New Geographies : New Curriculum
PC (Post Coronavirus) School Geographies
‘Geography, like all dynamic areas of disciplinary thought, is
in a constant state of becoming’.
(Lambert & Morgan, 2010)
Early May 2020
Image source: https://stip.oecd.org/Covid.html
Alan Parkinson’s text shared under CC license
Moments of crisis, such as the one we are living, are deeply painful in ways
that cannot be underestimated. The social and emotional impacts of Covid-19
will be felt even after we return to normal global health conditions. We will
emerge, albeit more slowly, from the unprecedented economic paralysis. The
question is how we emerge: whether we return to the ways of the past or
whether we derive valuable lessons, to emerge wiser and better equipped to
continue to deal with our longstanding emergency of climate change.
The coronavirus tragedy has shown that we are only as safe as the most
vulnerable among us and that cross-border threats require global, systemic
solutions, as well as individual behaviour changes. Over the past few weeks,
governments and businesses have acted swiftly to mandate drastic, but
necessary measures to stem the coronavirus, keeping people indoors,
grounding air travel, cancelling events and closing borders. Citizens, equally,
are uniting to shift their behaviour en masse, by working and teaching their
children from home, washing their hands more frequently, protecting the
elderly, and helping neighbours shop for food.
The same decisive spirit is needed in the climate crisis. We need both
significant government policies and important personal behaviour changes.
Governments will need to intentionally design economic recovery packages
that support the most vulnerable and promote innovation and clean
technologies as the moving force of the economy, while removing subsidies
from polluting industries.
Individuals will need to change their diets, consumption patterns and travel
behaviour. We have learned that every person’s individual effort actually does
The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed humanity’s instinct to transform itself in
the face of a universal threat and it can help us do the same to create a
livable planet for future generations.
Christiana Figueres, former chair of UNFCCC
Source of the quote:
Introduction p. 5
Thinking through the changes p. 9
Geographical themes and possible changes p. 11
Physical Geography topics
1. Landscape processes and change p. 11
2. Land use p. 12
3. Weather and climate / air quality p. 13
4. Tectonics p. 15
5. Our relationship with nature p. 15
6. Plate Tectonics p. 17
At the interface between physical and human
7. Climate Change p. 17
Human Geography topics
8. Urbanisation p. 18
a) Urban spaces and hierarchies (and the return of communities)
b) LIC urban areas
c) Sounds of the city
d) Future urban structures
e) The role of neighbourhoods
f) Urban resilience
9. Employment: primary, secondary and tertiary p. 24
b) Gig Economy
d) Service sector
e) Garment workers
f) Supply chains
h) Corporate social responsibility
i) The death of the Office as a workplace
j) The social contract
10.Development and Inequality p.36
11.Changing leisure time and working hours p.40
13.Globalisation & Geopolitics p.42
14.Carbon footprints p.44
18.Geographies of Convenience p.51
19.Sustainable Development Goals p.52
20.Food Security p.54
21.Superpowers: Hard and Soft Power p.55
22.Sense of Place p.55
24.New communities p.56
25.Surveillance (link to D3 Erasmus project) p.57
26.Geography of Disease p.57
Geographical Skills and Tools
29.Geographical Information Systems (GIS) p.60
30.Statistical Literacy p.61
Pedagogical Approaches and thinking incl. DPSIR p.62
- Learning outside the classroom p.66
- Teaching about Covid-19 - GeographyalltheWay p.68
An early update for the Specifications? p.69
A better world ahead? p.70
Reading list and References incl. ‘Slowdown’ p.76
Welcome to V3.0 of this document, which has been edited and had additional content
blended in over the last week of April 2020. It’s been two weeks since the first virtual
Geographical Association conference, which was a great success thanks to the team at
Solly St., particularly Harriet Brookes, and President Gill Miller. Thanks to those who have
commented on the resource so far and suggested additional content.
Let’s hope we reach that important moment soon, where R= <1
I’m starting to embolden what I think is particularly valuable content, which
may then feed into a final ‘resource’ outcome.
As those who’ve read previous versions of the document will know, this came about from
some thinking through the weeks of lockdown about the eventual return to school and
teaching back in the classroom at some future point, probably no earlier than September
2020, although some people still think it’s possible to keep 2m away from each other in a
school. Those people obviously haven’t been in a school lately.
I've been thinking in particular about what I/we (as a subject community) will be teaching
in Geography when we do. While writing my biography of every Geographical President on
my GA Presidents Blog at http://gapresidents.blogspot.com I’ve encountered numerous
occasions where the subject has changed in response to particular events or new ways of
thinking. This pandemic will have an impact on many geographical topics, and places that
are studied at all key stages, and may result in another ‘turn’ in the subject.
For the GCSE and ‘A level (and equivalent) exam specifications, they will remain as they are
- there have been no plans to change them, no consultations on those changes, and
probably no desire to either. A little more clarity over examination results for this year has
been published, with predicted grades and other data being used to provide grades for 2020,
but students (who may not have been at school for 6 months by then) may choose to sit
rescheduled exams at a later date if they feel their grades weren’t a true reflection of their
ability, or want to take the chance to improve or simply to have the experience that they
might otherwise miss out on.
One issue is that some of the geography in these specifications will have
changed out of all recognition by the time we return, as will many of the topics
taught lower down the school.
In my final week at school before I self-isolated in mid-March, I was teaching what had
previously seemed to be ‘important’ topics but was constantly thinking as each day passed
“this doesn’t really matter anymore…” or rather that the context had changed and meant
they were not as significant. This is significant as a choice to teach a particular topic at KS3
means a decision not to teach something else. It also has a bearing on the powerful
knowledge students are introduced to, and then encouraged to explore further.
To give one example, jobs which we previously thought of as being important to protect in
the garment industry may well be swept away by the cancellation of contracts, and the
contraction of the industry. The close confinement of sweatshop workers would also
increase their vulnerability to the virus, and stories soon started of desperate workers
travelling to find work and having to face impossible decisions: to continue working, or to
It was also a reminder that some people in the UK, who may have voted for political
decisions which tried to stop migrants from making the effort to escape war zones, were now
struggling to cope with the fact that the pubs were shut and they might have to stay at home
and read a book, or were fighting over toilet roll and preventing those who had worked all
day to save lives from buying the basics for themselves.
Here then is a chance to challenge the status quo.
What we are likely to be teaching when we return will need to be adjusted. I’m already
thinking that I want to ‘firm up’ the geography in what I teach, and reflect the changes that
will have happened during school closure/lockdown and remove some of what could be
called the more ‘trivial’ geographies that are in the National Curriculum and other school
based curricula which (I and others) have developed over recent years. John Morgan also
referred to these as ‘zombie geographies’.
A few themes have emerged over the last few weeks in the growing number of items I've
been reading for what may also become some ‘new geographies’ or even new theories of
the way that things work in future economies and society.
I’ve started to pull together some thoughts and ideas and will eventually create some new
curriculum materials for the return to school in some format for our new PC Geography
curriculum. These ideas are also feeding into a book that I am currently writing on why
I am not an academic geographer, and I would guess that geography academics in their
different geographical specialist areas are also currently thinking about their own area of
expertise and how it may change their teaching too. I’ve come across a few of those ideas,
but I would love to hear from you if you have started developing your own ideas in this area
and have made a start on your own thinking, or have identified some of these stories
emerging in the media, or via your own social media contacts.
