Curriculum Development: Producing Geographers for the 21st Century

Angharad Saunders, Robin A. Lewis, Michaela Buenemann, Paul C. Sutton, W. Brian Whalley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT We take a fresh look at geography curricula and their appropriateness to the demands of the 21st century. We reflect on the purpose, content and relevance of undergraduate geography curricula in an age of ‘supercomplexity’. Geography curricula, by their nature, are varied and multiple, with different countries often privileging different types of geographical knowledge and skills. The paper emerges from a group of US and UK geographers and so focuses mainly upon Anglo- American geographical traditions. We highlight the need to provide generic and employability skills as part of the rapidly changing requirements into which geographical skills and knowledge need to be integrated. The knowledge base may well change according to circumstances (for example, adaptation to environmental change) that will require geographers to be able to contribute to the community and thereby enhance the overall stature of geography. A geographical outlook, reflecting space and change, remains at the heart of geography and can provide a unique selling point for its study. Graduates will need to promote their geographical knowledge and skills in order to cope with employment possibilities, so instructors will need to diversify their teaching methods to embrace active learning and problem-orientated approaches to the delivery of geographical curricula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379 - 393
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geography in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • geography curricula
  • undergraduate education
  • geographical skills
  • geographical knowledge
  • spatial studies


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