Sec Gen of OS inspires geographers

As part of the Speakers for Schools initiative, AS Geography students at Alton College were treated to a fascinating and inspirational talk given by Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, Secretary General of Ordnance Survey International, she is also Co-Chair of United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management. ‘How Geography runs the world: from Smart Cities to Sustainable Development’ gave the students insight into how geography is used across all aspects of everyday life, even where you wouldn’t expect it. She outlined the ways in which geography can be used by the government, police, highways agency, utility companies, councils, the NHS, citizens, insurance companies and many more with detailed case studies. Of particular interest was her personal involvement in the planning and mapping of all locations involved in the London 2012 Olympics and the torch relay, work on which began five years prior to the event.

After the talk, Dr Lawrence answered questions from the students and gave them some great advice. ‘If somebody else sees talent in you, even if you can’t see it in yourself, I strongly advise you to listen.’ She also suggested that they ‘be cheerful, positive and passionate in all that you do.’ Dr Lawrence said she enjoys being part of the Speakers for Schools project: ‘I love talking to the next generation of people who will be running the country. It is really important and exciting for me.’

Student Jennifer Bonwitt (previously at Amery Hill) who is planning on going onto study Geography at university commented that it was ‘really interesting hearing about the different aspects of geography and their links to maths and physics, and also learning about how geography can affect economic growth both in the developed world and less developed countries.’

Amy Bleakley (previously at Bohunt School) is also planning on studying Geography at university, she said that it was a great opportunity for the students to experience such an interesting speaker with such diverse knowledge and ‘finding out about the great depths to the behind the scenes activities involved in things like the Olympics and how they relate to geography was fascinating.’

Following the visit to the College, Dr Lawrence invited Amy Bleakley and Aime Jones (previously at Weydon School) to visit the Royal Geographical Society in London. Aime Jones has won a place as part of a team of only four students who will travel to Russia in August 2015 to represent the UK at the International Geography Olympiad.  Read more about them here:

Fiona Webb, Teacher of Geography, said that the talk was an ‘inspirational, eye-opening insight into how geography affects everyday life and was an excellent demonstration of applied geography at its highest level. She added: ‘Actually one in three of our Geography students are inspired to study the subject at university, which is testament to the course here at Alton College’.

Find out more about studying Geography at Alton College here.