I was also reminded of this cartoon that I was sent - source unknown - but from a cartoonist
This reminds us of another coming catastrophe which we will similarly need concerted global
action to fight. I’ll return to that at the end of the document.
The climate emergency will require even more concerted global action, and this must
be a major element of the new curriculum. With the cancellation of COP26 which the
UK was due to host, this has built in further delays into the world getting together to
solve this crisis which is far more ‘visible’ and urgent to many.
Also, will we actually want to teach about Coronavirus (preferring to try to forget it about
it, particularly if our family or friends have been touched by tragedy, and inevitably those of
our students and colleagues). Is it too raw for a while to be an object of study, or is it
something that we just should be teaching? Just as earthquake drills are taught and
practised in earthquake-prone areas, perhaps we will need to cover pandemics and their
spread so that we are ready to act more promptly if there are further similar events in the
future. Lessons are being learned currently, so should these lessons also be learned (and
I do not intend teaching about Covid-19 as a topic, even if it is an excellent
opportunity to show a GIS Dashboard which has almost a billion views every day.
What about some of the other topics we’ve traditionally taught which are also
potentially problematic for some students and colleagues.
Should we be more empathetic, and focus on more positives? I’ll explore that idea
It’s worth remembering that the risk of Pandemic influenza has always been there. Do we
use this to explore topics like resilience, and disaster management - the Sendai Framework
I was reminded by someone who posted a section of Hans Rosling’s essential ‘Factfulness’
book - what a huge pity it is that Hans is not here to guide our response and
work with WHO as he did during the Ebola outbreak that he helped with in
Hear him talking so clearly about the work here:
In it, he describes a number of things that we should be concerned about and Pandemic is
there alongside Global Warming.
There’s also an understanding of the
risk of Pandemics in the
Government’s own Risk Register -
something I referred to previously in a
unit we taught on risk.
Here’s an image taken from the 2017
version of the document, which
Brendan Conway reminded me of
recently, which has pandemics
illustrated at the top of the intensity
scale. And yet knowing this, few
preparations were made, and vital
equipment wasn’t stockpiled when it
should have been.
There has been a lot talked about the climate crisis, and the actions of Greta Thunberg and
others to popularise and publicise the desperate need for change have started to galvanise
young people, and geography is the appropriate place for this to happen in the school
I’d like to see more personal action being part of the Geography curriculum: practising
what we are preaching perhaps. Our lockdown means an end to many of the practices that
we have become used to: easy consumption, take-away coffees, pub lunches, air travel,
clothes shopping etc.
Geography is firmly back on the agenda, as outlined in this essential Wired piece by
https://www.wired.com/story/amid-pandemic-geography-returns-with-a-vengeance/ - not that
it ever went away, or had vengeance in mind of course..
Pandemic throws the importance of space back into sharp relief.” We’re
thinking about it at the smallest scale, navigating supermarket aisles or
converting closets into serviceable home offices.
The curriculum needs to be considered as a process, and a continual work in
progress. My curriculum is always changing from year to year. Rosalind Walker reminds us
of this in this well written piece:
And this week, Dylan Wiliam spoke to ResearchED about the overloading in the curriculum.
He said, quoted in the TES:
"There is no doubt that there’s far too much stuff in our curriculum – I’ve wondered about
why this is, and my conclusion is that curriculum developers cannot bear the thought that
any children might have spare time on their hands.
"So they actually make sure there’s enough stuff in the curriculum for the fastest-learning
students to be occupied all year. And so there’s far too much for most students … some
teachers just teach the curriculum, they metre it out and they go from beginning to end and
20 percent of the kids get it and the rest don’t – I think that’s logically consistent but immoral.
"When the curriculum’s too full, you have to make a professional decision about what
stuff you’re going to leave out, and the important point here is that not all content is
So perhaps now is the time to drop some of that ‘trivial’ stuff I mentioned earlier to
make space for greater thinking about futures and a changed world.
With that in mind, it’s time to get on with the geographical thinking and curriculum
making for Post-Corona Geographies.
Thinking through the changes
One of the prompts that initially got me started on the production of this document was a
tweet from Helen Young: the original GeographyGeek.
I wondered whether there are indeed studies going on, although fieldwork is going to be
difficult - data collection via Google Form etc. could be possible, and I’ve used some myself.
There was also a Guardian article by Adam Tooze on the link with the economy which was
one of the first I added into v1.0 of this document.
Also this piece by Neal Lawson provided some ideas:
I was also really interested in this piece by Stuart Dunn on the Digital Humanities - he
works in the field of GIS which also connects with the GI Pedagogy ERASMUS project that
will be mentioned later in the document.
Stuart’s post led me to an existing roundup of posts in the same field as this document, but
at a higher level of education:
And some thoughts on separating the signal from the noise from Futures
Further thoughts came from Paul Ganderton on the Facebook group set up to support
Geography Teachers during Covid-19 by Matt Podbury:
Follow Paul Ganderton here: https://twitter.com/ecogeog
GA eConference 2020 Teachmeet
I used the production of this booklet as my theme for the Teachmeet which formed part of
the GA’s eConference 2020 which replaced the face-to-face event due to take place in
Surrey from 16th-18th of April 2020.
I put together a quick 2 minute LOOM video for use in the event.
You can see the link to the video here and watch if you like:
Ben Hennig and Tina Gotthardt at
WorldMapper have been tracking the cases
and producing regularly updated maps and
animations. Check in for the latest maps and
animations. They are all shared under CC
license. You are also able to support their work
if you feel able to.
Geographical Themes and possible changes
These ideas are presented separately, but in reality, a piece of work in a classroom would
need to connect several of these together, and bring in appropriate questions, analysis of
text and images and some sort of final presentation format and review.
A: Physical Geography themes
1. Landscape processes
These will largely be unchanged of course, and may be our refuge with memories of the
landscapes we can visit when we are allowed out, of mountains we want to climb and places
we want to return to after an absence. Several of us may well be making a list of the places
we intend visiting as soon as we are able.
Rivers have continued to behave as always for the last few weeks, and waves have reached
the shore as usual.
Rivers will still flow downhill, and waves will still hit the coat every few seconds.
The landscape can be one permanence in our lives, and in the curriculum… I’m working on
a unit on the development of The Fens as a consequence, to encourage people to get out
into this landscape explained so well by Francis Pryor in his recent book.
Watch this space for links to that new unit.
Landscapes being reclaimed by the wild.
Goats are reclaiming the streets of a Welsh village - coming down from the Great Orme into
Ghost town to goats town - the new kids on the block etc. were the headlines.
This image was excellent - unsure of the source but quite powerful - in time the roads will be
Spanish officials also sprayed a beach with bleach. Not sure if that would speed up chemical
weathering in the area
Many sand dune ecosystems need management including fencing to avoid trampling of the
marram that holds them together. The Maspalomas Dunes on Gran Canaria are apparently
recovering their natural look after years of damage from tourist visitors:
2. Land Use
I would be interested to see how the landscape is changed as a result of decisions made
now and in the period when we are able to move around again.
e.g Agricultural use of land.
Tim Lang book - this came out March 2020 - has it already been overtaken by events?
