Archived News 2016

Book Launch: Planetary Gentrification (2016, Polity Press)

To celebrate the launch of a new book Planetary Gentrification by Loretta Lees, Hyun Bang Shin and Ernesto Lopez-Morales, join us on the evening of Wednesday 16 March for a special launch event in the Room PAR.LG.03, Parish Building, LSE.

Authors: Loretta Lees (University of Leicester), Hyun Bang Shin (LSE) and Ernesto Lopez-Morales (University of Chile, Santiago)

Discussants: Fulong Wu (UCL), Andrew Harris (UCL) and Alex Loftus (KCL)

Date and Time: 16 March 2016, 5.30pm - 8.00pm
Room: PAR.LG.03, Parish Building, LSE
Maps and Directions:

Registration closing date: 29th February (or until places are filled; limited places available). Register to attend.

Supported by:
Department of Geography and Environment, LSE;
Department of Geography, University of Leicester;
CITY: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action

Book Description
This is the first book in Polity's new 'Urban Futures’ series.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, proclamations rang out that gentrification had gone global. But what do we mean by 'gentrification' today? How can we compare 'gentrification' in New York and London with that in Shanghai, Johannesburg, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro? This book argues that gentrification is one of the most significant and socially unjust processes affecting cities worldwide today, and one that demands renewed critical assessment.

Drawing on the 'new' comparative urbanism and writings on planetary urbanization, the authors undertake a much-needed transurban analysis underpinned by a critical political economy approach. Looking beyond the usual gentrification suspects in Europe and North America to non-Western cases, from slum gentrification to mega-displacement, they show that gentrification has unfolded at a planetary scale, but it has not assumed a North to South or West to East trajectory the story is much more complex than that.

Rich with empirical detail, yet wide-ranging, Planetary Gentrification unhinges, unsettles and provincializes Western notions of urban development. It will be invaluable to students and scholars interested in the future of cities and the production of a truly global urban studies, and equally importantly to all those committed to social justice in cities.

Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia

Caroline Upton attended a trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in March, where, together with her local partners the Mongolian Society for Range Management (MSRM), she led a high profile meeting at the Mongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism.
Pastures, Conservation and Climate Action, Mongolia

Ambassador’s Reception: British Ambassador to Mongolia Catherine Arnold, with project team members.

This event, attended by government ministers, policy makers, community organisations and representatives from a range of donor organisations, highlighted the new conservation, livelihood and climate change initiative developed by Caroline and MSRM and now being rolled out across Mongolia. With support from Darwin Initiative funding, the team has worked with herders’ community organisations to develop locally relevant strategies for supporting herders’ traditional environmental knowledges and practices, whilst simultaneously enhancing carbon sequestration in grasslands.  The scheme is a first for Mongolia and is being widely supported by key policy actors and attracting considerable media interest. Further support was evident from the British Ambassador to Mongolia, who hosted an evening reception for the project, with some 100 invited guests from across the scientific, business, civil society and policy communities.

For further information, contact Caroline Upton.

Geographer to receive national award for promoting diversity in teaching

A University of Leicester geographer’s efforts to bring the subjects of race and diversity into geography education have been recognised by a prestigious professional body.
Geographer to receive national award for promoting diversity in teaching

Dr Margaret Byron

Dr Margaret Byron from the University of Leicester Department of Geography is this year’s recipient of the Taylor & Francis Award from the Royal Geographical Society, awarded for excellence in the promotion and practice of diversity in the teaching of Human Geography.

These are part of a series of awards that recognise extraordinary achievement in geographical research, fieldwork and teaching, photography and public engagement.

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s prestigious medals and awards recognise excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement. They are presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding achievements.

Dr Margaret Byron has lectured in Human Geography since 1992, and at the University of Leicester since 2009. Dr Byron currently chairs the RGS /IBG Race, Culture and Equality (RACE) Working Group, which encourages and undertakes geographical research, activism and curriculum development on race, racism and racial oppression.

