Join us

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us
A group of twelve people sit around a table having a discussion.

Ray Y Gildea Jr Award

The Ray Y Gildea Jr Award supports innovation in teaching and learning in higher and secondary education. Grants of up to £1,000 are awarded annually.

About the Award

The Ray Y Gildea Jr Award is the Society’s first endowed award to support innovation in teaching and learning in higher and secondary education. Applications can be made for projects to research, develop and/or pilot innovations in teaching and learning in any field of geography in higher or secondary education. The outcomes of the grant should show direct benefit to students of geography.

Applicants must be currently employed in the higher education (college) sector and/or secondary school level, either in the UK or the USA, actively teaching students.

Deadline: 30 November 

Apply now

All prospective grant applicants are encouraged to read our Advice and Resources pages, which include more information about the grants programme, its conditions, how to apply for a grant and what is expected if your application is successful. Please read this information carefully and send your application, or any enquiries, by email to

Previous recipients

2024: Dr Naomi Holmes (University of York) 'Building inclusivity and accessibility into your fieldwork' 

Fieldwork can pose significant challenges in terms of inclusivity and accessibility, and it is thought that this might contribute to the lack of diversity in geography (particularly post-GCSE). This project will work with the secondary school geography teaching community and those involved in delivering fieldwork for secondary schools to create a set of resources that can be used to support staff to help make fieldwork teaching more inclusive and accessible.


2023: Professor Emma Mawdsley (University of Cambridge) 'Geographies of Hope'

This project will lead an experimental third year undergraduate course on ‘Geographies of Hope’ at Cambridge from October 2023, with the intention to critically and constructively think about multiple and diverse ways in which ‘positive change’ has been achieved, at different scales and in different places (recognising variations in views on what ‘positive change’ might be). The aim is to think through and encourage more empowering approaches to reflection and action for students and faculty. 


2022: Dr Nick Clare (University of Nottingham) 'Student and staff mental health support'

We are in the midst of a mental health crisis, with both students and staff showing increased signs of overlapping conditions such as depression, stress, and anxiety. But while universities are often increasing their amount of mental health support and provision, buy in tends to be low from students and staff. There is thus a need for more research into the types of mental health support that is offered, how these are advertised, and the ways in which they are implemented. In the School of Geography, University of Nottingham (UoN) we have developed a series of bespoke mental health first aid and resilience interventions, in partnership with the R World charity – co-founded by Dr Clare – and the training organisation Tough Cookie, respectively. Funded in part by an alumni grant, these projects were jointly led by all three applicants, and prove highly successful with those who participated in. They were, however, sadly undersubscribed, and so Dr Clare – in his role as Faculty Mental Health Lead – has begun a detailed review of best practice and implementation across Social Sciences at the UoN. This project will complement and extend this faculty-wide research, with a focus on provision across school and departments of geography in UKHE.


2022: Dr Vandana Desai (Royal Holloway, University of London) 'Undergraduate student academic mobility project'

A pilot project to develop a support system for students who come from disadvantaged and vulnerable demographic backgrounds, and who particularly have poor academic performance in their first and second year of undergraduate degree. PhD students will work as mentors on a 1-1 basis with the selected students over the academic terms. The focus of the project is on peer learning, retaining diverse students and generating a pipeline of students from a diverse background in postgraduate study in geography. This project will give PhD students mentoring and teaching experience to enhance their future career prospects. 


2022: Dr Alison Grasmeder (University of Sheffield) 'Innovating racial literacy teaching and learning for schools in PGDE geography'

In response to complaints from PGDE student teachers about racist incidents they experienced in training schools, teacher educators introduced a curriculum development to improve student teachers’ and school-based mentors’ racial literacy. A key element is the critical analysis by student teachers of selected curriculum resources used in their partnership schools. This innovative project aims to investigate geography student teachers’ responses to this task and their experiences of developing alternative anti-racist resources for teaching geography. Geography student teachers will share their reflections and new resources will be shared within and between schools, academy trusts, and a local anti-racist education collective.