● Forestry land left unmanaged.
● Reduction in construction projects.
● Floodplain development reduced.
● Housing densities questioned.
Will the UK’s land-use as recorded by Daniel Raven Ellison in
his wonderful ‘The UK in 100 seconds’ be different if he was to
remake it in a few years’ time?
A debate started about opening access to golf courses for open space, which connects with
ideas of public and private land ownership, and rights of way.
There was a similar theme to many stories regarding people travelling to rural areas. Rights
of Way which run close to farms have been chained off, and some politicians have been
forced to resign.
https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-holidays-stoke-rural-fury-135779 - this also relates
to the use of second homes in rural areas and the impact on rural communities, but gives the
story a different dynamic. Thanks to Claire Kyndt for this story. This I think will become more
significant when the lockdown lifts, as people will head to places like Devon and Norfolk, for
example, bringing the virus with them into areas with relatively low population density.
3. Weather and Climate / Air Quality
We could consider the short term impact in carbon reduction and whether it might help any
country towards meeting carbon emission and air quality targets. Europe’s air is certainly
getting clearer: https://twitter.com/i/status/1248669136676425735 (video on this link)
Skies have emptied of planes - will we go back to flying when this is all over?
Will there still be the same number of airlines / competition for flights / cheap flights?
In India, there is a visual sign that the air is clearing as well:
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is concerned about the impact of
Covid-19 on the observation system. It also describes some of the effects of reduced air
traffic which they have already observed, for example in flight observations of temperature
and wind speed are an important part of the observation network.
Also check satellite data here: https://www.lobelia.earth/covid-19
In terms of weather, we are also going to enter the Hurricane season shortly. Imagine the
issues of trying to deal with a disaster (I’ll avoid involving the word ‘natural’ there) with all the
additional complications of the coronavirus.
There may be some short term changes, but not the long term ones required to change the
The lack of human activity has reduced a lot of the background noise which seismometers
have to be calibrated to ignore / account for
There are also fears that other hazards such as earthquakes may happen, and people will
be unable to help each other for risk of infection. This is a real fear as we move into
Hurricane season as mentioned previously.
5. Our relationship with Nature
The closure of so called ‘wet-markets’, which are found all over the world and not just in
China, for the sale of ‘bush meat’ and other animals needs to be stopped to avoid another
pandemic emerging in the future.
At the root of the problem is a social phenomenon called “human-wildlife conflict”. This is
when the interests of humans and the needs of wildlife overlap in a negative way.
In terms of food sourcing, cultural norms over bush meat and wildlife markets may now have
to face more legislation if this does turn out to be the source of the outbreak
iversity-chief-age-of-extinction - biodiversity
There is also a suggestion we may see more wild flowers. Council services are being cut,
and focussing on the vital services, so verge cutting etc. may be stopped.
The people with the closest link with nature perhaps are the indigenous peoples such as
those who live in the rainforest areas such as the Amazon Basin, who live in harmony with
the forest - they are its guardians in many respects - and who practice their faming
techniques which many students will have learned about.
This article suggests the virus may lead to the extinction of some of these groups:
Worth remembering that tackling some issues with landscapes may also reduce risk of future
pandemics - image from UN
There has also been an increase in fly-tipping as council recycling centres are closed.
Many people are also looking for jobs to do, and clearing out their houses and wanting to do
DIY which has created extra waste. Some councils are also burning recycling as there are
fears over virus contamination of card etc.
Costing the Earth on BBC Radio 4 had some thoughts in an episode hosted by Tom Heap
Tom Heap talks through the environmentalissues emerging during the coronavirus pandemic and
asks what the legacy might be. He's joined by climate change expert Dr Tamsin Edwards from King's
College, London to examine the effect of the lockdown.
With millions of people now working from home, planes being grounded and fewer cars on the roads,
what level of environmental improvement has there been, and will that be reversed once our lives
return to normal?
With the help of experts from the fields of climate change, remote working, ecology and environmental
standards, we track the changes in air pollution and global temperature.
What will the return to ‘normal' look like? With the UK aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, Tom asks
whether the pandemic can be seen as a trial run for a zero-carbon world. And, with the international
climate meeting COP26 postponed, Tamsin considers how international climate targets might be
With contributions from Christiana Figueres - architect of the Paris climate agreement, environmental
psychologist Lorraine Whitmarsh, air quality expert David Carslaw, Gina McCarthy of the Natural
Resources Defense Council, business communications specialist Jon Sidwick and Julian Newman
from the Environmental Investigation Agency.
This is likely to be a useful resource and you can download the programme. I like how
Tamsin is introduced as a geographer and Tom also declares himself as a geographer.
It mentions removal of EPA environmental protections in the USA which may lead to further
The world’s oceans are now much quieter places because of the reduction in the
movements of shipping with fewer passenger vehicles e.g. cross channel ferries.
6 .Plate Tectonics
One would expect little change to the layout of countries, although Twitter user Karl Sharro
https://twitter.com/KarlreMarks suggested how the world map would change in this tweeted
At the interface between physical and human, we have several other major
7. Climate Change - the big one!
Climate Change will still need to be at the heart of the curriculum when we
return, perhaps even more so.
The Greenhouse: What We're Learning
I’ve avoided too much on this theme as it’s a whole extra booklet by itself. The reduction in
carbon emissions through industrial closedown and far fewer journeys is obvious.
We’re also likely to see changes to school and hospital meals as a result of supply chains,
but also the drive for less meat - one campaign here is the #20percentlessmeat campaign
which has had some significant success.
About a quarter of the UK’s population eats the food from these caterers
https://www.publicsectorcatering.co.uk/psc100 in a typical working week
Check out the free Harvard Online courses.
This one explores the health impacts of climate change.
Perhaps we at least will see an end to ‘big oil’
A useful podcast for Earth Day 2020 discussing parallels between Coronavirus and Climate
B: Human Geography themes
8. Urbanisation and Urban Spaces
“This was the week our cities died” is the title of this provocative piece which got me going
on some thinking in this regard.
Melbourne is also featured here.
Daniel Whittall suggested we are seeing new iterations of ‘the city’ or ‘urban spaces’ and we
will see another iteration ‘post-covid’.
a) Urban Spaces and Hierarchies (and the return of communities)
Thanks to Claire Kyndt for this link, which started some thinking about the way we use
urban spaces and how we live within them.
Those people who live in rural areas have greater options when it comes to social distancing
and finding a safe space to exercise. I am fortunate, in this respect, to live in a small rural
village, 8 miles from the nearest town but equally that means longer ambulance response
Where we live is influenced by what we can afford.
Lynsey Hanley has produced an essential piece of writing on the class divide here
In it she references another great thinker Joe Moran, in a piece from 2004. She also talks
about the value of public parks and open spaces.
Space – how it’s apportioned, how it’s governed, how it’s made available to some and
denied to others – is always political. The middle classes, accustomed to constant mobility
while valorising the home as a place of comfort and safety, balk at the thought of being
unable to up sticks at will.
It seems that the Bartlett Centre of UCL is also definitely ‘on it’ with some thinking in the sort
of areas that Helen wondered about earlier.
