Geography education for the Anthropocene: Reflections on IGU-CGE 2023 from the conference organising committee

Lauren Hammond, Emma Rawlings Smith, Grace Healy, Steve Puttick and David Mitchell 

Introducing the conference

The International Geographical Union’s Commission on Geographical Education’s (IGU-CGE) purpose is ‘to promote geographical and environmental education globally’ (IGU-CGE, n.p). Members of IGU-CGE organise a conference annually to support research sharing and knowledge exchange between colleagues researching and teaching in geography education. Every fourth year, the conference comes to the United Kingdom (UK) and this year’s (2023) conference was hosted in Oxford by the Geography Education Research Collective (GEReCo), which merged with the UK’s sub-committee for the IGU-CGE in 2019. The conference comprised of a meeting of the emerging scholars’ network, a fieldtrip, 2 keynotes, 2 convened sessions, 64 papers and 8 posters from 87 delegates. There were 93 attendees from institutions in 17 countries across 5 continents. Some 39 of the presenters were doctoral researchers reflecting the growth of research interest in, and the importance of early career research(ers) to, the field of geography education. It was notable that there was more representation from colleagues working in some countries – such as England, the People’s Republic of China, the Netherlands and Germany – than other nations. This is important to note, as it may reflect both differences in the place of geography education in national and institutional contexts, along with socio-spatial injustices in knowledge production and sharing. 

We write together as co-organisers and members of GEReCo. We begin by introducing the theme of the conference Geography education for the Anthropocene, before reflecting on the significance of the development of the emerging scholars’ network. We then offer thoughts on the keynotes, and the fieldtrip led by ‘Uncomfortable Oxford’ – a student-led social enterprise who share ‘the stories beneath the spires, uncovering the unheard voices from Oxford’s past’ (Uncomfortable Oxford, n.p.). We conclude by suggesting three themes of particular interest from papers across the conference.

The conference was organised around the theme ‘geography education for the Anthropocene’. The Anthropocene is a term that was first used by Paul Crutzen – the Nobel Peace Prize winning atmospheric chemist – in 2000 (Nixon, 2011). It is an ‘epochal term: it proposes that modern humans possess powers equivalent to the great forces of global nature – although these are unwitting powers that are the combination of countless everyday activities (e.g., driving to work) undertaken by billions of people’ (Castree, 2017: n.p.). There are injustices in the causes and impacts of the climate and ecological changes which shape the Anthropocene. For example, the fossil economy has been fueled by the enslavement, movement and maltreatment of Black and Brown people to support Western lifestyles through the extraction of materials such as coal (Yusoff, 2018). Injustices and processes of exploitation evolve, but are ongoing, as some people still view ‘the Earth as though it were an inert entity that exists primarily to be exploited and profited from, with the aid of technology and science’ (Ghosh, 2021: p.119), with some companies, politicians and world leaders actively promoting this through economic policies and actions (Latour, 2017). 

The theme was chosen to reflect the interest, concern and sense of urgency about geography education’s engagement with the area. As Lambert (2023: n.p.) expresses in a recent GEReCo blog ‘the discomforting truth remains that we know human societies on planet Earth face existential challenges’. More-than-humans also face apocalyptical violence (Ghosh, 2021) in this period of multi-species urgency which requires us to ‘stay with the trouble’ (Haraway, 2016), be truly present, and to reimagine our connections, collaborations and entanglements. For Latour (2017), these are problems of scale, dimensions, lodging and belonging as people (re)consider where and how they live, and their connections to place and more-than-human companions.

The Anthropocene raises important and complex questions around curriculum, pedagogy and purpose, which geography educators in all settings and stages and contexts are grappling with. Our hope was for the conference to be an opportunity for critical dialogue with these questions. For example, Tom Wils (Fontys University) considered the value of pedagogies of hope and courage to support young people in exploring the Symbiocene. Through the use of scenarios representing the future, Wils examined how dialogic teaching could support young people’s agency in the classroom and beyond. The conference also provided an opportunity for colleagues to critically reflect upon the material, digital and social spaces that we work within and (re)produce in the Anthropocence. For example, Daniel Sewlyn (London Mining Network) raised questions about the procurement of educational technology in the UK, and how we explore injustices in production and mining with young people through school geography.

