New Geographies : New Curriculum
PC (Post Coronavirus) School Geographies
A provocation & some curriculum making
‘Geography, likeall dynamic areas of disciplinary thought, isin a constant
state of becoming’.
(Lambert & Morgan, 2010)
Late August 2020
Cover image copyright: Tony Cassidy - used with permission
All Alan Parkinson’s text shared under CC license - other material copyrighted.
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 threatsrequire 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 thecoronavirus, 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 handsmore frequently, protecting the
elderly, and helping neighbours shop for food.
The Covid-19 pandemic hasunleashed humanity’s instinct to transformitself in theface 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:
Pestilence is so common, there have been as many plagues in the world as there have been
wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared.
Albert Camus ‘La Peste’ (1947)
“The lessonforpeople tounderstandis this is the year of living differently.Not,‘OK,it’s
over’.Youhaven’tjustbeenletoutof school.You have done well.Youhave reallybroughtdown
your numbers.So,now isthe momenttocelebrate thatbybeingsupercareful.”
Dr Margaret Harris, WHO,June 23rd 2020
And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.
Donald Trump, President of the USA on 10 March 2020
The powerful front cover of the New York Times for 24th May 2020
Contents p. 4
Introduction p. 7
Thinking through the changes p. 17
Geographical themes and possible changes p. 21
Physical Geography topics
1. Landscape processes and change p. 21
2. Land use p. 22
3. Weather and climate / air quality / weather hazards p. 23
4. Tectonics p. 25
5. Our relationship with nature / Ocean Plastics p. 28
6. Plate Tectonics p. 31
7. Biodiversity p. 31
8. Water Cycle and Hydrological Processes p. 32
At the interface between physical and human
9. Climate Change / Emergency p. 33
Human Geography topics
10.Urbanisation p. 34
a) Urban spaces and hierarchies (and the return of communities)
b) LIC urban areas
c) Sounds of the city
d) Future city centres and urban design
e) The role of neighbourhoods
f) Urban resilience
g) Desire lines
h) Recovery from the Coronavirus
11.Employment: primary, secondary and tertiary p. 50
a) Retail & the changing High Street
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
k) Games Industry booming
l) Droning on
m) After the furlough ends...
12.Development and Inequality p.74
including #BlackLivesMatter p.84
13.Changing leisure time and working hours p.85
a) Natural increase - a baby boom or bust?
c) Non Covid-19 mortality
d) Twentysomething issues
e) Population pyramids
f) Gender issues
15.Globalisation & Geopolitics p.90
16.Carbon footprints p.94
17.Tourism - a changed industry p.96
a) Tourism closing down
b) Tourism reopening again
20.Geographies of Convenience p.112
21.Sustainable Development Goals p.112
22.Food Security, Food Banks & the importance of diet p.113
23.Superpowers: Hard and Soft Power p.119
- The UK as an emerging market?
24.Sense of Place p.122
26.New communities p.123
27.Surveillance (link to D3 Erasmus project) p.123
28.Geography of Disease p.125
30.Van lifers - modern nomads p.131
31.The ultimate ‘postcode lottery’ p.132
32.The island mindset p.133
33.Geographies of the Anthropocene p.134
34.GDP - time for another measure of the economy? p.134
36.The Earth Project p.137
38.Overseas Aid p.139
Geographical Skills and Tools
40.Geographical Information Systems (GIS) p.141
41.Statistical Literacy p.143
Pedagogical Approaches and thinking incl. DPSIR p.145
★ Erasmus Projects - D3 and GI-Pedagogy
★ Geographical Enquiry
★ Image stimulus
★ Critical Thinking
★ Group Work in Teams - new ways of working
PC Curriculum Making - some early thoughts p.149
★ Do we need a curriculum of recovery?
★ Teaching about Covid-19 - GeographyalltheWay
★ International perspectives
Back to school - September 2020 thoughts p.161
★ A curriculum for learning outside the classroom
Changing exams in 2021, and an early update for the Specifications?
A better world ahead? p.164
Profiting from the pandemic? p.171
Reading list and References incl. ‘Slowdown’ p.172
- Lockdown Dérive by Claire Kyndt
Copyright: Brian Stauffer
Welcome to V9.0 of this document, which has been re-edited and had substantial additional
content blended in during July and August 2020, as we moved into an unusual summerbreak,
schools broke up and ongoing discussions over mask usage continued. The Eat Out to Help
Out scheme was launched, and we saw headlines suggesting that pubs would have to close
to keep the schools open. Some international borders reopened and tourists headed abroad,
shops reopened, beaches were rammed, and we waited for the 2nd spike.
During this time we passed the grim global milestone of ten million cases and over 800
000 deaths from Covid-19 globally.
I’ve continued to embolden what I think is particularly valuable content, which is feeding into
a final ‘resource’ outcome from this project. Some key trends and areas are starting to emerge
now and this is going to connect with the work the GA are doing on their GEO project.
I’ve been in touch with several people including an Awarding Body, and have been
asked to start to put some ideas down in a form which can be used to ‘update’ teaching
for GCSE Geographers. I’ve also been working on updating my KS3 curriculum for
2020-22 and factoring in content from here. To mark the areas I’m developing, I’m making
use of one of the new UNOCHA icons for the Covid-19 response.
When you see this icon, it marks an area of the document which I’m starting to write up
as a new resource.
If you have seen or read earlier versions of the document, you will perhaps notice
several new sections in this version. It’s good to see in the long tradition of
academic geographers informing the school subject that this is also a feature of
the next phase of curriculum development. There’s a continued shift towards
possible contexts for curriculum making and outputs from academic geographers.
I’ve also changed the laterstages ofthe document as I look aheadto returningto school
in some way in September.