“people survive difficulty by coming together as communities of care, not pulling apart in a
retreat into individualism” OluTimehin Adegbeye, 2020
“Housing is a condition to the right to life” Laia Bonet, 2020
The quotes above are an entry into this piece by Catalina Ortiz and Camillo Boano on
housing as the key infrastructure of care, and the difficulty for many of social distancing in
some housing designs.
The piece is part of a series on Post Covid 19 Urban Futures put together by UCL - a blog
and webinar series.
The Alexandra Panman blog is also excellent:
Inequalities are explored here:
This gives me hope that more work like this is happening in other universities.
Let me know if you spot it and we can add it in.
This piece by Gaby Hinsliff suggests social pods of people as a future model.
b) LIC Urban areas
Will the virus lead to a growing exodus from cities or will people still want to live close to
services (and each other)?
Here’s a South African waste-picker on life under lockdown and the impossibility of
continuing to work without risk.
Diana Mitlin also picked up some of the issues facing cities in the ‘global South’ in this
For those in Kibera, no work means no food, and quarantine is not an option:
Follow Faith Taylor’s work as she maps Covid-19 interventions in the slums of Kibera:
However, could the climate which has caused issues for countries for decades have been a
factor in low numbers of cases?
The Financial Times piece here is definitely worth reading. It is free to read and not
behind the paywall.
The article describes the potential impacts of warmer climate, a lifestyle where people are
outdoors more, measures taken by governments and also the fact that African countries
have the most youthful populations - something we explore with Year 9.
In this pandemic, the mask reveals far more than it hides. It exposes the world’s political
and economic relations for what they are: vectors of self-interest that ordinarily lie
obscured under glib talk of globalisation and openness. For the demagogues who govern so
much of the world, the pandemic has provided an unimpeachable excuse to fulfil their
dearest wishes: to nail national borders shut, to tar every outsider as suspicious, and to act
as if their own countries must be preserved above all others.
c) Sounds of the city
The virus is changing the aural map of cities. Bird song is louder. The skies are quieter.
The Cities and Memory website has been collecting sounds of cities and now has a new
lockdown sounds map to capture cities in these very different circumstances.
https://citiesandmemory.com/covid19-sounds/ - check out some of the sounds.
It also featured on Radio 3’s ‘Late Junction’ programme:
London as an example of ‘changing places’:
d) Future urban structures
ppens-when-the-thing-that-makes-cities-great-also-makes-them-dangerous/ - mentions
Edward Glaeser and the importance of density, and the comments thread is also
Some cities are giving over space to transport other than the car:
Rachael Unsworth mused on the potential for improving things:
It included a quote from this Carbon Brief collection of views:
Also efforts to reduce light pollution in future cities:
And Paris is planning to give less space to cars to help with the 15 minute city idea:
e) The role of neighbourhoods
Social distancing is producing more of an engagement with our personal space and
place currently, and also a recognition of some simple everyday pleasures such as a
walk and meeting friends or going out for a pint:
● Queueing for long periods - a chance to talk, or isolating on mobile phones
● How is this playing out in other countries?
● Spacing in supermarkets changing these everyday interactions and negotiations
● Facebook connections via group to support geographers being made.
A useful piece from Richard Florida on CityLab on the ‘Geography of Coronavirus’:
CityLab also started sharing the first submissions of lockdown maps from readers:
Channel 4 put together a series of scenes showing cities before and after - and I guess there
will also need to be an ‘after after’:
In some countries, houses vary in design. In Japan for example, houses are much smaller
than many other countries. This Reuters piece with excellent graphics explores the issues in
Tokyo for social distancing due to house design: a very pretty piece of work - thanks to
Richard Allaway for this link.
In other urban areas, there are concerns that the closure of public parks is disproportionately
affecting the poorer residents who may not have large gardens to access for exercise,
compared to the more affluent. A report in the Times explored this with regards to
Thanks to Nik Griffith for the tip-off to this report.
Community also comes from sport:
Check out how Google and Apple’s social-distancing maps work:
Compare Apple and Google’s maps. (You can see more of them later in this document)
f) Urban Resilience
Seaside and ex-industrial towns have already had a tough time economically, and they are
now potentially being affected by the impact of the virus.
This Sky News piece suggests they may also be worst hit by these:
Even the city of LA, bastion of the car is apparently turning into a city of walkers
9. Employment: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary
The Economy has changed…
For example, ask students to analyse this cartoon and explain what its meaning is:
Source: Matt Kenyon/The Guardian
I had an email update in early April from Kate Raworth, author of ‘Doughnut Economics’ (a
speaker at the GA Conference in 2019) giving some suggestions for what they were doing
around this area.
Follow @KateRaworth to see what they are doing with regards to their economic thinking.
They are currently working in Amsterdam to apply their doughnut model to the city.
This alone would be enough for a whole unit of work based on some of the starting
questions which Kate outlines here:
They also recorded a chat on pandemic-resistant economics here which may be of
Perhaps growth is no longer the best measurement of development (if it ever was) and
quality of life needs to be adopted:
This is Danny Dorling’s premise in his book ‘Slowdown’, which is a recommended read at the
end of the document.
He has also recorded a podcast on the book with Zoe WIlliams for the Guardian and this is
worth some of your time here:
There’s also a related one on ‘Lockdownonomics’ - one for the dictionary of Covid-19
Employment options for people are changing.
People will also perhaps remember those companies that looked after staff by protecting
them once the lockdown started, and those that didn’t. Furloughing is not going to benefit
people evenly either.
Oxfam’s campaign also reminds us how many people are in danger of being pushed into
This piece also points out the gender imbalance in impact as well.
Women are on the front line of the coronavirus response and are likely to be hardest hit
financially. Women make up 70 percent of health workers globally and provide 75 percent of
unpaid care, looking after children, the sick and the elderly. Women are also more likely to
be employed in poorly paid precarious jobs that are most at risk. More than one million
Bangladeshi garment workers –80 percent of whom are women– have already been laid off
or sent home without pay after orders from western clothing brands were cancelled or
The ILO (International Labour Organisation) is the organisation that is particularly interested
in the impact on labour markets and collects statistics in that area. It’s thoughts on the
potential impacts are here, and would be useful going forward to explore the impacts in a
number of industrial areas.
What follows are some examples of particular industries which may see dramatic change.
An excellent article to start off the retail section. This is a key area for many discussions:
Changing retail patterns, with Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy.
“Supermarkets actually account for only about 60 percent of the food we
[normally] consume,” says Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City
University, London. The rest comes from your Friday fish and chips, your
Saturday brunch, and all those al desko Pret lunches (oh, falafel flatbread,
how we miss thee). “If 40 per cent [of the food supply] is cut off, and 60 per
cent has to deal with 100 per cent, well, you’ve got stress and strains. It’s
“We need to be thinking very carefully about renationalising supply chains, out of resilience
preparedness,” says Lang, the food policy expert. “We’ve developed, over 60 years, a
culture that says, 'I can eat what I like, when I like, and it’ll be cheap forever, and I’ll overeat
as well.' That culture has got to change.” Tropical fruits will disappear from shelves and
seasonal fruits will become so again, thanks to hold-ups at borders due to decreased freight
flights. That means no more strawberries in winter. “Coronavirus is going to take a scythe
through the normality of food."
This Economist Article outlines how Coronavirus rewrote our shopping lists, and also
introduced the German word for hoarding: hamsterkauf.