Structuring the conference: Networks, keynotes, sessions and fieldtrips

The conference began with an opportunity for emerging scholars to meet, network and share experiences, and to shape the development of the network. The emerging scholars’ network was initiated by Hermione Xin Miao (University of Stirling, UK) and Melissa Hanke (Universität Hamburg, Germany), in collaboration with Dr Gillian Kidman (Monash University, Australia) and Dr Martin Hanus (Charles University, Czechia) from IGU-CGE’s steering committee following the 2022 conference in Rennes. The emerging scholars’ network is in development, and – as their poster abstract expresses in the conference programme – has the broad aim of ‘empowering everyone in geography education… to connect emerging scholars across continents to collaborate and build a network for exchange and discussion.’ Through a meeting and an interactive poster, the network fostered the views of attendees to inform the next stages in its development.

The first keynote was an after-dinner speech from Dr Amber Murrey (University of Oxford, UK), Pedagogical disobedience for the Anthropocene, which encouraged colleagues to ‘think about the potentials for purposeful pedagogical disobedience in the classroom’. Murrey’s keynote was deeply embedded in the space of the University of Oxford. She reflected on how as an educator she had challenged injustices, and not only through what she teaches and how: she spoke about how the actions of educators and faculty members within, and beyond, education spaces matters.

In the second keynote, Spaces of childhood and education in the Anthropocene, Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham, UK) raised questions about children’s entanglements with more-than-humans in the worlds that they shape and are shaped by. For example, drawing on the Treescapes (n.p.) project, Kraftl explored how young people in urban spaces develop diverse knowledges of trees and considered the value of co-production with young people, artists and scientists. Kraftl also considered the institutionalization of childhood, including through, education and how young people are sometimes highly surveilled in their bodies, ‘behaviour’, and in their academic ‘performance’. Kraftl examined how different and diverse education spaces are socially and materially constructed sometimes with the aim of challenging ‘mainstream’ educational experiences. Kraftl’s keynote suggested important themes for further consideration in geography education, including around the relationships between children, (geography) education and environment – as they are and as they might be envisaged for the future.

Conference sessions were diverse and reflected a thriving international geography education research community. Sessions explored themes such as: ethics, pedagogies of hope and futures thinking; teacher education; national curricular and teaching materials; the (in)visibility of subject content; representations and voices in the classroom; knowledge production and exchange; digital geographies and geospatial capabilities. The final session on ‘Geography education, health and risk in the Anthropocene’ engaged with the complexity of the global ecological crisis. Papers across the conference reflected on the importance of engaging with diverse knowledges, stories and voices. This included active consideration of children’s geographies, and how, and why, educators might further engage with them to support young people in meaning making, to challenge injustices and to support young people’s citizenship in education spaces. 

The importance of engaging with the personal geographies and knowledges of teachers was raised by Iram Sammar (Kings College London), as she illuminated the significance of starting from the perspective of a Muslim geography teacher and surfacing ‘hidden histories’ in relation to the Anthropocene through the lens of Islam. Papers critically examined which knowledges and geographies from across the world were included and represented in geography education. Through introducing a collaborative curriculum project involving researchers from the Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa project, the Geographical Association and geography teachers in Cameroon and the UK, Winter et al.’s paper raised questions around knowledge production and access to geographical knowledge.

The Friday fieldtrip was a walking tour of Oxford led by Oxford students and designed to take us beyond the traditional narratives of the city by highlighting often hidden histories of race, gender, class, and legacies of empire:

 Conclusions: Reflecting on themes that emerged from the conference

Amid the wide range of presentations and discussions, we want to highlight three themes emerging from the conference as key areas of future research in geography education: expanding knowledges; post-growth; and hope. First, the importance and ethics of engaging with and valuing diverse knowledges, stories and voices in geography education. Papers in the conference illustrated the importance of engaging with disciplinary knowledge, the histories of geography, indigenous knowledges, everyday knowledge and also the practice and professional knowledges of educators in geography education. Second, the nature of geography education in a post growth world. Dorling (2020: p.1) uses the term slowdown to represent changes in our expectation of acceleration, not only in terms of population, but also technological advancement and rising prices. Dorling argues that slowdown requires a change in perception of what it means to slowdown. For example, he states that slowdown may mean 

‘…more durable goods and less waste. Social and environmental problems that we currently worry about will not be problems in the future. We will, of course, have new problems—including ones we cannot even imagine right now.’