Early on in the process, Steve Brace led me to a George Monbiot article, published in ‘The
Guardian’ on May 12th, where he referred to elements of the Geography curriculum that
geography students current and recent will be very familiar with:
“No one is embarrassed when a “well-educated” person cannot provide even a rough
explanation of the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle or the water cycle, or of how soils
Of course, anyone currently learning GCSE geography is familiar with those things and
George was in danger of joining others at this time providing unwanted advice to teachers on
how to do their jobs - something that we are the experts at.
The title of the article suggests that we need to rethink everything, starting with education:
This document makes a start on thinking about what that might look like for geography
education at least.
Pandemics may well end up being the mother of invention as with previous global crises:
Why did I create this document?
The idea to create this document 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. I added a post to the LivingGeography blog on March 13th, with the title ‘The Eve
of the War’ connecting to a section in HG Wells ‘War of the Worlds’ where ordinary life carries
on as normal although the Martians were already here. This was a strange week, and
lockdown happened at the end of it. 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. I
started thinking in particular about what I/we (as a subject community) will be teaching in
Geography when we return in the Autumn term. The actual logistics of this are being
developed through the summer, and also potentially going to continue for a few months.
While writing a biography of every President on my GA Presidents Blog, which can be read at
http://gapresidents.blogspot.com I’ve encountered numerous occasions where the subject has
changed in response to particular global events or new ways of thinking. The pandemic has
already had 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. The
assessment plans for 2021 are changing, as I discuss later in the document.
Some elements of the geography in the specifications will have changed out of all
recognition by the time we return, as will many of the topics taught lower down the
school. Our own motivation for continuing to select those same subjects to devote
curriculum time to will also change.
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 starve.
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. Others moaned about the need to wear a mask
to protect others, including retail workers who faced significant increased risks of contracting
Here then is a chance to challenge the status quo or press the ‘reset’ button on a few
topics. It may also be a time to explore a stronger connection with the idea of the
Anthropocene. This virus emerged as a result of human lifestyles and was transmitted rapidly
by our globe-trotting lives and access tocheap air travel. The document also shows the impact
of human decisions, political and otherwise on the extent to which certain human-defined
areas of the planet (we’ll call them countries)were impacted. New Zealand returned to ‘normal’
quickly, the USA is seeing a spiralling death toll presided over by Trump.
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 has previously referred to
these as ‘zombie geographies’ - they refuse to die and are still found in curriculum
A few themes have emerged since March 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 started to pull together somethoughts and ideas
in the first phase of this work (versions 1-6 ish and now from version 7 onwards I have
started to move towards the creation of some new curriculum materials for the return
to school in some format for a new PC Geography curriculum.
These ideas also fed into a book I wrote during this period on why geography matters.
I am not an academic geographer, and I know that geography academics in their different
geographical specialist areas are thinking about their own area of expertise and how it may
change their teaching too. I’ve comeacross some 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 the
thinking, or have identified someof these stories emerging in the media, or via your own social
media contacts. There is a free editorial in the RGS’ ‘Transactions’ which has some of these
https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/tran.12389 - PDF
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. Greta Thunberg completed her 100th climate strike
Friday during July 2020.
Another thought is will we actually want to teach about Coronavirus (preferring to try to
forget it about it, particularly if our family or friends, or members of the wider school community
have been touched by tragedy, and inevitably those of our students and colleagues). Is it too
raw for a good 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 taught) and what role do geography teachers
have in this role?
Just to say that I do not intend teaching about Covid-19 as a topic, at least in the short
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 too and use some of David Alcock’s emergent ideas on
Hopeful geographies. 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 perhaps?
Another thing to consider is the student voice as well.
Will there be students who are happy with the way that they have been learning during
lockdown and want to avoid a return to what they had before? Or will the majority crave a
return to teacher-led instruction and someone telling them what to do - even the rest that
comes from listening to the teacher talking, which means you can sit there and do nothing for
a few minutes. How will our bubbles work?
John Morgan has talked about the NZ situation and the rise of ‘disruptive education’.
He quotes Andreas Schleicher:
‘You’regoing to havea lot of young peoplewho haveexperienced differentformsof learning in the
crisis, learning thatwasmorefun,moreempowering.They will go backto their teachersand say:can
we do thingsdifferently?’
A genuinely ‘disruptive’ approach to schooling, I conclude, would pay much more attention to
what students’ learn, rather than where and how they learn.
He talks about the changing nature of the public’s view of teachers and the curriculum and
Now, more than ever, we require ‘disciplined understanding of disciplines’: making sense of
Covid 19 – a triple crisis of public health, economy, and social continuity –requires
frameworks for understanding the ‘ways of the world’
These can come from Geography of course.
Well worth reading, and provides a real rationale for continuing with this work.
I was reminded by someone who posted a section of Hans Rosling’s essential ‘Factfulness’
book that Hans had warned us that Pandemics were something we did need to worry about.
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 2015.
However his son Ola came out with some useful thoughts, and they were included in the 4th
version of the document and later. Hear Hans talking so clearly about the work here:
In it, he describes a number of things that we should be concerned about and Pandemic is in
there alongside Global Warming, as those who have read ‘Factfulness’ may remember.
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
called ‘Risky World’, which I
guess will be one we reevaluate
next time round.
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. There
was even a ‘practice-run’
evaluation of systems a few
And yet knowing this, few
preparations were made, and
vital equipment wasn’t stockpiled
when it should have been.
Image copyright: Gov.uk - National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies
Lives were lost needlessly as a result:
Tory sleaze has piled on sleaze with decisions benefitting companies connected with various
individuals and wasted money on a shocking scale after years of austerity when apparently
there was no money:
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.
Several important articles have started to shape my thinking.
Geographyis firmly back on the agenda, as outlined in this essential Wired piece by David
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..
Pandemicthrowstheimportanceof spacebackinto sharp relief. We’re thinking aboutit at the
smallest scale,navigating supermarketaislesorconverting closetsinto serviceablehomeoffices.