Amazon meanwhile is benefitting (although in France, they are not allowed to deliver
anything other than essential items)
The High Street may not recover from this setback and we may end up with Amazon and
similar online retailers growing their monopoly. They are taking on many more staff.
Delivery drivers are bringing our purchases to the door.
An excellent NYT piece suggested that we are going to see the end of the department store,
as many were already struggling before this crisis, and we are not shopping in the same
There are limited reads of articles on the New York Times, but I recommend a cheap
subscription to access the pieces (charge it to your departmental budget)
This had an excellent graphic referencing the classic store Macy’s.
Image by Andrew Sondern/New York Times.
There were also mentions of Hudson Yards, an exclusive shopping mall which I visited while
in New York last year, which is likely to be suffering quite a lot.
“The genre is toast, and looking at the other side of this, there are very few who are likely to
survive.” Mark A Cohen
The High St will also be reshaped:
b. Gig Economy
This sector of the economy, which has grown dramatically in recent years, has been
particularly affected by the virus.
Uber - sharing a car not safe - black cabs with screens still relatively OK.
Tube travel in London - still continuing despite difficulty of social distancing.
Food delivery - most take-aways closing, even McDonalds and Nando, but person to
person possible - the local fish and chip shop in the village was still open, but selling off their
potatoes as seeing less trade (I bought a sack)
Uber - released an ad thanking people for staying at home:
Airbnb - this has the potential to return some properties to longer term rentals and may see
a change to the dominance of Airbnb in some city centres.
Picked up in this CityLab article about the longer time impact on airbnb, which is cutting
staff and key staff salaries”
More of us will work from home in the future.
I was interested to see that Uber paid for an ad which didn’t include a single car
c) Agriculture and the Food System
There is a need for more workers to pick food in the UK or it will rot in the fields as the
● Will farming be changed in terms of what is grown?
● Will this see a continued need for migrant workers and visas?
● Will we need a Pick for Britain campaign in the same vein as Dig for Victory?
The Fishing industry is suffering with a loss of overseas shellfish sales and closure of
supermarket fish counters:
Singapore is almost wholly reliant on food imports (around 90% of its food) as it is so small
and urbanised. It is now bringing forward plans to grow more of its own food on rooftop
Only 1% of Singapore is apparently used for growing food at the moment, but that is set to
Similarly, Australia has taken a fresh look at its own agricultural system to increase their self
sufficiency - Sydney Morning Herald piece here:
Consider this very useful model of the Food system from the Centre for Food Policy.
Identify the current stresses that are being placed on elements of this model.
Image source: Centre for Food Policy
The Plant based sector was making good strides before the crisis. This piece is not entirely
without bias but makes a few interesting points with respect to the cost of food..
The rural economy will need help to bounce back as well - will there be changes to the
typical English countryside?:
There is of course one very important food related link and that is the cultural issues behind
the consumption of animals. In some countries, including the USA, there are so called “wet
markets” where animals are sold live. The presence of these markets has been suggested
as one origin for pandemics due to hygiene and other aspects of the operation of these
Some Chinese cities are now banning the sale of meat from dogs and cats it seems, and
there may well be other cultural changes in what meats are consumed. The consumption of
‘bush meat’ such as bats was thought to be a source for the Ebola outbreaks of 2015.
In the middle of April we also saw the first of a series of flights bringing Romanian fruit and
vegetable pickers to the UK:
Remarkably the Daily Mail had this as its cover, after years of front covers denigrating
migrant workers. All those people who wanted to ‘support their country’ and ‘take back
control’ weren’t up to helping it seems when it really mattered.
Food production has been connected with the emergence of new viruses, as well as other
issues. This is an area to develop in the curriculum I would say.
d) Service sector
https://www.ft.com/content/f8e58c8a-de5e-44ac-84c4-dac767e6cfca - service sector has
been badly affected by the lockdown, and also certain sectors placed at increased risk of job
This includes food services and entertainment of course, with pubs and music venues
The world’s largest service industry of course is Tourism, and this is unlikely to be back to
anything like normal for at least six months with many countries closing their borders to
international tourists. A recalculation of the P/S/T employment mix may be needed.
e) Garment workers
Various campaign groups were quick off the mark to publicise the plight of garment workers.
Many garment workers feared for their lives with a lack of social distancing.
Fashion Revolution was an important account to follow in this area
as it kept track of stories relating to garment workers and how they
tried to cope.
Also Follow the Things Facebook page is an important resource
Some companies like Primark cancelled crucial orders.
Vietnam’s workers were in debt and worried
Check our Dana Thomas’ ongoing work to explore how garment workers are being affected
https://www.traid.org.uk/traid-blog/ - excellent interview
https://www.traid.org.uk/education/education_resources/ - education toolkit
The Clean Clothes Campaign have published a report on Garment Worker exploitation in
This final article connects sections e) and f)
f) Supply chains
Just-in-time economies have been disrupted. This has caused issues for many industries
which relied on supplies arriving just when they were needed.
Perhaps we need more teaching about the nature of supply chains perhaps and the
vital work of logistics. This is one area which we always did well at my current school.
I am working with one of the country’s leading logistics companies to put together a
teaching resource on this topic.
It will be appearing in the next couple of months.
Or perhaps we recalibrate the idea that we could order one day and get it the next day, and
relearn the act of patience e.g. queueing to walk into a supermarket.
Shipping containers are an important technology here. Mariners on container ships were
relatively safe there and could be tracked on MarineTraffic continuing their global
Will we start manufacturing closer to home if this is possible?
3D printers have certainly been used by many to start printing PPE: a big well-done to
Patrick Carberry, Head of DT at my school for printing and distributing PPE to local health
care agencies and pharmacies. It seems that quite a few teachers have gone to a similar
effort to support local healthcare workers.
Suddenly the face mask is the most important commodity it seems:
BBC Radio 4 programme on this theme: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000gvd3
In Business Programme - Radio 4
How can companies change their way of working? Some thoughts here
As China’s supply lockdown passes the six-week mark, we are reaching a tipping point. With
only a slow build-back of supply from China, we are inevitably going to see shortages of key
components across a range of sectors.
The type of exports affected by the lockdown in China’s Hubei province are garments and
textiles; mobile phones; electronics; medical products; small components and machinery.
Therefore, the disruption caused is likely to be seen mainly in automotive, consumer
electronics and pharmaceuticals, meaning the immediate impact on European consumers
will be less directly felt.
To finish the Economies Section, check out Kit Rackley’s latest GeogRamblings video,
released at the end of March 2020.
This explores the potential downward spiral of the de-multiplier effect which countries find
themselves in with people not spending money as they normally do because of fears over
their wages in the medium term producing financial uncertainty. There is plenty of useful
advice here as well as an analysis of the situation.
Image: Kit Rackley of GeogRamblings - used with permission
Caiti Walter has produced an excellent free resource here:
It accompanies a programme on BBC Sounds.
Thanks to Paul Ganderton for this article on Remittances.
These are the financial flows which head back to countries like the Philippines from those
residents who work in other countries, and often earn more money than they could if they
stayed at home. These payments help support large numbers of families, whose spending is
then ‘multiplied’ in the economy. How will the reduction in flows of people and finances
potentially impact on those families involved. Migrant workers aren’t as well supported during
the pandemic, and also are likely to contemplate a return home if that is possible.
