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Geography in the British Association for the Advancement of Science

S. H. Beaver
The Geographical Journal
Vol. 148, No. 2 (Jul., 1982), pp. 173-181
Published by: geographicalj
DOI: 10.2307/633769
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/633769
Page Count: 9
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Geography in the British Association for the Advancement of Science
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Abstract

The British Association was founded in 1831; geography was at first of little importance, being included in the Geology Section, but in 1851 it was accorded a Section of its own. This paper traces the story of Section E over 130 years. In the nineteenth century, with a secretariat, and often a President, too, provided by the Royal Geographical Society, it was largely concerned with the advancement of geographical science through exploration and travel. The first decade of the twentieth century witnessed the beginnings of 'academic' geography, and the Section was taken over by university geographers. Exploration and description were replaced, between the wars, by Presidential Addresses which were often reviews of the academic discipline and its functions, and by research papers presented by university lecturers. Local studies, and excursions, became an integral part of each annual meeting. Signs of change appeared in the mid-1950s, with structured symposia tending to replace the miscellaneous research topics, and a changing audience in the Section as the Institute of British Geographers 'captured' the academics. The changing character of the subject in universities, in the 1960s and 1970s, with increasing emphasis on theory, model-building and quantification, and the near-abandonment of regional geography, has not been closely reflected in Section E programmes, which must cater for more general interests, for the junior section of the Association (British Association Young Scientists), and must present to the general scientific public, in jargon-free language, symposia and reports on regions and themes of current interest.

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