The theme was also picked up by Marshall Shepherd in Forbes
And on the death of nostalgia:
Lewis Dartnell, author of ‘Origins’ wrote a piece for the BBC at the start of July on some of
the changes that might be here to stay:
The curriculumneeds to be considered as a process, and a continual work in progress.
My curriculum is always changing from year to year in an iterative fashion. Rosalind Walker
reminds us of this in this well written piece:
Dylan Wiliam spoke at an event organised by ResearchED about the current overloading in
the curriculum. He said, quoted in the TES:
"There is no doubtthatthere’sfartoo much stuff in ourcurriculum – I’vewondered aboutwhy thisis,
and my conclusion isthatcurriculumdeveloperscannotbearthethoughtthatanychildren mighthave
spare time on their hands. So they actually make sure there’s enough stuff in the curriculum for the
fastest-learning studentsto beoccupied allyear.And so there’sfartoo much formoststudents - some
teachersjustteach thecurriculum,they metreit outand they go frombeginning to end and20percent
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 equally important.”
So perhaps now is the time to drop someof that ‘trivial’ stuff I mentioned earlier to make space
for greater thinking about futures and a changed world.
At the same time, we are waiting for a vaccine, which may well be the most rapidly
produced in medical history - a good thing. Bill Gates, writing in ‘The Economist’ set out
some important things to consider including the fact that we have a long way to go.
“When historianswritethe bookon the covid-19 pandemic,whatwe’velived through so farwill
probably takeup only the first third or so.
The bulkof the story will bewhathappensnext.”
There have also been 2 editorials in RGS journals on the Pandemic:
Progress in Human Geography
by Noel Castree, Louise Amoore, Alex Hughes, Nina Laurie, David Manley, and Susan
There are several questions asked in this document. This one is particularly relevant:
How might attempts to make sense of COVID-19’s geographies affect the way we do
Geography and define ‘progress’ in the discipline? As part of this, are there older
approaches, ideas or methods that might usefully be revisited? Conversely, what
might we need to invent in order to address absences in our cognitive and normative
The journal Transactions of the IBG had a different approach.
They have a virtual edition from May 2020 which is worth exploring by those who want a higher
level analysis of the geographical connections.
Impressively, the Summer 2020
issue of ‘Geography’ - the GA’s key
academic journal - also included an
introductory piece on the impacts of
Covid-19, written by Steve Puttick,
which was very well written and ties
in perfectly with the spirit of this
document’s creation, talking about
the link with the geographical
concept of scale:
The movement between scales is dizzying,
from measurements in micrometers,
through hyper- connected international
travel infrastructure to millions of
infections, hundreds of thousandsof deaths,
and trillions of dollars. And from the global
dashboards through which we view the
charting of infections, deaths, recoveries,
and forecasts, back into the space-times of
our homes, where – at the time of writing,
at least – most of us must stay. COVID-19
has brought the deeply unequal nature of
our world into sharp relief as these
experiences of ‘staying home’ continue to
mean wildly different things across all-too-common gendered, racialised, and classed fault lines
Image copyright: Geographical Association
Download a digital copy here - and don’t forget to join the GA:
The School of Geography at the University of Melbourne got stuck in with a useful
contribution in late July.
This has also been described in the Conversation piece here as a ‘sliding doors’ moment:
we can go one way or the other - getting better or far worse.
Also, interesting piece by Tim Harford on our potential memories of the lockdown:
In early July, the OECD published a report on the impact of coronavirus on education.
Thanks to Karl Donert for posting a link to this. It may well have somerelevance for the thinking
of many educators, beyond the practical procedural thinking that has gone into preparing for
reopening in August or September 2020 and will no doubt continue over the summer as
government guidance, and the local rate of infection changes.
OECD report is here:
FOR MANYof the 1.5bn pupils affected by school closures,fewer lessonsjustmeansmore labour—or
worse. That spells a lifetime of lost earnings, and lost childhoods.
Schooling disrupted, schooling rethought
It includes 15 suggestions for things that schools need to do.
We’ve heard a lot about the need to rebalance the system. We will certainly need to ensure
that geography remains part of the curriculum.
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 were indeed studies going on, although fieldwork is going to be
difficult - data collection via Google Form / Survey 123 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, and very early on identified the
tension between protecting lives or protecting the economy - now there’s an enquiry section
This piece by Neal Lawson provided further ideas at this early stage of v1.0:
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 and has been ongoing during this time, and needed to adapt
to the changing circumstances of course, as with all the work I’ve completed.
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:
Along with some thoughts on separating the signal from the noise from Futures
Further important thoughts came from Paul Ganderton on the Facebook group set up to
support Geography Teachers during Covid-19 by Matt Podbury:
Follow the Australian educator Paul Ganderton here: https://twitter.com/ecogeogfor a lot more
on this topic.
It’s worth saying that thanks to my employment and the excellent librarian Dr. Inga Jones at
my school’s Porta library, I have subscriber access to New Scientist, The Economist and the
Wall Street Journal. This means I have included reference to some articles which you may not
have full access to. I’ve also got a personal subscription to the New York Times, which is very
much recommended for an alternative perspective on world events, including the Pandemic
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:
Here’s another LOOM video - this time for the Discover the World Education Teachmeet
which was held in early June - a variation on the GA one as a different audience.
I also used it at the first GA Sheffield Branch Teachmeet in early July.
Ben Hennig and Tina Gotthardt, over 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.
The latest update was added on the 31st of July 2020
Cases January - June 2020
Images copyright: Worldmapper - shared under CC license
New animation of cases were updated on the 3rd of August.
You can see the second waves in the pulses of the animation.
Also check out some aerial images which show the impact:
Geographical Themes and possible changes
These ideas are currently presented separately, but in reality, a piece of work in a classroom
would often need to connect several of these together, and bring in further appropriate
questions, analysis of text and images and some sort of final presentation format and review.
There would be options to create separate elements for GCSE and ‘A’ level units.