In 2019, an estimated 200 million people in the global migrant workforce sent home
US$715 billion (£571 billion). Of this, it’s estimated US$551 billion supported up to 800
million households living in low- and middle-income countries.
h) Corporate Social Responsibility
There’s an element of this in the previous work on garment workers / links to globalisation,
but it’s worth considering this as a new topic for discussion when teaching about industry
and the role of TNCs.
Some companies are particularly affected. Primark had no sales at all in April:
The way firms treat their workers will be remembered after this is over.
i) The death of the Office as a workplace
An excellent piece in the Economist, with wonderful illustrations (this is a golden period for
those to be created) on the death of the office and why we don’t need it anyway…
j) The social contract
Start with this on the social contract from the Financial Times
"Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public
services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less
"As western leaders learnt in the Great Depression, and after the second world war, to
demand collective sacrifice you must offer a social contract that benefits everyone.”
What is clear is just how awfully the Government handled the pandemic from mid-February
onwards. Their lack of action has massively increased the death toll.
And the last line of that article:
Beyond the public health war, true leaders will mobilise now to win the peace.
And we will need to keep our distance for quite some time.
This Lancet piece places the clapping in context. It’s simply not good enough.
“Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of
an allegiance which is not reciprocal.”
10. Development and Inequality
Inequality is as big an issue as ever.
The definition of key workers was explored by George Monbiot in a tweet.
Some are reminding us that there is a gap between those of us that can quarantine because
of the jobs that we have, or our ability to work from home.
Also mentioned in this piece here:
China points out the digital divide:
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reminds us that this is also the case in the UK of
Along with this article:
The Food Foundation report is here: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/
YouGov Report is here: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-latest-impact-on-food-2/
You can browse through all the graphics here:
Social distancing is a dream for many, particularly in Indonesia, refugee camps and other
A race element to the pandemic began to emerge in the USA too
With this piece from the Washington Times (click for limited free articles each month to read
A powerful quote:
And this report has images of empty hotels in Las Vegas, and yet the homeless sleep in
taped off boxes in a car park:
Even in London, this is not easy sometimes - interesting use of Datashine here to identify
areas with crowded households and little access to open space without some sort of
Here’s Emily Maitlis on Newsnight doing a very good job of debunking the myth that this is
a ‘great leveller’ - some people are at greater risk, some people are always at greater risk.
Wealth inequality is visualised here - thanks to Paul Turner
This was a theme followed up by Owen Jones:
And a reminder that some will be profiting at this time, including business with
connections to prominent politicians although price gouging is presumably still being
The link between inequality and pandemics is explored in this Guardian article:
Perhaps the best piece on this was written by the remarkable Rebecca Solnit who always
seems to get the right tone.
She wrote in a piece in the Guardian.
Nearly everyone on Earth is, or will be, affected by this pandemic but each of us is affected
differently. Some of us are financially devastated, some are gravely or fatally ill or have
already died; some face racism outside the home or violence within it. The pandemic is a
spotlight that illuminates underlying problems – economic inequality, racism,
patriarchy. Taking care of each other begins with understanding the differences. And
when the virus has slowed or stopped, all these problems will still need to be addressed.
They are the chronic illnesses that weaken us as a society, morally, imaginatively, and
And on the 1st of May, we had confirmation of the inequalities within the UK being
reflected in Coronavirus deaths.
It is becoming clear that we acted too late, and without a clue of who was infected because
of no testing and tracing, we had no chance unless we locked ourselves away… and now
they want teachers to be the next profession in line?
Graph copyright: The Guardian
With 55.1 deaths per 100,000 people in the most deprived places compared
with 25.3 in the least deprived, the King’s Fund health thinktank demanded
the government focus new resources to reverse health inequalities as the crisis
This could be connected to other health factors which are also found in the more deprived
areas of course.
Here’s the London borough of Newham:
NESTA was hoping for a more inclusive Scotland after Covid-19 - this piece is developing
11. Changing relationship with leisure time and working hours
With people adapting to home working, if productivity stays the same will more people want
to work from home in the future and this will change the nature of work-life balance perhaps,
and also the nature of the ‘separation between work and home’ which commuting offers
along with associated nature of costs / insurance / tax implications.
Hopefully we may see an end to celebrity culture as well, although they are desperate to
remain in the public eye by ‘teaching us’ how to do stuff, and even trying their hand at being
Workers who are clearly the most valuable will hopefully have a large pay rise, particularly
those in the NHS. Let’s also consider the wage rate levels which allow workers to remain in
the UK. And perhaps cancel Brexit while we’re at it.
Will the internet be able to cope?
This New York Times article has an excellent illustration by Pete Gamlen exploring whether
the infrastructure will be able to cope with us all working from home.
a) Natural Increase: a baby boom or bust?
One would imagine that if people were in the house together for weeks there would perhaps
be a baby boom nine months later.
But will people actually keep their distance within the home as well? There was even a page
on the BBC News website answering questions people were asking about whether sex was
From seeing images of people outside carrying on as normal even in late March, one would
suspect that there may be a mini baby boom in December / January - more Capricorns,
which is the best star sign.
These experts think there won’t be a baby boom:
Could there be a slight change to the population pyramid in some countries if the virus
disproportionately affects older people?
"There's no way that the number of births is going to go up," says Kenneth Johnson, a
professor of sociology and demographer at the University of New Hampshire. "This is not the
kind of environment in which people say, 'Let's bring a child into the world now.'"
Where are people heading during this time? Did extra migration happen because resources
were diverted elsewhere.
Coronavirus as a reason for migration and as unwanted as other people
How were migrants coping?
Even social distancing could be argued to be a luxury.
Migration is featured here.
Coronavirus is described as the great amplifier.
13. Globalisation and geopolitics
Our increasingly interconnected world has contributed to the spread of the virus.
Will this be an end to globalisation? Several commentators have talked about this issue, and
it is likely to form part of a future geography curriculum to explore the unravelling of some of
Borders have been shown to be meaningless in many ways, but in some cases have also
been locked down to prevent access e.g. Iceland banned flights.
Will this mean an end to Globalisation?
Parag Khanna, who wrote the book ‘Connectography’ comments on this in an interview with
Listen to the interview and read the article
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the tweets of Klaus Dodds:
This LSE piece is useful and has some relevant quotes:
The use of the term, the “Chinese Virus” by President Trump is an example of the
geopolitical theme here (could also relate to ideas of soft power)
The final sentence is useful:
“We are likely entering a new phase of the globalization drama, but it is not at all certain that it
will be one defined by countries around the world building walls and pulling up drawbridges.”
Emmanuel Macron piece is also relevant here. In the FT which offers limited reads of
In terms of approaches to the virus, there’s an interesting piece here on whether different
types of governments handle pandemics better - is authoritarian better than democratic?
If a leader is a denier like Jair Bolsonaro this can have major implications:
A piece by Madeleine Albright which returns to her previous points about Geography being
14. Carbon Footprints
At the moment we are driving a lot less and travelling less generally. Industries are shut
down, lights are turned off in millions of retail premises and these producers of carbon are
much reduced. What is the link between the increased streaming of data we are all using,
and the production of carbon.
