Looking beyond the box-office: What it means to be an enchanted geographer

Geography plays a crucial role in understanding our world. It makes a vital contribution to our knowledge of the rapidly changing political, economical, social, technological, legal, environmental landscape. Geographers were among the first scientists to sound the alarm that human-induced changes to the environment were beginning to threaten life at a global scale.

What is geography?

noun: geography

  1. the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources and political and economic activities.
  2. the nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features.
  3. a geographical area; a region, space, place.
  4. the people. the cultures.

What it means to be an enchanted geographer (see Tara Woodyer and Hilary Geoghegan 2014)

Enchantment in geography is championed by Dr Tara Woodyer at the University of Portsmouth in England.

Enchantment as object of study enables geographers to develop new ways that allow for experimentation with, and reporting on, alternate worlds and possibilities. (see Geoghegan Hilary and Tara Woodyer 2013)

The box office fallacy: Why Enchantment?

The rate of scientific and technological innovations and achievements has transformed the way we do virtually everything.

Due to the connectivity and phase of innovation and change, it’s impractical to track proceedings from a box office.

Lets face it, the box office behind the walls of a higher education will not suffice for the connectivity and needs of community engagement and education in the near future.

Current state of academic research and reporting (see Linda Kaye 2019)

According to Dr Kaye, here, not all academic research fulfils its potential in reaching relevant stakeholders, user-groups or beneficiaries.

For example, President Trump talks about climate change and academic community starts running around as if the world is about to come to an end.

According to Dr Kaye, the main barrier for this is that academics do not always have the time or in some cases, the inclination or skills to find ways of communicating their research in accessible ways to non-academic audiences. This is a missed opportunity, particularly when considering that the primary purpose of academic research is often to inform and support areas of society which are largely outside the academic sphere.

Being enchanted is about opening up and not closing down geographical endeavour. It involves a positive energy and an attention to the exploration of alternate worlds and possibilities for academic research and reporting.

An enchanted cultural geographer:

1. appreciates the small and seemingly irrelevant;

2. continually redefines what is considered to be serious;

3. will use the seemingly trivial to track larger issues;

4. retain a curiosity and inquisitiveness for the world;

5. brings enchantment to all engagement across the life-course;

6. continually seek creative ways of reporting and community engagement.

Geography is about learning how to understand the links between disciplines, and using those links to develop new, world-changing innovations.

It is the study of the Earth’s people, environments, and landscapes and unique in that it bridges the social sciences and natural sciences. The driving theme for geographical research and reporting is one of space and place and people. This make geographers interdisciplinary innovators with an important role in addressing major challenges facing academia and our world.

Published by John Adewole

Senior User Researcher

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