Restoring geography as a compulsory school subject

 

Sir, – As this is Geoweek, as heads of geography departments in Ireland we would like to comment on some current events. Recent weeks and months have witnessed a range of widespread “natural” disasters, from unprecedented wildfires in Australia and California, to the flooding of Venice and devastating drought in Zimbabwe.

While there is an acknowledged distinction between weather (one-off events) and climate (changes in weather patterns) it is becoming increasingly clear that the effects of people-made climate disruption, or potential climate departure, are catastrophic.

As climate disruption effects, such as mass protests, forced migrations and increased social unrest, are at a nascent stage, we may expect the worst is yet to come.

In order to understand and redress such issues it is vital that we as a society, and particularly our young people, have an understanding of both the social and physical processes leading to such outcomes.

Only then will we realise the necessary consciousness as a country and as part of global society to redress, to mediate and hopefully reverse such trends. This calls for increased training and teaching in the subject of geography.

However to-date our Government remains committed to its course of removing geography as a compulsory subject from the Junior Certificate.

Ireland became the second country in the world to declare a climate emergency, at the same time as we continue to breach our international commitments on emissions.

The climate and associated humanitarian emergencies globally require action rather than rhetoric.

Restoring geography as a compulsory subject will be an important step in showing such commitment and educating leaders of the future so that we may prevent or avoid the worst effects of irreparable climate change. – Yours, etc,

Dr PÁDRAIG CARMODY,

Head of Geography, TCD;

Dr KEVIN LYNCH, Head of

Geography, NUIG; Prof

JACKY CROKE, Head of

Geography, UCD; Dr SARA

BENETTI, Head of

Geography, UU; Dr KIERAN

HICKEY, Head of

Geography, UCC; Prof DES

McCAFFERTY, Head of

Geography, MIC UL; Prof

GERRY KEARNS,

Head of Geography, MU, C/o

Dublin 2.