How much carbon are we creating by staying at home?
Each Google search produces carbon, so how much does Netflix streaming generate?
Carbon Brief have tackled this theme as they have other carbon related topics and fact
checked some other claims. It seems the amount of carbon produced is a lot less than some
people estimated, and isn’t counteracting the benefits of staying at home and doing some of
the other activities that we have started to do instead.
Greta Thunberg - some recent tweets on this theme.
Thanks to Kate Stockings for this idea to use these quotes from Greta’s book to spark
discussion about the continued threat that this poses, not least as we enter hurricane
The issues with tourism have been forgotten in those locations which used to have them.
There is a realisation of how many jobs were reliant on the visitors. I’ve seen some tweets
saying how people miss the tourists...
Totnes - Ben King has been sharing images on his morning exercise through this Devon
town. Here’s a view which one would hardly ever see, taken by Ben King.
Image copyright: Ben King - used with permission
Some people are concerned that areas like Devon and Norfolk will see surge in cases after
lockdown is lifted as people travel there in large numbers.
They could also be the areas where there are the most job losses:
Will we see more virtual travel? VR is being used by some during lockdown to try to escape
from their reality.
Travelling to places may also have its issues e.g. seating arrangements on planes, boarding,
Indeed airlines may well be forced to merge or close down:
I wonder what the impact will be on the price of international travel.
Some reports suggest second-home owners are accessing the business support that is
meant for small businesses as well, although they are unlikely to be living there:
And in the meantime, it seems unlikely that with 14 day quarantine restrictions in place for
those wanting to enter most countries, that overseas tourism is unlikely to restart in 2020
Thousands of Icelanders have lost their jobs including many coach drivers for Gray Line who
serve the schools that visit the island.
Some places are looking at this as an opportunity to reboot, such as the Austrian ski resort
of Ischgl which is planning to ditch its party tourism reputation after it became a cluster for
infections in the early days of the pandemic:
One theme has emerged over the last week in this area.
However, the real ‘winners’ may be the resorts in the UK as overseas travel is unlikely
to be as easy therefore the STAYCATION is likely to be the norm for a while and some
places are poised to hopefully return to successful trading and a boom in visitors (with the
short term associated risks involved)
Global travel will reduce for a while, affecting the many people globally who rely on
tourism. Case Studies on this will have to change.
Smartphones track us wherever we go, often without people realising.
Surveillance will be used to ensure that people don’t break curfews. We have cameras to
check average speeds on roads which tag cars using ANPR, so those who drive when they
are supposed to be at home can be identified as they appear on numerous cameras which
are far from their home area. When I travelled to school during lockdown, which is an almost
50 mile journey I made sure I had my lanyard, ID, teacher union membership card etc.
Yuval Noah Harari mentions this in his piece for the FT:
There was a very good report on the BBC News in mid-April showing the extremes of
surveillance and control in China, including monitoring of people leaving apartment blocks in
cities with thermometers to check on fever etc. ALthough the temperature checking may not
be as effective as people think, it is this surveillance and compliance which some countries
are used to, and others aren’t.
A US commentator reminded people that some of the measures introduced after 9/11 which
was in 2001 are still in place 19 years later, giving the government additional surveillance
powers. Civil liberties need to be balanced against the other regulations.
It showed how mobile phones can be used to trigger warnings when people find themselves
in particular locations which may be more risky.
As one would imagine, recorded Crime is well down as people are all at home.
I imagine car crime is also down as people’s cars are outside their homes / inside garages.
However, with so many businesses closed down and not perhaps checked on for some time,
there may well have been some commercial / business premises which have been targeted
Tracking is being used in South Korea:
A linked resource here (pun intended)
The key type of transport to be affected by this is air transport of course.
Heathrow is closing one of its runways in early April
Road traffic reductions have taken traffic back to 1955 levels apparently, and traffic speeds
are up as a result, particularly when it comes to the ‘rush hour’.
Designing streets that save lives
Addition by Helen Young: This article by the BBC considers whether working from home will
be the new norm for many, questioning the need for improvements to transport
Jo Ward is a transport planner and shared her thoughts here:
Travelling for business - will Zoom replace many meetings in the future as people realise
that they can still meet and make important decisions? How secure are these meetings?
Or will travelling become the preserve of the rich?
Meanwhile CityMapper has a Mobility Index for cities around the world. This was useful as
cities started to shut down. Drag the top banner with 1 week ago, 2 weeks ago etc to see the
figures rise as we go back to before the lockdown.
This article on the use of Smartphone Data has an image of the Oculus
Compare with my image taken on April 15th 2019
Many people are enjoying the reduced traffic flow to be able to enjoy cycling and even
walking more safely.
The associated pollution is not something people are missing.
Daniel Whittall sent me this article on the city of Milan, which is going to expand its cycle
network in the future - Belgian cities have been ahead of the curve on this for years.
We could also see more adoption of the banning of cars with older, more polluting engines
as again happens in many European cities, with LEZ (Low Emission Zones)
I can see an activity perhaps where students map where these should go in their own home
town or city.
Ironically, London has currently suspended the Congestion charge to support key workers
travelling to work, as have cities in other parts of the world. The Congestion Charge in
London is £11.50 per day, Monday to Friday.
The death of the car? Probably not:
Ola Rosling of the Gapminder Foundation appeared this week with a new video exploring
the realities of the impact of flight reductions on carbon dioxide emissions and climate
change. Can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_asLII6J0k
Apple’s mobility data came out in late April. Here’s the graph for London.
18. Geographies of Convenience
Speaking of convenience, public conveniences usually have a supply of toilet paper, which
was more than could be said for supermarkets in the run up to the enforced home isolation
for many, as the shelves were cleared. This later moved on to flour and yeast as everyone
Using local services where possible.
Village shop = higher prices? Or did people find that the local butcher was competitive on
price after all.
I’ve had in mind a unit on Geographies of Convenience on my KS3 curriculum for
some time - perhaps now is the time for it to make an appearance.
19. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Will this stall progress on the Sustainable Development Goals? It seems very likely.
The United Nations published a report in March 2020
Since then several pieces have talked about the humanitarian tragedy that is going to unfold
in places like India, and others which have an informal economy which is driven by personal
Here’s an image via Koen Timmers
20. Food Security
The world’s food system is in a fragile state.
Multinational companies have written to
members of the G7 and G20, asking them to
keep borders open so that food flows. There are
fears that this might double the number of people
who are malnourished.
Currently this stands at around 820 million
people but it could well double according to some
estimates, and those 110 million most at risk are
in even greater danger.
The letter ends with this phrase:
Getting the food system right is central to a resilient recovery across the world, creating the
potential for millions of new jobs, less hunger, greater food security and better
management of key natural resources: soil, water, forests and the oceans.
Worth checking out the Twitter discussions around this.
Led me to this useful piece with some quotable quotes:
What and how we eat affects our health and wellbeing. We depend on farmers to
continue working their fields, on supermarket cashiers to show up at their jobs, and on
drivers to deliver our food to markets or front doors. But there are strains. In some
places, nutritious food is becoming scarce. Among other concerns, food is being
hoarded, leaving little on shelves for consumers.