As papers in the conference reflected, this requires geography educators to consider not only what they are teaching, but how, why, where and with what.  

Finally, papers encouraged reflection on the place of hope in education. In a context of concerns being raised about eco-anxiety and the potentially catastrophic impacts of humans on the Earth, the conference encouraged discussion about how children and young people might be supported and empowered to envision and enact alternative, and more hopeful, futures.


Castree, N. 2017. ‘The Anthropocene and geography’ available at: (accessed 11/07/2023)

Dorling, D. 2020. Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration-and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives. London: Yale University Press.

Ghosh, A. 2017.  The Nutmeg’s curse: Parables for a planet in crises London: John Murray Publishers.

Haraway, D. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

IGU-CGE, Homepage. Available at: Home – IGU CGE ( (Accessed 08/07/2023)

Lambert, D. 2023. Teaching the human epoch: The geography of it all. Available at: GEReCo Blog – GEReCo UK IGU-CGE (accessed 11/07/2023)

Latour, B. 2017.  Down to Earth: Politics in the new climatic regime Cambridge: Polity Press.

Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Treescapes. About us. Available at: About us | Treescapes ( (accessed 11/07/2023)

Uncomfortable Oxford. Home. Available at: 
Home | Uncomfortable Oxford (accessed 11/07/2023)

Yusoff, K. 2018. A billion black Anthropocenes or none Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press


Teaching in the human epoch: the geography of it all

By Emeritus Professor David Lambert

An earlier version of this article was published in Public History Weekly[1]: that was a special issue in which scholars discussed mainly the role of history in addressing the Anthropocene. It is interesting indeed that history educators are taking an interest in deep time – that is, geological time scales. But as John Dewey pointed out in the early twentieth century, at about the time when teaching American history in US schools was in its great ascendancy, geography is the subject that studies the Earth as the home of humankind. It is therefore reasonable to ask what geographical studies might bring to deliberations with young people about contemporary predicaments and existential challenges associated with the human epoch – I say more about this later. 

However, the profound significance of a geographical gaze as distinct from an historical one was, for Dewey, dependent upon its insistence on synthesis – to see the Earth as whole and not divided into human, physical, social or natural realms. Achieving such unity is pedagogically ambitious requiring a conceptual approach to teaching geography, always coming back to understanding the relations and links between phenomena. In Dewey’s estimation this was rarely achieved, school geography more likely to resemble the cartoonish caricature of the subject: of lists, maps and more lists to memorize random facts for no apparent purpose:

“The earth as the home of man is humanizing and unified; the earth viewed as a miscellany of facts is scattering and imaginatively inert.” (Dewey, 1916, p 240)

Leaving aside the school subject for a moment, geography itself has been described as one of the fundamental curiosities that human beings possess. Furthermore, it is claimed that an interest in geography is in the end, always about survival (Bonnett, 2008). Where you build your settlements (and what with), what you choose to grow, where you dispose of waste, the measures you take to sustain life, what you make and who you trade with… these are all matters that give rise to geographical questions, and John Dewey realised this. They are questions that demand knowledge of both the physical environment (weather and climate, life on earth and landscape) and human behaviours (in cultural, economic, social and political realms), for geographical questions are usually concerned with how various influences and factors interrelate and interact. Thus, although we can talk about ‘human’ and ‘physical’ geography – and frequently geographers self-identify as being one or the other – in truth, thinking geographically about an ever-changing world always carries a relational component which seeks to cross this ‘human-nature’ divide (see Castree, 2005). 

It is important to acknowledge the intellectual challenge contained in this claim about the power of geography, for the physical-human divide is real in both epistemological and ontological terms. For many in academic life it is unbridgeable, to the point at which some leading geographers have questioned the very possibility of describing geography as a discipline at all (Clifford, 2018). It is at least sprawling, eclectic and very ‘horizontal’ in its structure, making geography appear unruly and lacking the well-defined ‘verticality’ displayed by, say, physics – or perhaps in its own highly specialist research sub-fields.[2] Furthermore, in chasing specialist research funding and prioritising publication in high-status journals, academics in geography departments can function perfectly well without having to ‘think geographically’ in the sense outlined above. This alone may explain why many geography departments in the US have been reclassified since the 1990s,[3] and why in the USA the majority have disappeared completely – never really recovering from what the president of Harvard declared on closing down the geography programme there in 1948, that ‘geography is not a university subject’.