From version 7 onwards, there has been a shift towards curriculum making.
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 could visit when we were allowed out sustaining many through the lockdown,
dreaming of mountains we wanted to climb and places we wanted to return to after an
absence. Several of us made lists of the places we intended to visit as soon as we were able.
Rivers have continued to behave as always for the last few months, and waves have reached
the shore as usual. Rivers will still flow downhill, and waves will still hit the coat every few
The landscape can be one permanence in our lives, and in the curriculum… I’m working on a
unit on the development of The Fensas a consequenceof the pandemic, to encourage people
to get out into this landscape explained so well by Francis Pryor in his recent book on ‘The
Fens’, and using a couple of other relevant books as well.
Watch this space for links to that new unit, which I will share as always once it is ready.
Landscapes being reclaimed by the wild.
Goats reclaimed 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.
Spanish officials sprayed a beach with bleach. Not sure if that would speed up chemical
weathering in the area, but worth discussing perhaps.
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:
Isolation caused by relief
The mountains of Wales may have helped Ceridigion have the lowest rates of infection in
"Ceredigion hasat least in partbeen protected by its geography,"agreed Prof MichaelWoodsof
AberystwythUniversity."Weknowthecoronavirusspreadsprimarily through closecontactbetween
peopleand the lower population densityin rural areasmakesit more difficult.The relative
remotenessalso meansfewerpeoplehere were travelling backand forth to places with high
numbersof caseslike southWales,the West Midlandsand Merseyside."
2. Land Use
I would be interested to see how the landscape is changed
as a result of decisions made during lockdown.
e.g Agricultural use of land.
This Tim Lang book 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.
Would 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.
Dan mentioned this on his Twitter feed as well, showing how much land was being taken up
by golf courses which were closed at the time. Farm tracks were sometimes closed to prevent
people walking near to the farm houses.
Public space is going to prove valuable as town centres reopen:
More on this in the urban section.
It will also need to change:
The notion of being in public or the idea of publics is explored here:
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 somepoliticians have been forced
to resign for breaking lockdown (whereas some people kept their job).
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 even more significantly and the school holidays start, as
people will head to places like Devon and Norfolk, for example, bringing the virus with them
into areas with relatively low population density. There were signs that locals weren’t happy
about this in many locations with hand made signs going up early in the lockdown. The loss
of local jobs may once again change the perception here.
3. Weather and Climate / Air Quality / Weather Hazards
We should 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 was certainly
getting clearer during lockdown: https://twitter.com/i/status/1248669136676425735 (video on
Skies have emptied of planes - will we (be able to) go back to flying when this is all
over? In late June it emerged that Boeing was scrapping its fleet of 747s ahead of schedule
(they had been due to disappear by 2024)
Will there still be the same number of airlines / competition for flights / cheap flights? It seems
Car pollution also briefly halved according to this study:
In India, there were visual signs that the air was clearing as well:
In early June however, as the lockdown eased and ‘normal’ life resumed, air quality levels
rose back to pre-Covid levels in China very quickly, and Europe will soon follow suit:
This was perhaps because people were avoiding public transport so congestion increased.
Can cities keep their air clean? Some ‘blue-sky thinking’ is needed perhaps:
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
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.
Typhoon Vongfong hit the Philippines in mid-May
There may be some short term changes to our carbon emissions, but not the long term ones
required to change the climate - by which I mean decade long reductions towards net zero.
Cyclone Amphan hit Bangladesh and India, forcing the evacuation of 1 million people:
cyclone-amphan-nears and June saw the start of the Hurricane season.
Sylvia Knight recorded a podcast for the RGS-IBG, which included a section on links between
the weather and Covid-19 - listen here:
4. Tectonicsand disasters
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, and Cyclone Amphan has battered Kolkata.
Ilan Kelman seminar on his book: Disaster by Choice - recommended reading
“A situation requiring outside support for coping” is his definition of a disaster
Bangladesh was suffering in late July with monsoon flooding following a supercyclone:
Also 3 Atlantic hurricanes heading for the Caribbean.
5. Our relationshipwith Nature...
The closureof 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. We had another outbreak at a market in China in mid-June as a
reminder of this possibility. 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
Wildlife trade needs to stop - including imports of bushmeat and other species.
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, as it appears:
biodiversity-chief-age-of-extinction - biodiversity
A food related connection is discussed here:
Can we make more space for nature?
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 closestlink with nature perhaps are the indigenous peoples suchas 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 farming techniques
which many students will have learned about.
Check out the Emergence magazine podcast here:
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
Image copyright: UN
This relationship is explored in this piece from the 7th of May on our ‘promiscuous treatment
There has also been an increase in fly-tipping as council recycling centres are closed.
Many people cleared out their houses and wanted to do DIY which has created extra waste.
Some councils are also burning recycling as there are fears over virus contamination of
Costing the Earth on BBC Radio 4 had some thoughts in an episode hosted by Tom Heap
Tom Heap talks through the environmental issues 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
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
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 pollution.
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.
Perhaps time to fast forward some rewilding projects, such as Wild East
Andy Owen shared this link to some satellite imagery showing areas which were paused -
changing human behaviour in certain environments.
I was interested in the collapse in price of legal abalones: an unusual ‘crop’:
On the plus side, oceans are getting quieter due to fewer vessel movements: good for
cetaceans, and the cleaner water is helping animals such as seahorses in Studland Bay:
Any thoughts that we might have come to love and appreciate nature more during lockdown
were immediately dispelled when guidance meant we could travel as far as we wanted,
following the Dominic Cummings scandal. People flocked to Bournemouth beach several days
running, and left human waste in burger boxes or in RNLI stations. People crowded into
Liverpool when their football team won the Premiership football league.
And signs like this needed to go up in London’s parks:
...and Ocean Plastics
There has also been a dramatic rise in Ocean Plastics with the use of PPE / disposable gloves
/ endless tape and 2m distancing stickers on the floor outside premises which will degrade in
the rain and sun:
coronavirus-waste-ends-up-in-ocean - “more masks than jellyfish”
Image from LA Times article here:
Image taken on the Soko Islands near Hong Kong.