2021: Dr Patricia Noxolo (University of Birmingham) 'Supervision for black Geography PhD students: Towards Good Practice Guidelines'

This project aims to address the gap in discipline specific guidelines on how to increase and improve the experience of postgraduate researchers in Geography. It will draw on ten interviews conducted with black PhD students, with supervisors of black PhD students and with postdoctoral black academics to explore examples of best practice along the doctoral pathway – from initial supervision through to retention and mentoring in post- PhD academic life. The project will culminate in an online workshop, where the initial findings will be presented, but will also set the stage for a  more public discussion on this crucial issue.  The project will directly benefit future doctoral researchers as well as the geography discipline by addressing one of its’ central diversity problematics. 


2021: Dr Emma Mawdsley (University of Cambridge). 'Hopeful Geographies' 

This project will support a seminar series on ‘Hopeful Geographies’. The aim is to develop rigorous, scholarly debates around theories and practices of positive change. Our students currently graduate with deep knowledge of challenges and problems (e.g. climate change, economic inequality, social injustices), and excellent skills of critique and deconstruction, but less by way of thinking about what changes they want, and the different ways in which they might think and act to achieve positive change. The end goal is to formulate a third-year paper, designed to be shared, adopted and adapted freely by other Geography Departments.


2020: Dr Martin Mahony (University of East Anglia) 'Norwich Model Arctic Council for University (NORMAC University) 2020'

Simulations of diplomatic practice greatly enhance student learning in political and environmental geography. Having successfully run a pilot NORMAC University conference in 2019 involving undergraduates from Trent University and the University of East Anglia (UEA), we will run a second conference in 2020 open to undergraduates from universities around the world. During this five-day experiential learning event, undergraduates playing the roles of diplomats attending a full cycle of meetings of the Arctic Council will discuss, debate and seek consensus on social, political and environmental challenges in the Circumpolar North.


2019: Dr Daniel Hammett (University of Sheffield) 'Developing best practice in ethical research in the global south'

Through a partnership between the University of Sheffield, the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), and the Sheffield Methods Institute (SMI), this project will develop a set of resources to tackle current weaknesses in research ethics training due to an implicit bias towards work conducted in the global north. The project will consist of a live-streamed workshop on research ethics, the development of an online depository of teaching materials for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and the publishing of an Essential Guide to Research Ethics in the Global South.


2017: Jonathan Reades (King’s College London) 'Geopyter: Geographical Python Teaching Resources'

Geopyter seeks to benefit students of geography by providing a hub for sharing 'best practice' in computational and spatial analytic instruction, enabling instructors to flexibly remix contributed content to suit their individual needs and delivery frameworks, and encouraging users to contribute ideas about how to teach everything from individual concepts to whole courses.


2017: Fiona McConnell and Liam Saddington (University of Oxford) 'Model UNPO’ simulation exercises: Debating global governance'

This project aims to educate secondary school geography students about issues facing some of the most marginalised communities in the world. Teaching materials will be developed that will enable teachers to run role play exercises and debate issues around environmental injustice, human rights, sustainable development and conflict resolution.


2011: Alex Singleton (University of Liverpool) 'The Geodemographics of Access and Participation in Geography'

Through interrogation of national coverage, individual schools and Higher Education data, the project examined the participation of geographers in Higher Education across the UK.


2009: Nicola Rowland (John of Gaunt School, Wiltshire)

The purpose of the expedition was to send four teachers of different disciplines to carry out scientific experiments, in the harshest of polar conditions, with the aim of encouraging and inspiring their students by creating materials and resources that meets the needs of the National Curriculum.


2008: Monica Biagioli (University of the Arts, London) 'There are Echoes'

A sound as cartography exhibition, around the London 2012 Olympic site. The project brought mentors and students together to map the space by visiting the site around the time of construction and gathering materials, both visual and sound-based, to create visual maps and soundscapes.


2007: Ruth Hollinger (Tapton School, Sheffield)

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first crossing of Antarctica, four geography and science teachers travelled to the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica to conduct scientific research. The main aim of the expedition was for the teachers to use their experiences to encourage more young people to take an interest in geography and science.


2006: Dr Rupert Perkins (Cardiff University). 'Interactive live video imaging of conservation work through e-learning'

This project used WiFi cameras to image aspects of live marine conservation work in the Greek Aegean, for use within the Marine Geography degree scheme at Cardiff University. The project provided students with live examples of conservation in action.