The bequeathed problem is that in most US states, geography is no longer an identifiable school subject either, appearing only as an often quite minor ‘content strand’ within social studies. Geography’s unquestioned place in school during expansive and turbulent nation building years of the latter half of the nineteenth century was undermined in the 1916 National Education Association (NEA) report which recommended that geography be limited to half a year in seventh grade. From then on the subject was considered merely ‘incidental to history’, a judgement influenced perhaps by the contemporaneous commentary from Dewey. It has frankly never recovered from this judgement, mainly through its own failure to articulate convincingly its purpose and educational value (McDougall (2015, p 51). This is not quite the same in the UK where a lively discourse has emerged over many decades showing the contributions geographical thinking can make, not only to the intellectual development of children and young people but to their preparedness to ‘take on the world’ (Massey, 2014). In the UK, there is a fairly sophisticated, dynamic understanding of school geography, even though this is often at variance with what geographers do in the universities – and of course, geography as it exists in the popular imagination of pub quizzes, game shows and indeed many politicians and policy makers.

I suspect John Dewey would agree with my argument here that geography, based on the notion of educating young people to ‘think geographically’, is a precious cultural asset, and that in the human epoch it needs to be rediscovered in the school curriculum. It is a school subject that is inherently inter-disciplinary, and which explicitly takes as its object of study the Earth as our home. When we re-imagine those enduring ‘survival’ questions sampled earlier for present day societal and global challenges (including, but not limited to, the climate emergency), then the case for geographical thinking becomes even more convincing. Take for instance the 2020 global pandemic: the scrambling of governments to respond with varying levels of effectiveness have created fascinating human geographies. Understanding the pandemic, in terms of how the Covid19 virus spreads, the circumstances that encouraged its transmission and the measures that have managed to suppress this, arises from quintessentially geographical questions. The spatially differentiated incidence and impact of the disease can be explained only by a combination of environmental, social, economic and of course political factors. It is important to understand the significance of ‘the geography of it all’. 

Furthermore, the 2020-21 health emergency has resulted in monumental levels of state debt – on top of the years of austerity that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. In Chapter 6 of The Enigma of Capital (entitled ‘The geography of it all’), David Harvey states categorically that “the circulation of capital does not take place on the head of a pin” (2010:159), instead stressing the ways that global capital flows are also spatially discerning. Just as with the global pandemic – or even the circulation of heat in the Earth’s atmospheric system – a global perspective does not imply that local geographies are dead. Far from it, as attempts at forms of international or even global governance show us very well. Trump’s ‘America First’ policies designed to undermine NATO, the UN and WHO, and of course the UK’s Brexit adventure, were politics fuelled by nativist instincts and none too carefully examined notions of national exceptionalism. But as Harvey has also pointed out, it was no use assembling rational economic arguments to stave off Brexit in 2016: “economics only trumps politics in the long run, and in the long run we are all dead.”[4]

So, while economics is notoriously abstract (theorising, as if on the head of a pin), geography attempts to give human and physical processes empirical meaning. Political geographers have shown that the scale of localised ‘experience’ in which people live, and the ‘real’ scale of global processes both directly, but differentially, impact on people’s lives (Flint and Taylor, 2018). Given that part of thinking geographically means that we teach young people to grasp the interlocking nature of place and space we can see the profound educational contribution teaching geography can make, at least in principle. This is not to teach young people what to think about the politics, but through the geography of it all, ways to think productively about themselves at home on planet Earth. To give this statement empirical bite, let us just consider just one recent incidence of the climate emergency: the forest fires raging in California and the Pacific Northwest States in 2021. These fierce and deadly fires are diagnosed as part of the global climate emergency. They result from extreme weather events predicted to occur with more frequency and with greater peaks than before the atmospheric impact of rapid sustained carbon-based economic growth since the mid-twentieth century. However, politicians, even those with climate change denying instincts, were not entirely out of order in claiming local explanations and solutions to the catastrophes – which are, of course, all experienced in localities. Issues such as improving forest management techniques, creating more and wider fire breaks and even regulations on where to build settlements – all need to adjust to the new normal. Think geographically requires us to hold all this in mind, as “unified” to use Dewey’s words.