A Conversation piece:
A sea of troubles and plastic as the “asbestos of the sea” in this article:
Single use protective equipment has been sold in hundreds of millions and people won’t want
to keep it around as it is potentially infected (at least in the short term)
Just imagine the plastic and glass to produce test equipment.
What about those swabs… I guess they have plastic in them.
A vaccine if developed would use all the world’s glass and more to store it. Are we starting to
make those vials now? I doubt it…
Even discussions over UK vaccine manufacture and Russian hackers in late July 2020
Professor Stephen Scoffham wrote a piece on the changing relationship with nature for the
Canterbury Christchurch University’s Expert Comment blog in early June 2020:
Andrew Mitchell wrote a piece for ‘Geographical’ magazine in mid June
Economists estimate the economic fallout from the Covid-19 virus pandemic could approach $10
trillion dollars, or around one eighth of global GDP. To prevent a recurrence of this crisis, we need to
look less into human health, than into the collective blindness among regulators and within the
financialsectorof the hugedependenciestheglobaleconomy hason biodiversity,and thedevastating
impactson us all when our effect on these dependencies,becomesincreasingly unsustainable.Covid-
19 is nature’s $10 trillion dollar bite back, and this is just the beginning.
Based on this earlier report:
Global Risk Report
Risk is also increasing as a result of contaminated waste.
BBC in late June published this piece and introduced the term “anthropause” which is quite
The UK-led team's aim is to study what they have called the "anthropause" - the global-
scale, temporary slowdown in human activity, which is likely to have a profound impact on
Michael Batty from CASA UCL has written this important piece here.
In it he references a short story by E.M.Forster called ‘The Machine Stops’ - this has been
discussed by me previously on my blog, and also by fellow Primary geographers Steve
Rawlinson and Tessa Willy at a recent Charney Primary Geography Conference:
One to revisit and see the parallels for yourself. You can find the short story online in various
An RGS piece by SImon Willcock from Bangor University on how we connected (or not) with
People have paused:
Some don’t want to go back to their previous lives.
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
image with socially distanced countries:
Given the fact tourists weren’t travelling to Thailand, there were benefits to some of the rare
turtles such as the Olive Ridley who weren’t being affected quite as bad as in previous years:.
There is a connection here to work done previously for TUI with the Better World Detectives.
That has all been placed in perspective now. May be worth writing a little update for the
resources on the impact of the pandemic on the area.
2020 is also the landmark year for biodiversity. That effort has been hampered by the arrival
of the virus.
A fascinating article was published in National Geographic in early July. It referred to
horseshoe crabs, fascinating creatures. They have a primitive look to them.
It seems they are also vital for our search for a vaccine. According to the article:
Every year,pharmaceuticalcompaniesroundup half a million Atlantichorseshoe crabs, bleed them,
and return them to the ocean— afterwhich many will die. This practice,combined with
overharvesting of thecrabsforfishing bait,hascaused a decline in the species in the region in the
Worth reading the whole piece:
8. Water Cycle and hydrological processes
In many cities, workers were out early spraying disinfectant. Benches, cash points and shop
fronts are among touchable surfaces being sprayed with disinfectant. Councils want to
reassure workers and shoppers that things are clean, but where does this disinfectant go but
into drains and thus into rivers. What impact will it be having on riparian ecosystems in the
There was also a worrying report regarding potential mass graves in South Africa which would
have an impact on groundwater supply - I suspect this would be an issue for other locations
There are also burial plot shortages in many cities
At the interfacebetweenphysicaland human,we have severalother
9. 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 was 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 in this area:
This one explores the health impacts of climate change.
Perhaps we at least will see an end to ‘big oil’
There was a useful podcast for Earth Day 2020 discussingparallels between Coronavirus and
Don’t forget to take Paul Turner’s Climate Change Ignorance Test
Mark Maslin’s piece too on the reports of warming climates in the future.
Also check out the RGS Policy paper on Net Carbon Zero published in early May
For more on this, Paul Turner and Phil Bell organised the Big Climate Teach In for the 4th
of July. Videos of the event remain online after the event has finished at the YouTube link
B: Human Geography themes
10. Urbanisationand Urban Spaces
“This was the week our cities died” is the title of this provocative piece which got me going
on somethinking in this regard, and the nature of our teaching on urban models and structure.
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’. I guess this document is suggesting we will have another
iteration of the geography specifications and agreed powerful knowledge.
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, eight 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 as a
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– howit’sapportioned,howit’sgoverned,how it’smadeavailableto someand denied to others
– is alwayspolitical.The middleclasses,accustomed to constantmobility whilevalorising thehomeas
a place of comfort and safety, balk at the thought of being unable to up sticks at will.
We are going to need parks and open spaces more.
New Statesman: Why people need parks
We will also have to change the relationship we have with public spaces as businesses look
to move outside and perhaps occupy pavements or squares:
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.
“peoplesurvive difficultyby coming togetherascommunitiesof care, notpulling apartin a retreat
into individualism” OluTimehin Adegbeye,2020
“Housing is a condition to theright 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
Check out this piece by Michael Batty of CASA in early July.
A must read piece.
The virus is now being used as a convenient reason to remove planning structures which are
in place to protect land from unsuitable developments.
Robert Jenrick has been busy saying various things over the first week of August. He has
ignored advice on the “new slums” that will be built - he won’t have to live in them of course:
The piece is part of a series on Post Covid 19 Urban Futures put together by UCL - a useful
blog and webinar series which will grow over time.
Journal of Futures Studies:
The Alexandra Panman blog is also excellent:
Inequalities are explored here:
This piece by Gaby Hinsliff suggests social pods of people as a future model.
