten peoples.
18 January 2016
In the wake of last month’s critical UN conference in Paris, what are the prospects that the world will tackle climate change? Should we be hopeful – or despairing?
11 January 2016
Shepherd and bestselling author James speaks about farming life in the Lake District fells, why historic farmed landscapes matter and are loved by people, and how they might survive in the future.
14 December 2015
Using expert photographic reportage, over the last decade Nick has followed the lives of the same individuals and families in eight countries, across four continents, to show how they have been affected by the Millennium Development Goals.
2 November 2015
Drawing on personal experiences, Niall describes the challenges and opportunities of biodiversity research where rapid development and illegal activities pose an immediate threat to the conservation of many endangered species.
26 October 2015
Antonia tells the story of her solo exploration of Indochina’s legendary, yet fast-vanishing, Ho Chi Minh Trail, battling inhospitable terrain and multiple breakdowns on a motorcycle.
19 October 2015
An account of the achievements and adventures, in the 1840s, of three self-educated, young British naturalists who became outstanding explorers of the Amazon, the world’s greatest river and ecosystem.
12 October 2015
Caroline explores the presence and diverse experiences of black people in the multicultural city of London, from barmaids to servants, nurses and labourers, through asylum archives, family history and the press.
5 October 2015
Cities in low-income countries are the most dynamic places on earth and will be for decades. What makes people move, how is this changing, and what do they do when they get there?
28 September 2015
Bob Geldof takes the stage to speak about his extraordinary lifetime of humanitarian activities and adventure, from his work in Africa to training for his future travel into space.
18 May 2015
As we become an urban species, how can our cities grow and become more resilient to climate change? Alex looks at the lessons London can learn, and apply, from international cities.
11 May 2015
Researcher and television presenter Nick Barratt explores the 600 square miles of London’s suburbs, throwing new light on the forces that turned a scattering of villages into a global metropolis.
27 April 2015
The Silk Road boasts some of the world’s most spectacular and legendary environments. Christopher Gardner will talk about its stunning flora, embracing areas such as Central Asia, Turkey and China.
20 April 2015
Explorer Levison Wood will be speaking about his nine month expedition walking the length of the Nile through six countries; encountering civil war, close calls with crocodiles and much more.
13 April 2015
Was Siberia just a frozen wasteland, a place of exile, prison and suffering? Janet investigates the settlers over four centuries of Russian expansion, throwing light on the lives of the people of this inhospitable land.
23 March 2015
Born in Iran, Shirin spent most of her childhood trekking with her father; however, her most life-changing journey was to go from being a full-time mum to leading an expedition to climb Iran’s highest peak, the 5,671m high Damavand. This was a journey intent on changing perceptions about modern day Iran, its people and its heritage.
18 March 2015
Last year Rwandans commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. Fergus was in Kigali over this period and attended genocide memorial ceremonies, massacre sites and interviewed a number of survivors. He reflects on Genocide Memorial Week and where Rwanda now finds itself in the modern world.
Anne cycled the northern coastline of Norway with her husband, fellow tandem cyclist David, and their 10 month old son. Hear about her journey; the white sandy beaches of the Vesterålen and Lofoten Islands, the beauty of mountains and fjords, and the pain of a 1,400km ride in the Arctic... with a cot, high chair and nappies!
A journey to the Darién Province to visit ancient stone petroglyphs recorded by the explorer Robert Hyman in 1994. John recounts his stay in an Embera village, at the end of the Sambu River, expressing how he was fortunate enough to discover two new petroglyph sites whilst trekking in the surrounding forest.
From its pristine wilderness and bounty of flora and fauna, to its quaint settlements, Alaska is a source of hope. Daniel shares experiences of its unique and thriving landscape, and its revitalising weather. From the celestial dance of the Aurora Borealis, to cycling into a moose, Alaska will be forever lodged in Daniel's memory.
The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project has been studying the nesting habits of sea turtles for 28 years. Julia spent time with the project in the West Indies not only gaining hands-on experience with the critically endangered species – both nesting and hatching – but she also experienced the rapid development of Hurricane Gonzalo first hand.
Having never kayaked before, Ian set off to hike and paddle Sri Lanka’s longest river from source to sea. From the country’s third highest peak – Totapola Kanda – Ian travelled through tea plantations, ancient city-states, and modern tourist destinations. This journey challenged his ideas of river travel and demonstrated the difficulties of water security for developing nations.
In 2014, Canadian underwater archaeologists located the remains of HMS Erebus, Sir John Franklin’s vessel on his ill-fated 1845 expedition. Ryan Harris will present the discovery and investigation of this compelling shipwreck.
9 March 2015
British swimmer Adam Walker is among a handful of people worldwide, and the only British person, to have completed all seven swims. He shares the trials and triumphs of this extraordinary endurance challenge.
23 February 2015
Wracked by war, famine and Islamic extremism, Somalia has long been a byword for disaster. James, a veteran reporter on Afghanistan, went to find out why – and what is being done to fix it.
16 February 2015
Asian expert John Keay investigates 1947’s partition of British India and explores its legacy of erratic leadership and hostile relationships between the five nations of South Asia.
9 February 2015
Join a science journalist to explore the geology, geography and scenery of Icelandic volcanoes: from a world-changing 18th century eruption, to the latest ‘earth fires’ in 2014.
2 February 2015
Tristram explores how the legacy of the British Empire remains in the lives and structures of the great cities which it shaped, and in cultures, economies and identities changed by interaction and adaptation.
26 January 2015
Peter wrestled with modernity in Mongolia, seeing how old traditions survive in a modern world. The Grand Alpine Tour team travelled the length of the Alps, using new technologies to explore landscape change.
19 January 2015
Historian and polar guide Huw explores the epic first crossing of Antarctica in 1958. Led by Vivian Fuchs and Ed Hillary, this great expedition finally fulfilled Shackleton’s dream.
12 January 2015
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