Thinking geographically, in the form I am assembling here, is multifaceted and not straightforward. It is not ‘just’ another way to enhance curiosity in young people, important though this is. Developing curiosity in schools, through languages, mathematics, the sciences, arts and humanities, is perhaps the greatest tool society has collectively, to enhance democracy and to help resist baser, parochial political instincts. However, it goes almost without saying that such a liberal, Deweyian ideal is now under so much pressure that it has an almost hollow tone to it. In the world of education, we are used to the discourse of failure and derision resulting in continuous reform designed to raise levels of ‘accountability’ in teaching and in teacher training, but also in school organisation, school management and leadership, the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. For in society at large, which is far from sanguine about the Age of Acceleration (Friedman, 2016) – of which the climate emergency is just one aspect, we are browbeaten about the end of progress. It is now no longer assumed that children will have ‘better’ lives than their parents, producing a lingering air of anxiety or even deep and profound fatalism. In these circumstances, schools have become mainly an arm of performance driven economic policy, as if just more of the same, but just faster being based on ‘new kinds of smart’, will resolve things. Education can surely provide a more ambitious response than this, which is tantamount to ‘hoping for the best’. Can we return to, or renew, a bigger sense of mission in education, one that imagines schools as part of the means at society’s disposal to stave-off the inevitable? If we can, developing the capacity in young people to think geographically has a part to play in this.

And so we come, if not to the apocalypse, to confronting the human epoch, or Anthropocene. For when the pandemic is under control, Brexit has become a fact and the Trump years have been placed in parenthesis (perhaps), the discomforting truth remains that we know human societies on planet Earth face existential challenges. Even geographer Danny Dorling in his optimistic Slowdown (Dorling, 2020) in which he shows that many of the taken for granted ‘accelerations’ of our age, notably the population explosion, are well past their peaks, admits that the climate emergency is both real and urgent. So far, global mitigation policies have been inadequate to prevent average global temperature increases of more than 2 degrees centigrade – which will result in the inundation of major world cities, the disappearance of whole countries, high frequency extreme weather events and enormous movements of desperate people (and the prospect of the global super-rich trying to insulate themselves on protected gated communities in New Zealand and other ‘safe havens’). To paraphrase David Harvey, the economy might well trump politics in the long run, but the environment trumps everything. 

In other words, environmental earth systems represent the bottom bottom line in any attempt to audit and understand human life at home on planet Earth. But not only this. The profundity of the Anthropocene is in accepting that it is an identifiable epoch of geological time – when human activity powerful enough to shape the planet’s physical systems will have detectable consequences in the fossil record. When we read that the weight of plastic waste in the sea is now the equivalent of the weight of the fish that swim in it; or that the weight of human made edifices now outweighs the whole of plant and animal life on Earth, we can intuit that the Anthropocene (which is said by many to have begun in the mid-twentieth century) is a fact.  We might query the measurement instruments and methodology, but we would know that to do so would be like whistling in the wind. For we know that humans have the ability to extinguish biodiversity (including much human life) on Earth. And we know that this is beginning to look inevitable.

Enormous intellectual effort is being put to work, not only to find technological and economic solutions but also social and cultural interventions that may help stave-off the inevitable. Interestingly, there are also important debates emerging about how it came to be like this. For example, philosophers of history are conversing about how to incorporate the long-term history of the Earth into historical studies and how to recognise the non-human, or ‘planetary’, as historical (Latour and Chakrabarty, 2020). A key point in the historical debate is the acceptance that “… the Earth has become an agent and no longer the backdrop of human agency” which leads to the conclusion that earth systems, Gaia (or indeed geography) are far from merely ‘incidental’ to history. This is potentially quite an about turn from the earlier, degraded view of geography that took hold for much of the twentieth century. Interestingly, Bruno Latour designates the last century as the “lost century” – because it took scholars and society at large so long to grasp the real ‘bottom line’. This was especially true in the triumphalist period since 1989 and the ‘end of history’ following the Cold War victory over communism, a time when the risks of climate change and pollution were already well understood.

An appropriate educational response to the human epoch needs to value geographical thinking: thinking that does not put human beings above (or even separate from) nature; that puts locales and nations into their global context; and which always seeks to understand interconnections. The relevance of Geography For Life in the US, or the National Curriculum programmes of study in England, for encouraging or enabling teachers to engage in such ‘unified’ thinking with their students has to be brought into question. Reform has to get beyond refining and reproducing the standards. We tried to take some steps to do this in the GeoCapabilities project[5], which has attracted considerable productive debate in the field of geography education (eg Béneker, 2018; Bustin, 2019; Maude, 2016; Lambert, Solem and Tani, 2015; Lambert, Béneker and Bladh; 2021; Uhlenwinkel et al, 2017). I believe reformed school geography, which seeks to enhance children and young people’s capabilities with regard to thinking about society-nature relationships and environmental futures, represents a profound educational response to the challenges of the human epoch.