One particular urban space which may become at a premium is a space for a burial. Some
cities have limited cemetery space, and that space is running out - I won’t make my usual joke
here about cemeteries being ‘the dead centre of town’:
I think we may also see a move to the suburbs for space rather than small expensive flats in
city centres: https://news.trust.org/item/20200602091720-utel6/ - for those who can afford to
of course. This will also connect with greater take up of home working - if you don’t need to
commute into the city centre you don’t need to live in the expensive commuter belt.
Rightmove’s data shows searches for one bedroom flats have been replaced by searches for
houses with gardens or some sort of open space:
An exodus from London - counterurbanisation example for UK cities:
A piece in the FT cautions city dwellers from the move. The idea of the rural idyll is one
explored in the past by Richard Yarwood and others for the GA:
https://www.ft.com/content/449dd0af-438d-423d-9c94-249dfbd914bb - where to move for
longer, fewer commutes
Working from home in the countryside:
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 SouthAfrican waste-picker on life under lockdown and the impossibility of continuing
to work without risk.
Diana Mitlin also picked up someof the issues facing cities in the ‘global South’ in this blogpost
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,themaskrevealsfarmorethan ithides.Itexposestheworld’spoliticaland economic
relations for what they are: vectors of self-interest that ordinarily lie obscured under glib talk of
globalisation and openness.Forthedemagogueswho governso much of theworld,thepandemichas
provided an unimpeachable excuse to fulfil their dearest wishes: to nail national borders shut, to tar
every outsideras suspicious, and to act as if their own countries must be preserved above all others.
Further reports have picked up on that same theme - the youthful nature of Africa’s population
means that it has been affected much less than many were fearing. An important demographic
theme to explore perhaps when looking at population pyramids. Perhaps another benefit of a
wide-based population pyramid.
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 in a growing
archive of entries as we moved into June.
This article from Places Journal talks about the experience of the city through sound, a process
An excellent read, with thanks to Stephen Schwab.
Coughs and sneezes turn paranoid heads; ventilators whoosh in hospital rooms; streets go suddenly
quiet,aspeopleshelterinside.Kidshomefromschoolcreatea new daytimesoundtrack,and neighbors
gatheron balconiesin theevening,to sing togetheror applaud health workers.Asphysiciansmonitor
the rattle of afflicted lungs, the rest of us listen for acoustic cues that our city is convalescing, that
we’ve turned inward to prevent transmission.
Urban areas may also be noisier from construction which may be allowed to continue later:
It also featured on Radio 3’s ‘Late Junction’ programme:
For some home is not a safe place. Katherine Brickell explores this in a piece here for RGS
d) Future city centres and urban design
happens-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 interesting.
Some cities are giving over space to transport other than the car:
Rachael Unsworth mused on the potential for improving things as regards transport:
It included a quote from this Carbon Brief collection of views:
Also efforts to reduce light pollution in future cities:
Paris is planning to give less space to cars to help with the 15 minute city idea, which was
introduced by city Mayor Anne Hidalgo in February, influenced by Carlos Moreno. This will be
one of the first resources that I produce as part of the next phase of this resource.
“ville du quart d’heure”
Melbourne has a similar 20 minute model.
I’m investigating the work of Carlos Moreno in this area for an early resource as part of this
document’s impact into the classroom.
Hidalgo’s manifesto promises:
A Paris to live in, a Paris that innovates, a Paris that breathes,
A Paris in common.
An interview with Anne Hidalgo in July in Time magazine had some useful quotes for this
piece as well regarding not wanting to go back to how the city used to be.
There’s also a related article in the ‘Globe and Mail’, featuring a number of Canadian cities.
A very useful piece.
With the Olympics set to open in Paris in 4 years time this is an interesting time to follow
developments in this city for the next few years perhaps with students who are setting off on
their KS3 journey in September 2020 - a longitudinal case study….
The games are planned to be close to the city centre using existing venues.
https://www.paris2024.org/en/# - see menu top left to access more information.
Master plan below (draft) - the paralympic plan also available from the same site:
This is an area to be further developed. C40 Cities - they have a Knowledge Hub:
Financial Times piece: https://www.ft.com/content/c1a53744-90d5-4560-9e3f-17ce06aba69a
The World Economic Forum has published a very useful piece on how future cities will
change, including its architecture and organisation.
● With city dwellers forced to stay home during lockdowns, some architects are
rethinking urban infrastructure to promote a more local lifestyle and help people
adapt to a post-pandemic world.
● "The benefits of a well-planned compact city include shorter commute times, cleaner
air, and reduced noise and the consumption of fossil fuels and energy."
● From making city cycling safer to promoting social distancing green spaces, these
are the changes we could see in the coming years.
Connections are key to transmission: https://www.economist.com/graphic-
Image source: The Economist
A reminder of Tobler’s First Law of Geography - “near things are more related than distant
things” - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobler%27s_first_law_of_geography
Rowan Moore on how to design better cities:
Geographers started to be consulted at the end of May, with a BBC piece exploring how
working from home might change the city. Paul Cheshire from the LSE and other experts are
quoted in this piece: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52767773 which connects with the idea
of building on Green-belt land. Paul Chatterton from the University of Leeds has written a
very useful blog on how Leeds could become a more sustainable post-Covid-19 city.
heres-how/ - ideal for OCR B Geographers.
dont-know-how-yet?CMP=share_btn_tw - an excellent piece here with some good links to
explore on urban futures and resilience.
“It’sgoing to be terrible fora while,” saysSanjoy Chakravorty,a professorof geography and urban
studiesat Temple University.“Peoplehaveto getused to the idea of sitting closely again.Then they
haveto haveenough job securityand money to blow 100 quid on an evening of interpretative
But he is among thosewho arebullish on the prospectsof a resurgenceof city life. “The modern city
is indestructible,”he says.“Fires, earthquakes,bombings,theblitzof London orthe siege of
Stalingrad:thesecities lostpopulation,butthen they cameback.”
