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Communicating Geomorphology
Dr Lucy Clarke, Dr Emma Shuttleworth, Dr Daniel Schillereff


Despite geomorphology’s importance in a range of environmental management issues, the term has recently been removed from the revised secondary school curriculum and its absence from media coverage of geomorphological hazards (e.g. floods and landslides) and geoscientific documentaries is notable. Recent publications have highlighted the challenges currently faced in the communication of geomorphology, the decline in the use of the term in academic literature and a lack of public awareness of the term. The academic geomorphological community are mindful of these issues, and measures have been taken to address them (e.g. 10 reasons why geomorphology is important), but there has been little evaluation of how geomorphology is perceived from outside of the academy. An understanding of how a wider audience ‘see’ geomorphology and its relevance is vital, in order to determine: (a) the type of material and services the BSG should be promoting, and (b) how to most effectively disseminate relevant information.


The aim of this group is to address these needs by collecting the viewpoints of different groups, which have varying levels of interaction with geomorphology. Through discussion with target audiences we want to find out what they understand as geomorphology, how they value it, and what they think that we as a Society can contribute to what they do. This will allow us to determine how best geomorphology should be communicated and promoted, in order to raise the profile of the term, discipline, and Society.

This will be achieved through:

  1. An online survey of the BSG membership to canvass the views of a large body of academics, and to co-opt members interested in being involved with the group;
  2. A series of focus groups with key audiences such as school teachers, policy makers, the general public, and mass media to gauge opinion on how geomorphology can best be communicated to different audiences;
  3. Organising hands-on events to facilitate the wider BSG membership to communicate their expertise on areas of geomorphological research determined to be of most need to specific interest groups based on their feedback;
  4. A dedicated ‘Communicating Geomorphology’ session at the BSG Annual General Meeting 2017 to disseminate findings and stimulate further debate and action within the BSG membership.

Outputs will include:

  1. Annual reports on the progress made by the group
  2. Regular blog posts, aimed at stimulating outreach activity within the BSG membership,
  3. Publication of an ESEX commentary of the main findings,
  4. The findings from the FTWG will be collated, analysed and published in an Open Access document as a series of evidence-based recommendations for the optimal methods of communicating geomorphology to each identified audience, form which future BSG communication strategies and wider geomorphological outreach activities can be developed.

For further information please contact the working group convenors: Lucy Clarke ([email protected]),  Emma Shuttleworth ([email protected], or Daniel Schillereff ([email protected])