All of us must act. We must work together to save lives, meet immediate needs through
emergency responses, and plan for longer-term solutions to support recovery and
build resilience. Governments and responsible leaders need to promote and protect
reliable, safe, and affordable food supplies, especially for the world’s most vulnerable.
Diagram above is from Professor Corinna Hawkes
And here’s the FAO:
As well as the issues with food shortages there are also examples of food surpluses in some
countries, with Belgians being asked to eat frites twice a week to tackle a potato mountain:
In the short term, food security has been helped by access to Food Banks, but they are
being hit because of a shortage of donations and also availability of volunteers. They are
also seeing an increased demand because of the lack of free school meals for many who
are entitled to them but can’t go to school. Vouchers are also not working smoothly for some.
Here’s a statement from the Trussell Trust which operates many food banks.
People are turning to them who have never been before, such as furloughed workers
21. Superpowers: Hard and Soft Power
The changing power dynamics of countries. How will China, Russia and America be
changed economically by the virus - what about soft power?
Where will Britain be on this table in a year or two’s time? https://softpower30.com/
China’s links with other countries and debt:
22. Sense of Place
Thanks to Paula Owens for the lead to this excellent article which I have now referred to
several times in other work as well. I contacted the author as well, who it turns out majored
THE PANDEMIC IS redefining our relationship with space. Not outer space, but
physical space. Hot spots, distance, spread, scale, proximity. In a word: geography.
Suddenly, we can’t stop thinking about where.
People are engaging in placemaking with their rainbows, painted stones, yarnbombing etc.
Before the lockdown it was suggested that we might
all be using so much energy there would be power
cuts, but of course we don’t have the industrial and
transportation usage of energy and public buildings
We now have far more domestic energy use - bills are
going to rise for sure.
There are also some peaks through the day, such as
lunchtime and early evening.
Remember that you can keep track of how our energy
is being generated on the trackers of the National Grid
and you may be able to see these peaks.
Might make a good activity I guess if someone wants
to put it together I can add it here.
The lockdown has also seen a major milestone in
terms of coal use. Thanks to Claire Kyndt for this
24. New Communities
A Corporate Social Responsibility piece in the Geog Mag by Mary Martin explores the
potential impact on communities and how they may change:
Also the village of Eyam was back in the news, as an example of one who dealt with a
previous plague. Paul Berry wrote a blogpost about the village and how it dealt with the
No community is going to be unaffected. Our village has a range of notice boards and help
for elderly people.
One aspect of many communities in picturesque areas is the number of second homes.
While some may have holed up there, many owners will have been unable to visit for a
while. These empty homes are not helping the local services who are needing support at this
time. I’ve spent more in my local butcher than I usually do over the last month.
25. Surveillance (link to D3 Erasmus Project)
This project explores the use of open data in daily life
Google Mobility reports
These are useful documents.
https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/ - available for most countries.
I’ve been exploring these. The 2nd set of reports was published on April the
9th with others coming out at intervals and sometimes being picked up by
local newspapers e.g. the EDP in East Anglia picked up the 16th of April report.
These were joined by other technology firms to start to trace the movements of 3 billion
people in April and May:
Contact tracing is the phrase used, also explored by Hannah Fry in her 2018 GA
Conference Keynote lecture at the University of Sheffield.
Here’s how it works in a BBC video:
Thanks to Michaela Lindner-Fally for the tip off to this piece on the modelling of contact
and spread for the city of Salzburg. This is a European centre for the use of GI, and I’ve
been fortunate to visit many times and also to teach courses at the University there. A
translated version of the article is here:
A Charlie Warzel piece in the New York Times on technology in March 2020 considered how
it was starting to find a new audience in the lockdown.
It’s been a big week for what I refer to as “Hermit Tech.”
Stock in technology companies that facilitate working from home have soared in a spiraling market
otherwise anxious by an impending coronavirus pandemic. Netflix is preparing for the server strain of
the bored but quarantined masses. Expensive Peloton stationary bikes and streaming workout
services are seeing substantial spikes in interest. Tech guides are popping up suggesting everything
from noise-canceling headphones, Wi-Fi signal boosters, and productivity hacks for families who’ll
need to make close quarters work and life livable.
Sometimes we want to know where we are of course:
Explores the work of what3words (w3w) at this time as well.
26. Geography of Disease
This unit in ‘A’ level specifications will obviously never be taught the same again.
There will be one case study to rule them all...
Pandemics are obvious risks, as mentioned in a previous section.
The Government’s advisors in SAGE had warned of them in 2019, and given specific
guidance on preparations. This is connected with the work that we do when discussing
disasters such as tectonic hazards and the preparation and planning that needs to be put in
by communities at risk - in this case, every community is at risk.
This blog post from 2016 also sounds a warning years ago about viruses that would emerge:
EUROMOMO is a useful collation of mortality statistics.
The MOMO stands for mortality monitoring https://www.euromomo.eu/
There are graphs and maps showing excess deaths for countries across Europe.
This could also be one occasion where smoking is actually good for you:
The Lancet’s Covid-19 area: https://www.thelancet.com/coronavirus
Epidemiologists talk about the SEIR model
Source: The Economist
There will be some interesting dynamics once countries re-open or ease lockdown, particular
in border areas where one country does something different to another.
There’s an extreme example here, which has featured in a number of textbooks of a
complicated border, between Belgium and the Netherlands.
It’s the area called Baarle Hertog and Baarle Nassau.
There is a clothing shop called Zeeman which straddles the border, and one half is open
while the other half remains closed:
Will this lead to new negotiations and tensions along borders?
C: Geographical Skills and Tools
Can we still do fieldwork in times of lockdown? The Geographical Association shared
ideas on its ‘Geography from Home’ page which I put together:
And how will fieldwork change afterwards? The Field Studies Council has their fieldwork
live lessons running through the Summer term, starting on the 20th of April.
See the link to my draft Outdoor Curriculum Document in the Pedagogy section of this
document. I intend to teach outdoors as much as possible for the second half of the Summer
term and the first half of the Autumn (Michaelmas) term. It’s a work in progress.
Phil Smith shared an excellent idea for walking in a time of virus - quite psychogeographical
Thanks also to Sharon Witt for the tip off to Gillian Judson’s Walking Curriculum which is
free for Kindle if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber.
This contains a number of different walks on curriculum
What an opportunity and it can’t really be done at the
moment, to explore the impacts of this on our public
places as their usage declines.
Google is doing this through data aggregation.
Those with an urban view e.g. overlooking a public place would be ideally judged to do this
sort of work as well. Sophie Raworth, the BBC newsreader shared images from her run
commute to work: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-52155029
Thanks for David Morgan from the FSC for the lead to a document produced by Deborah
Lupton which provides some guidance on fieldwork during the lockdown, aimed at higher
level students in social studies but useful for guidance nonetheless.
My colleague Claire Kyndt is working on a lovely idea of a dérive to look for signs of the
pandemic: signs, rainbows in windows, painted stones, messages of support, instructions in
shop windows etc. Perhaps an iSpy book as mentioned in the GA Geography from Home
29. Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
This is coming into its own in terms of capturing and mapping the pattern of spread of the
virus, and may now become more mainstream as a result. The ESRI dashboard for example
has been viewed millions of times and the use of GIS to explore aspects of supply chains etc
is also very helpful.
ESRI have an area of their website dedicated to their response: