Join us
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) welcome sign

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us

How do human geographers use creative methods, such as poetry, to engage with changing places? We spoke to Dr Phil Jones, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Geography at University of Birmingham about his collaboration with professional poet, Chris Jam, in Cardiff, Wales.

Dr Phil Jones is a cultural geographer with research interests in urban regeneration, place-making, and the arts. More particularly, he is interested in the use of creative methods in geographical research; such as qualitative GIS, mobile interviewing and arts-based approaches.

You can follow Dr Phil Jones on Twitter @philjonesgeog

Key words

The intersection of arts and humanities with geographical scholarship which is focused around topics such as: environment, landscape, and place.

This is commonly used to describe a kind of feeling and is increasingly used by academics to explore feelings, experience, and emotions around a space, place, landscape, or gathering.

Ambiance is not dissimilar to atmosphere, but may encompass the manipulation of experience through the alteration of lights, acoustics, temperature etc.

Lesson ideas

Ask students to consider how atmosphere and ambiance are made and how they might be considered to be geographical. Start with the classroom to explore the people, objects, and feelings that produce its atmosphere.

Considering what students have learnt about atmosphere ask them to explore their local area. How is atmosphere produced here? Can they think about ways that place-makers may have attempted to produce a particular feelings in this space (for example, busking, food markets, gallery spaces and art installations).

Students should collect stories, images and favourite poetry from their classmates and produce their own poems that reflect these experiences.


Jones, P and Jam, C. (2016) Creating ambiances, co-constructing place: a poetic transect across the city. Area, 48: 317-324. [Free Access]

Dr Phil Jones: University pages and personal pages 

Simpson, P. (2011) ‘So, as you can see…’ some reflections on the utility video methodologies in the study of embodied practices’. Area, 43(3) pp. 343-352

Rescue Geography (examining people’s understandings of their local environment)