The high number of cases in New York has also not got unnoticed, and the impact of
density is something which may be worth exploring. I can think of various tools which can be
used to uncover population density in urban areas in the UK and elsewhere. Would make a
good enquiry topic I think. Steve Brace shared a Directions blog post (reposted from the
Conversation website) by Colin McFarlane from Durham Universityon this very theme on
the 4th of June, on how the urban poor have been particularly badly hit:
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 in
aisles and pausing - speeding up our shopping and buying fewer things perhaps in
the future, except the huge queues outside IKEA and McDonalds as they reopened
in June 2020 suggested otherwise
A useful piece from Richard Florida on CityLab in April 2020 on the ‘Geography of
CityLab also started sharing the first submissions of lockdown maps from readers:
Negotiations will also happen (they already are) when meeting walkers and cyclists:
Another new CityLab piece was released on June 11th, which connected with the idea of the
‘local’ and the changing neighbourhoods as lockdown began to be lifted, and anti-racist
protestors filled the streets of many cities - an extra dynamic to the existing one:
Source: Daniel Pardo, Maryland
Bob Lang talked about this in a Discover the World Education Teachmeet.
You can watch a repeat here:
Bob Lang is on from 28 minutes in talking about his work with Survey123 to explore similar
ideas with students.
I’m on from 2 hours and 4 minutes in talking about this very document and the background to
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.
Image copyright: Reuters
Our health may well rely on our homes. We need a Healthy Homes Act this Geography
Directions piece suggests:
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.
Another aspect of urban spaces which has not been obvious to many for some time is the
availability of public toilets. Many people who are able bodied and also able to pay to eat in a
cafe or drink in a pub haven’t had to worry about finding a toilet even as public conveniences
have been closed down in recent years. Now that pubs have been closed, the gaps are
becoming obvious and public urination etc. have grown in recent weeks - again, this is one
of those public/private conflict examples:
This also connects with the ideas in Leslie Kern’s book on the ‘Gendered City’ which I am
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)
Also check out the Manchester Urban Institute Blog
for a range of useful blog-posts including one on
social distancing and parks, and one on the data
which shows how our cities have changed over the
last few months.
f) Urban Resilience
Seaside and ex-industrial towns have already had a tough time economically, and they are
now potentially being affected more by the virus. This Sky News piece suggests they may also
be worst hit by these:
A BBC piece from early June on how coastal resorts were faring - badly it seems:
Even the city of LA, bastion of the car is apparently turning into a city of walkers
Tim Marshall took a cycle ride around London in mid-May and sent this tweet which could be
useful for a ‘changing places’ topic. I’m collating images like this on a Pinterest board.
We are seeing lots more of these ad-hoc adjustments to the situation:
There will definitely be some changes in urban areas.
For this I recommend following the work of Paul Chatterton, who is Professor of Urban
Futures at the University of Leeds. Twitter: @PaulChatterton9
Events such as this Webinar show the groundswell for change in urban areas, with respect to
housing (people in one-bedroom flats while houses remain empty, wealthy politicians in
houses with extensive grounds preventing others from accessing parks etc.
Professor Paul Chatterton presented a talk entitled ‘How to build sustainable cities after
The power of place.
I referred to this in an IB Webinar I spoke in:
Here’s the presentation (found in v6.0 and later editions)
A chance to Build Back Better - here are the principles from:
Thoughts on working from home
Image copyright: Weall Alliance
g) Desire Lines
A new addition for mid-June was an article in ‘The Guardian’ on desire lines. Once again
there was a lovely illustration:
Image copyright: Rose Blake / The Guardian
People are now finding new routes to avoid others - “elective easements” as Robert
MacFarlane calls them.
“In a near future, some of the Covid-19 effects on the urbanscapes will be part of this narrative,
reminding us of the importance of human behaviour in shaping the city space.”
Finding these routes might form part of a fieldwork activity as well. Explore local parks to see
how they have been changed. Several people got in touch to share some local examples they
had seen on their lockdown exercise routes.
h) Recovery from the Coronavirus
On the 15th of June many non-essential shops were able to reopen and the queues started
to form. Picture of Primark prompted many comments, and Bicester village was rammed with
no social distancing evident. Andy Beckett suggested that cities would recover because history
suggests that they always do:
– about who previously sat in your bus seat.
Some areas are going to struggle more than others.
Coastal cities data:
The Centre for Towns published a report on the future for the towns, from which this chart
above is taken. Small coastal towns are not as resilient as other places perhaps if tourist
income dries up this summer:
I’m also conscious that most of the links in the document are either UK or US specific so I
am keen to have some other perspectives.
Thanks to Rafael De Miguel González, President of EuroGeo for the link to this Spanish
piece on how cities are likely to recover (translated from Spanish) through their rebirth.
According to a Deloitte survey,in London half of the construction companiesareplanning to reduce
their projectsin the faceof an expected 20-30% drop in officeoccupancy rates.
Bloomberg shared an excellent piece on our urban futures, with a nice moving image header:
11. Employment: Primary,Secondaryand Tertiary
The Economy has changed… which jobs will disappear forever?
What will the UK / global unemployment rate be like after this? It is clear that it may be higher
than any point since the 1980s, possibly earlier - the 1970s and the ‘3 day week’ has reared
For example, ask students to analyse this cartoon and explain what its meaning is - this has
become more relevant actually as the weeks have passed - particularly for those who have
fallen through the cracks of the furlough scheme:
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 interest.
Check out recent work by Matt Podbury on the circular economy as well.
Is this time for a transition to a green economy - perhaps the final chance and warning:
People will also perhaps rememberthose 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. The BBC had a piece on which areas had the most people furloughed:
This Australian piece shows how GIS can be used to see which areas of Melbourne have
been worst hit financially - perhaps a model to use for an activity
Oxfam’s campaign also reminds us how many people globally are in danger of being
pushed into poverty.
