Oxford Brookes Professor to receive Royal Geographical Society award in recognition for “extraordinary achievement”

Tuesday, 08 May 2018

Prof Helen Walkington

Professor Helen Walkington will be presented with a Royal Geographical Society award next month for “outstanding contributions to geography”.

The Taylor and Francis Award will be given to Professor Walkington in recognition for sustained contributions to teaching and learning in higher education.  

The accolade is part of a series of awards that recognise “extraordinary achievement in geographical research, fieldwork and teaching, policy work and public engagement”.  

Responding to the news, Professor Walkington commented: “It is a tremendous honour to receive this prestigious award from the Royal Geographical Society and a great opportunity to acknowledge the support of colleagues across Oxford Brookes University and collaborators at other institutions in the UK and internationally.

“My career began by working as a geography teacher in a remote rural school in Zimbabwe through the volunteer organisation VSO. With limited resources, I became committed to the mantra that ‘geography is learnt through the soles of the shoes’.

Society’s need for expert communicators, and a greater understanding of the world around us, is critical. I look forward to continuing with my teaching and research collaborations in helping to ensure this need is met.

Professor Helen Walkington, Professor of Higher Education, Oxford Brookes University

“I have used that mantra in working with teachers at primary, secondary and university level, adopting a research-based approach to teaching geography.”

At the Higher Education Academy, Professor Helen Walkington promoted the links between teaching and research more widely across the disciplines of geography, earth and environmental sciences, providing resources and courses for new and established academics.  

Since then Professor Walkington has worked hard to create research opportunities for all students, whether through field and laboratory research, group projects, or mentored research. She has led a national initiative for students to publish their research through a dedicated journal, GEOverse, and has been involved in multidisciplinary national conferences and events in parliament to share impactful student research.

Professor Walkington continues: “Society’s need for expert communicators, and a greater understanding of the world around us, is critical. I look forward to continuing with my teaching and research collaborations in helping to ensure this need is met.”  

The Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers, is the learned society and professional body for geography and formed in 1830. This year the Society’s medals and awards recognise 21 different people for their outstanding contributions to geography.

They are presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding achievements and Professor Walkington will join a prestigious list that includes Sir Alexander Burnes, David Livingstone, Alfred Russel Wallace, Captain R. Scott and more recently Professor Diana Liverman and Sir David Attenborough.

The awards will be presented on Monday 4 June as part of the Society’s Annual General Meeting in London.  

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor at Oxford Brookes University, said: “Students at Oxford Brookes benefit greatly from Helen’s expertise and enthusiasm which is informed by the pioneering research she undertakes. On behalf of the University I congratulate Helen on this award which is richly deserved and a testament to her inspirational teaching.”

The popular Geography course at Oxford Brookes explores contemporary issues that affect our everyday lives such as globalisation, sustainability, environmental management, conservation, geoarchaeology, nature and society, the problems of contemporary cities, and culture and landscape, as well as alternative ways of solving the problems associated with them.

Find out more about studying Geography at Oxford Brookes via the Department of Social Sciences webpages.

Further information on Professor Helen Walkington is available on her profile page.