Where could geography take you? The RGS Ambassador Scheme

by Sara Elizabeth Fisher

Ever wondered how to pursue your love of geography. The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has the answer in the form of the Ambassador scheme targeted at undergraduate, postgraduate and graduate geographers looking to make an active contribution to their community and to promote the subject of geography. Simon Faulkner, the coordinator of the scheme explains the benefits to school pupils:

‘The Geography Ambassador Scheme uses undergraduate and graduate geographer’s enthusiasm and passion for the subject to show school pupils of any Secondary School age the relevance and importance of the subject, not just to them personally, but also in application to the wider world.’

The scheme exists to promote the discipline of geography. Everyone who has engaged with geography has experienced the perceived negative stereotypes associated with it, something which serves to deflect away from the depth and brilliance of the subject. This scheme seeks to dispel the myths associated with the subject and promote geography as the inspiring and diverse subject it is.

I joined the scheme as a third year as a way of enhancing my employability and helping me to consider alternative career paths. However I was pleasantly surprised with the training day, honestly my expectation was a couple of hours going through guidelines and safety regulations. The session itself was indicative of Geography at its best, engaging, informative and extremely enjoyable. Throughout the training session we discussed how to encourage younger pupils to engage with the discipline, how to make sessions creative and interactive and deal with any problems that may arise throughout our participation on the scheme. The emphasis throughout was on how we can take our ideas and love of Geography beyond the institution, this as Simon Faulkner states is the primary purpose of the scheme:

‘The scheme places a large importance on relating the subject to school pupils, drawing on the Ambassadors’ university geography and ideas that pupils would not have encountered before, in an effort to encourage them to take the subject past the compulsory stages.’

The scheme promotes an awareness and skill set which is valuable on a personal level, providing one with the confidence and motivation to do something which a subject they are passionate about. William Hingley, a third year Geography student who undertook the scheme last year explains how the scheme enabled him to expand his skill set, ‘the scheme really developed my confidence in working with younger generations and helped me share my love of Geography with a younger generation’. This is a sentiment shared by the Coordinator of the scheme, ‘the scheme promotes the aspects of geography that are not always picked up on, such as the variety of skills you gain and the socially conscious nature of the subject’. The scheme is unusual in its multiplicity of tackling many issues, broadening the horizons of the both the geographer and the subject.

I would highly recommend that every student should apply for the scheme:

‘The RGS Ambassador scheme helped to reaffirm my passion for geography. I remembered how much fun it is going beyond dissertations and deadlines. The day was really fun and I would encourage everyone to give it a go’. Daniel McConaghy, third year Geography student.

So next time the email comes round asking for people to sign up for the RGS Ambassador scheme, give it a shot. You never know where it may take you.

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