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 makeup 70 percentof health workersglobally and provide75 percentof unpaid care,looking
after children, the sick and the elderly. Women are also more likely to be employed in poorly paid
precariousjobsthataremostatrisk.Morethan onemillion Bangladeshigarmentworkers –80percent
of whomare women–havealready been laid off or sent homewithoutpay afterordersfrom western
clothing brands were cancelled or suspended.
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.
In mid-June we also had someindicators on the jobs situation, with over 600 000 people going
off the pay-roll. This has a knock-on for tax revenue of course. Perhaps if very rich people paid
more tax, or large companies operating in the UK? Just a thought.
What follows are some examples of particular industries which may see
a. Retail and the changing High Street
Will the High Street survive the virus?
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,professorof food policy atCityUniversity,London.Therestcomes fromyourFriday 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 thefood supply] iscutoff,and 60 per cent hasto dealwith 100 per cent,well,
you’vegotstressandstrains.It’sinevitable.Weneed to bethinking very carefully aboutrenationalising
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.
This was taken up again by John Harris in the Observer on the 2nd of August, when we also
were aware of Amazon’s plans to deliver groceries.
Amazon’s sheer scale means that the effects of what it does transcend the fortunes of the company and amount
to deep social transformations. For its retail customers, consumerism is no longer a matter of venturing outside
the home but the lonely transcendence of ordering and then getting. Most of Amazon’s workers, meanwhile, are
either shut behind windowless walls, doing the minute and monotonous tasks that punctuate the workings of
machines, or frantically delivering parcels. Complaints about the company’s treatment of its employees are now
a constant, but – like those about Amazon’s record on tax – they rarely gain real traction. Prior to delivery, the
average Amazon package is thought to require just one minute of labour: soon enough, this will surely dwindle
An excellent NYT piece suggested that we are going to see the endof the departmentstore,
as many were already struggling before this crisis, and we are not shopping in the same way.
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. This was later broken into
during the events following the death of George Floyd, which has caused other large scale
change and reevaluation since early June.
Image copyright: 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 atthe otherside of this,there are very few who arelikely to survive.”
The High St of towns and cities across the UK will also be reshaped without some changes to
retail trade / rents:
The Street will still be there, but what will the building use be along it?
Several other chains announced hundreds / thousands of job losses in early July, with over
12 000 jobs lost in a day or so, followed by further job losses.
We are buying certain items in higher quantities - putting together an activity on the ups and
downs of the High St.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53484355 - tea and biscuits and books
Lewis Cotter has shared a resource which shows how High St. names treated their workforce
and suppliers during the lockdown, and it may be that people will decide to support the
companies who treated their workforce the best.
It’s also worth remembering that in the UK we have a choice of stores, from Aldi and Lidl up
to Waitrose and M&S for food. In most of India, people shop at stores called kirana shops.
These have little stock, precarious supply chains and crowded interiors which are difficult to
keep a social distance inside. There are apparently millions of these stores, and 90% of food
is bought in them. This means there are few alternatives for food supplies. People in India
have never seen their cities so quiet, as they are always teeming with people:
WIthin a few weeks, in early May they were able to launch an online store offering deliveries
and orders. Remarkable ingenuity.
A growing part of the culture of the High St. was the presence of coffee shops - the
independents such as Ginger in Broomhill, Sheffield or the big chains including Starbucks,
Cafe Nero, Costa and others. The sudden closure of cafes has changed the way that people
consume coffee, but in what ways? Jennifer Ferreira has research coffee for some years,
and is now researching changing coffee consumption following the closure of cafes - one of
the few research projects I’ve seen surrounding the virus:
Please help Jennifer with her research here:
One suggestion is that cafes may move outside and use street stalls rather than the previous
layouts. This may be part of a changing retail offering:
Another concern is that independent coffee outlets may be less financially able to ride this out
and close, leaving us with mostly chain coffee outlets in the future:
fb56d5e96738 - this may happen with other sectors of retail as well, reducing the diversity of
offerings that we have in city centres and perhaps making them more of a clone town with
A Hubbub piece on our changing shopping habits - localism and the “fifteen minute city”
The industry needs Govt. help, which is unlikely to be enough:
Apparently one fifth of all American retail workers have been furloughed:
One idea for an activity here: Centre for Cities recovery tracker for UK cities - a data dashboard
- an activity to develop I think:
Monitor recover over the next few months
May save some data now for local cities such as Cambridge and Norwich.
Of course, there will always be somebody who will find a way to exploit a situation. One
expression of this is a store in Miami, which offers Covid-19 essentials in one place:
Thanks to Oli Mould for the lead to this story
Shopping malls may become residential developments:
There are some obvious links between working from home and the High St. If people head
for the office, there is a greater chance that they will be physically in a town or city. They
may walk from the railway station past other shops towards their place of work. This means
that home workers aren’t buying a coffee, pastry, sandwich or other impulse purchases: the
trays of doughnuts because it’s their birthday etc. are all lost sales. People need to be
persuaded back into city centres if shops are going to survive.
This is a changed High St environment.
Questions from Stephen Schwab
A piece in The Guardian by Gavin Chait in late July suggested shops would have to move to
where the commuters were
For theCity of London,hometo 7,000 but place of workfor 400,000, a 10% decline in commuting
could result in themigration of 17,000 officejobsand almost8,000 retail jobs.Butwhen peoplework
at homethey need morefromwherethey live.
By the end of July, there were suggestions that this would result in a movement of offices to
the suburbs where people would work from home, and that this could revive the High Street.
A list of job losses produced in late July 2020 - over 60 000 jobs lost in total.
Again, this links to inequality:
b. Gig Economy
This sector of the economy, which has grown dramatically in recent years, has been
particularly affected by the virus.
Uber has been badly affected - sharing a car is not felt to be safe - black cabs with screens
are perhaps still relatively OK. Not sure if they have been running in London.