Dr Byron said: “I am delighted to receive this award but I would stress that I receive it, not for myself, but on behalf of all those in Human Geography in Britain who have and continue to work very hard to achieve a discipline that is genuinely inclusive and particularly all those who supported the move to establish the RACE working group.

“I have been acutely aware of and concerned about the underrepresentation of several elements of British society in the discipline in the ranks of students and staff. This extends through certain classes in society to minority ethnic groups. I always felt that I could do little things like encouraging students to stay on the degree when they felt too much like outsiders but that we needed a much bigger push from the discipline itself to change things. Much has happened to make the discipline of geography a more inclusive space but race and ethnicity remained relatively undiscussed.

“I think that it makes things easier when struggles are recognised. I know that our department is committed to widening participation and hopefully this will encourage colleagues to think even more comprehensively about the experience of students and staff who enter the discipline and to enable them to feel part of the narrative that we, as a department, construct.”

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “I am delighted that the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers has conferred the Taylor & Francis Award for excellence in in the promotion and practice of diversity in the teaching of human geography to Margaret. I wish to congratulate her personally for all of her hard work, dedication and commitment in addressing diversity in her teaching role.”

Professor Kevin Tansey, Head of the Department of Geography, said: “This is wonderful news for Margaret, the Department and the University. Margaret is a wonderful teacher, mentor and supporter of student learning. She has a special gift when it comes to teaching the next generation of human geographers and I am delighted that this has been recognised by the RGS-IBG with this award.”

This year, the Society’s medals and awards recognise twenty-one different people for their outstanding contributions to geography.

Recipients this year include Bob Geldof KBE and Professor Michael Storper, who have been awarded the Society’s two Royal Medals. Dr Wendy Darke, Head of the BBC Natural History Unit, is also awarded the Cherry Kearton Medal and Award for cinematography of the natural world.

The awards will be presented on Monday 6 June 2016 as part of the Society’s Annual General Meeting in London. Photos of the winners will be available on the day from the RGSIBG press office.

STFC fully funded PhD opportunity

'Development of Raman Spectroscopy for Mars: an inter-disciplinary approach'

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Carr

This project is open to UK applicants only due to residency restrictions set by the Research Councils.


The purpose of this PhD is to support the development of instrumentation for forthcoming Mars missions. ExoMars in particular will be equipped with a miniature Raman Laser spectrometer (RLS), designed to detect organic biomarkers, particularly UV-protective pigments, and their inorganic matrix. This project will test and develop these instruments using terrestrial Mars analogues from hyper-arid deserts. Several desert environments have been proposed as “Mars analogues” (Fairén et al., 2010, Hutchinson et al., 2014). These provide key opportunities to develop and test new instrumentation designed to detect life (or its remains) on planetary surfaces (Navarro-Gonzalez et al., 2003; Edwards et al., 2012). Hyper-arid environments also allow us to test the limits of life on Earth via an understanding of the habits of extremophile organisms and the functioning of the soil C and N cycles under extreme aridity.

View full details

Carr PhD
Figure 1: A: The Namib Desert: a seemingly lifeless landscape covered by a biogenic crust (B). C: Desert Varnish in the Mojave Desert; these rock coatings, purportedly also present on Martian rocks, on Earth preserve detectable organic matter (Malherbe et al, 2014).

72% of Leicester Geography 2016 graduates receive a 1st or a 2.1 degree

The Department of Geography at the University of Leicester is delighted to announce that 72% of our graduating cohort this year achieved a 1st and a 2.1 Honours degree. 22% of our graduates received a 2.2.

Professor Kevin Tansey, Head of Department, said, ‘I wish to congratulate our finalists for their hard work over the past three or four years that has resulted in the award of their degree. Our geographers should be extremely proud of their achievements that will hopefully provide the launch pad to an exciting and rewarding career. I look forward to congratulating our graduates in person on the 12th July at their graduation ceremony’.

Geography undergraduates at Leicester read for a 3 year programme or a 4 year programme that includes a year abroad in Europe, North America or Australia. Their programmes include a number of opportunities to study in the field in places like the Amazon rainforest, New York, Spain, Dartmoor and Corby. The University appoints External Examiners, senior academics from reputable UK institutions, to play a major role in ensuring the academic standards and awards of the University.

Professor Paul Hughes of the University of Southampton and External Examiner for our Bachelors of Science (BSc.) degree programmes said, ‘The programme at Leicester is really exciting and interesting. If I was choosing to study Physical Geography, I would certainly look at Leicester’.

Professor Anoop Nayak of Newcastle University and External Examiner for our Bachelors of Arts (BA) degree programmes said, ‘The creativity of work coming from Leicester’s human geographers should be celebrated. The quality of the student dissertation, in particular, shows a strong engagement with theoretical frameworks and critical methodologies’.

Professor Kevin Tansey, Head of Department, said, ‘Geographers can make significant contributions to a number of important issues that society is facing. These include climate change, globalisation, changing geo-political landscapes, development and sustainable futures. We are indebted to all the geography school teachers who generate interest within children. What does the future look like for our geographers? The answer is excellent. Our most recent data from the 2014 graduating cohort shows that 94% of graduates are now in work or further study. The percentage of graduates taking on managerial or senior positions 6 months after graduation in 2014 saw a huge 164% increase on the previous year. This positively reflects the leadership and managerial skills that students develop while studying the Department’s courses’.

Further information about the department and the courses that are offered can be found here:

Undergraduate Interviewed on BBC Radio Jersey

Third year Undergraduate Student Chloe Knight has been interviewed by local media in jersey about her dissertation research on the impacts the system has on the financial decisions of students wishing to attend university in the UK.

Chloe was determined to study something within Jersey, where she is from, for her dissertation. The unusual higher education student finance system there took her interest and she has decided to study it from a Human Geography perspective. Chloe's aim is to research the impacts the system has on the financial decisions of students wishing to attend university in the UK, and also the economic impacts those decisions have on Jersey. Primary research has involved a survey and interviews. Her research has come at a time when the subject of higher education funding is constantly in the news, both in the UK and in Jersey and Chloe has been fortunate enough to attract some attention from the local media, both the Bailiwick Express, who wrote an article about her survey and BBC Radio Jersey who invited Chloe to talk on the radio about her study. Both of these have been amazing opportunities for Chloe not just to publicise her research but to engage with new people and improve other skills such as public speaking.

Listen to Chloe's BBC Radio Jersey interview on BBC iplayer (2:23:10)

New ESRC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Human Geography at the University of Leicester has been accredited as a doctoral training pathway within a new regional Doctoral Training Partnership announced by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership will be based at the University of Warwick and included the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, in addition to the University of Leicester. The partnership’s human geography pathway will be delivered by the University of Birmingham and the University of Leicester.

The Midlands Graduate School DTP is one of 14 new doctoral training partnerships nationally. It has been accredited by the ESRC for a six year period from October 2017. The partnership will be allocated a proportion of the ESRC’s 500 PhD studentships annually.

Dr Gavin Brown, the Postgraduate Tutor for Geography, said:
“We are very excited to be part of the new ESRC Midlands Graduate School DTP. It is a major recognition of the strength and significance of the social science research undertaken by the Critical and Creative Geography Research Group in our department. Human Geographers are very well-placed to respond to some of the major global challenges facing humanity – whether you wish to study environmental governance and social justice, planetary gentrification and the displacement of low income communities, or the effects of major geopolitical events (such as the EU referendum) on people’s everyday lives, Leicester Geography is an excellent department in which to undertake your doctoral studies”.

Full details of the application process and deadlines for Midlands Graduate School ESRC studentships will be posted on this website in due course. In the meantime, if you are interested in studying for a PhD in Human Geography at Leicester, please check out our research interests and get in touch with a potential supervisor.