One of the principles of the GeoCapabilities project was that real curriculum reform is distributed. It is in the hands of teachers working in educational settings locally, often in teams but frequently on their own. Teachers are the curriculum makers: they enact the curriculum with the young people they teach. In this sense teachers have considerable agency (see Lambert and León, 2023). Yes, they have to meet the standards and deliver the programme, but there are so many ways to do this and to make it matter to students.


Béneker, T. (2018) Powerful Knowledge in Geographical Education. Inaugural lecture as professor of Geography and Education, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University (16.10.2018)

Bustin, R. (2019) The Potential of Geography Education and the Capability Approach. Abingdon: Routledge.

Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield

Bonnett, A. (2008) What is Geography? London: Sage.

Castree, N. (2005) Nature (Key Ideas in Geography). Abingdon: Routledge.

Clifford, N. (2018) Geography’s identity as an academic discipline. Jones, M. and Lambert, D. (Eds) Debates in Geography Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: MacMillan. (

Dorling, D. (2020) Slowdown: the end of the Great Acceleration – and why it’s good for the planet, the economy and our lives. New Haven and London: Yale University Press

Flint C and Taylor P (2018) Political Geography: World Economy, Nation State and Locality. (Seventh Edition) Abingdon: Routledge.

Friedman, T. L. (2016). Thank You for Being Late: An Optimists Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Harvey, D. (2010) The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism. London: Profile Books.

Lambert, D., Béneker, T. and Bladh, G. (2021) The challenge of ‘recontextualisation’ and Future 3 curriculum scenarios: an overview in Fargher, M., Mitchel, D. and Till, E. (Eds) (2021) Recontextualising Geography in Education.Cham: Springer.

Lambert, D. and León, K. (2023) The value of geography to an individual’s education, in Biddulph, M., Catling, S., Hammond, L. & and McKendrick, J. (Eds) Transforming Children’s Geographies: Rethinking Children’s Geographical Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Lambert, D., Solem, M., and Tani, S. (2015). Achieving Human Potential Through Geography Education: A Capabilities Approach to Curriculum Making in Schools. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 105 (4), pp. 723-735.

Latour, B. and Chakrabarty, D. (2020) Conflicts of Planetary Proportion – a conversation, Journal of the Philosophy of History, 14, 419-454.

Massey, D. (20-14) Taking on the World, Geography, 99, 1, 36-39.

Maude, A. (2016). What might powerful geographical knowledge look like? Geography, Vol. 101, Part 1 pp. 70-76.

McDougall, W. A. (2015) Geography, History and True Education Research in Geographic Education 17, 1, 10-89.

Morgan, J. (2012) Teaching Secondary Geography as if the Planet Matters. Abingdon: Routledge.

Uhlenwinkel, A., Béneker, T., Bladh, G., Tani, S. and Lambert, D. (2017) GeoCapabilities and Curriculum Leadership: balancing the Priorities of aims-based and knowledge-led Curriculum Thinking in Schools, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 26, 4, 327-341. 

Vernon, E. (2016) The structure of knowledge: does theory matter? Geography, 101, 2, 100-104.

Vernon, E. (2019) Teaching to the epistemic self: ascending and descending the ladder of knowledge, The Curriculum Journal, 31, 1, 27-47.

[1] Aspects republished here with permission and thanks to the Editors Arthur Chapman and Marko Demantowsky

[2] This terminology draws on the British sociologist of education Basil Bernstein (2000) whose theorising on knowledge structures has been influential. School teacher Ester Vernon has explored Bernstein in the context of teaching geography (Vernon , 2016; 2019)




This website contains outcomes and materials arising from the international GeoCapabilities project, seed funded by the NSF in the US, and then by the EU Comenius programme. Despite being described by one prominent US geography educationist as “useless nonsense”, one of the overarching aims of the project has been to focus on the affordances of high-quality geography education in ‘this day and age’, and the significance of thinking geographically.