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20th October 2016, 3:20pm
New School of Geography to help map out future for a safe and healthy inhabited Earth
New School of Geography to help map out future for a safe and healthy inhabited Earth The UK’s newest academic department for teaching and research in Geography will lead the way in advancing knowledge of the inhabited Earth, environmental health, water and climate change.

The new School of Geography at the University of Lincoln, UK, will welcome its first students in September 2017. It will be led by the founding Head of School, Professor Mark Macklin - an award-winning physical geographer and authority on river systems and global environmental change.

Professor Macklin, who comes to Lincoln from Aberystwyth University where he was Chair and Professor of Physical Geography, will also oversee the development of the Lincoln Centre for Water and Planetary Health (LCWPH). This pioneering new research centre will focus on solving the most pressing global environmental and societal problems emerging from the world’s largest rivers. These include climate change impacts on extreme floods and droughts, flood-related contamination from metal mining and processing, and water-borne and vector-borne diseases affecting humans and animals.

Speaking about the development of teaching and research in this subject area, Director of the Royal Geographical Society, Dr Rita Gardner CBE, said: "Reflecting the remarkable strength of school and university Geography in the UK, the establishment of an entirely new School of Geography at the University of Lincoln, and the allied Lincoln Centre for Water and Planetary Health, represents one of the most significant investments in UK university Geography for a generation.”

The new School of Geography will become an important part of the University’s College of Science and will be dedicated to the study of a safe and healthy inhabited earth.

Professor Macklin explained: “With studies focusing on the inhabited Earth – not so much the polar, glacierized or desert Earth – our work will promote the creation of healthy and safe environments in the places that we live. For years academic communities have been studying climate change and what it is doing to our world, but now it is time to look at the actions we need to take.

“Our School will take the ’long view’, recognising that ours is not the first civilization to confront environmental problems. This will enable us to set the present challenge of climate change in an important historical context and educate our students in the concepts and skills that are relevant to managing current environmental challenges. They will develop a sound working knowledge of physical hazards such as floods, droughts, soil loss, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, biological hazards arising from diseases such as malaria, and social hazards arising from deprivation, warfare and crime.

“The new Lincoln Centre for Water and Planetary Health will also ensure that all undergraduate and postgraduate teaching is evidence-based and informed by the best research.”

On a global scale, there is currently no complete assessment of the present status of the world’s largest rivers, the conflicting demands on them, and their likely response to climate change. The Lincoln Centre for Water and Planetary Health has been established to fill this globally-significant knowledge gap. The research centre will aim to bring about a step change in water, health and sustainability science by bringing together experts across a range of disciplines – from disease ecology, microbiology, and social science, to computer science, geochemistry, and global health.

Professor Macklin, who also holds the Chair of Fluvial Geomorphology at Massey University in New Zealand, is the founding Director of the research centre. He is renowned for his work into river channel and floodplain responses to climate change, long-term human-river environment interactions, flood-risk assessment, metal mining pollution, and the hydrological controls of malaria. He conducts his research all over the world, with ongoing projects in Australia, Greece, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Sudan, Tanzania and the UK. In 2014, Professor Macklin was elected as an inaugural Fellow of the British Society for Geomorphology in recognition of his significant contribution to the advancement of geomorphological research.

Professor Andrew Hunter, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Lincoln, said: “Geography is an essential subject for the 21st century, and this new School represents a wonderful addition to the University’s portfolio. It fits our wider strategy for interdisciplinary work, complementing our scientific expertise in areas such as agri-food technology, microbiology and sensors, and our social science work in areas including rural geography and forensic anthropology. We are delighted to have in Professor Macklin a world-renowned geographer as founder of the new School.”

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