Leicester academics to hold cooperation talks with Chinese Institutions over Space and Earth Observation Research

Professor Kevin Tansey, Head of the Department of Geography and Professor of Earth Observation to host a delegation and further visit China in September to promote cooperation in Space and Earth Observation research.
Leicester academics to hold cooperation talks with Chinese Institutions over Space and Earth Observation Research

Professor Kevin Tansey (centre) with members of the delegation from Shandong Institute of Aerospace Electro-Technology (SIAE) on the University campus.

The University of Leicester is delighted to welcome a delegation from the Chinese Shandong Institute of Aerospace Electro-Technology (SIAE). The visit, led by Professor Zhang Yutu, Vice-President of the Institute, will take place between the 13 and 15 of September 2016. The purpose of the visit is to hold discussions over future cooperation in research into Space and Earth Observation. The University of Leicester has recently established a Research Institute in Space and Earth Observation (LISEO) and the visit will offer the opportunity to showcase some of the world-leading research being undertaken by Leicester academics promote. Professor Kevin Tansey, who is hosting the visit, said ‘I am looking forward to welcoming our Chinese colleagues. I first met with representatives of SIAE at the 2014 and 2015 UK-China space workshops that were been held in Shanghai and Newbury respectively. I hope the visit is the start of a period of cooperation and collaboration’. The delegation will meet with Professor Paul O’Brien, Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science and Professor Heiko Balzter, Director of the Centre of Landscape and Climate Research during their visit.

The following week, Professor Tansey will make the return journey to China. He has been invited through the prestigious Chinese SAFEA programme (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) to visit Peking University. The programme also supports a visit by Dr Marc Padilla, one of Professor Tansey's Research Associates. Professor Tansey said ‘Dr Marc Padilla and I have been invited by Professor Lei Yan, Head of Beijing Key Laboratory of Spatial Information Integration and its Applications, to hold discussions around our respective research interests and to identify future funding opportunities. These research interests include mapping forest and forest disturbance, and advancing remote sensing technology in agriculture.’

Lecture to launch the Centre for Critical and Creative Geographies

The Everyday Geopolitical: Revisiting Minor Theory with the Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute Professor Cindi Katz, City University of New York

When: Wednesday 12 October at 6pm
Bennett Building, Lecture Theatre 1

Tea and coffee will be available in the Bennett Foyer from 5.30pm


Minor theory is a way of doing theory differently, of working inside out, of fugitive moves and emergent practices interstitial with ‘major’ productions of knowledge. To ‘do’ minor theory is to make conscious use of displacement so that new subjectivities, spatialities, and temporalities might be marked and produced in spaces of betweenness that reveal the limits of the major as it is transformed along with the minor. Inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of ‘minor literature,’ I wrote about minor theory twenty years ago causing a ‘minor’ stir, but little else.  In the past year or so the idea of the minor has surfaced in several places.  Asking what might underlie this ‘surgence’ of interest, I will look at some of the political, social, cultural relations and conditions of contemporary Geography and in the worlds we inhabit to think about what possibilities minor theory offers for thinking and acting differently in the face of growing economic inequality at all scales, persistent violence against people of color, intensifying environmental crises, joblessness, and social relations of production and reproduction that remain exploitive and oppressive in their articulations of race, class, gender, and sexuality.  I will discuss the Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute as an example of minor theory and practice to think alongside its accomplishments, failures, and fables to see what they might have to say about present field imaginaries and possibilities for radical practice in and outside geography.

Download Event Poster (pdf)

Research Seminar

Wednesday 26 October 2016, 4.00pm

Natural Forest Disturbances in the Rain Forests of Central and South America

Dr Fernando Espírito-Santo
Lancaster Environment Centre
(LEC) at University of Lancaster

Venue: G02, Centre for Landscape and Climate Change (CLCR), Bennett Building

Download poster (.pdf)

A bird's-eye view of forests: what fresh insights can ecologists gain from airborne remote sensing?

Research Seminar

Wednesday 9 November 2016, 4pm

Professor David Coomes

Department of Plant Science, University of Cambridge

G02, CLCR, Bennett Building

Download event poster (.pdf)

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