Recently (well it was recently when I started writing this post – it has been in the draft stages for quite a while now) I was involved in a twitter conversation about the idea and practice of public geographies. Whilst geographers have long been interested in geography-in-public there is currently a reinvigorated and lively debate about the topic. The full conversation has been storifyed and is available here.
This ongoing discussion, that began with Duncan Fuller’s and Kye Askins’ 2007 paper, is interrogating what public geographies means, what challenges and opportunities does it present, what geography-in-public should be and what responsibilities do researchers have to make geography public. A good chunk of this dialogue has revolved around digital scholarship and the enhanced opportunities that social media platforms offer academics to make their work public.
Public geographies was the subject matter of a seminar I attended for my MA Cultural Geography course at Royal Holloway, University of London led by Harriet Hawkins and one I have confronted many times since – often in the guise of ‘Impact’. Many questions were prompted and raised by that seminar which continued to revolve around my mind for the duration of the day. Thus I took to the public arena of twitter to initiate a conversation about public geographies:
It all started with a tweet:
Tweeps. Would like to hear your experiences of ‘public geographies’. Do you engage in them, how & with who? What does it mean to you?
— Simon Cook (@SimonIanCook) October 10, 2013
Like many things, this question was a slow burner but built up a head of steam over a couple of days with some fascinating conversations. I hoped that many people would pitch in with their point of view, opinions and practices – and they certainly did. The conversation involved a range of academic geographers from Masters students to Professors; a range of geography educators; international viewpoints and some non-geographers as well.
Over a series of themed blog posts, I hope to be able to summarise and reflect on the many themes that arose in these discussions and that I have confronted since about being a public geographer and what having impact may entail. I have no set schedule for this series, but I hope to cover most of themes of the next few months.
And just as an end-note, I have a board on Pinterest that collates the various readings and examples of public geographies that will be discussed in the series and beyond.