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Focus on Geography

16 Apr 2020 6:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

by Iraphne Childs

Geography in Australian universities

As RGSQ President, I’m fortunate to be able to represent the RGSQ at the meetings of the Australian Academy of Sciences National Committee for Geographical Sciences (NCGS). During the most recent NCGS teleconference, on 20 February, it was decided to send a letter to all Australian University Vice-Chancellors entitled “Responding to Australia’s current crises: Geography’s place” - emphasising the contributions that Geography makes in tackling the challenges of our environment and society – a timely reminder following the weather events of the 2019-2020 summer and the impact of the coronavirus. Universities play a critical role in educating the next generation of professional geographers and in improving the geographical literacy of Australian citizens. We encourage universities to support more Geographers and Geography courses! The VCs have been provided with copies of Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future, published by the Australian Academy of Science in late 2018. Prepared by the National Committee for Geographical Sciences the report presents the state of play of Geography as a discipline in Australia and provides a unified vision for Australian geography over the next decade.

Geography and the spread of COVID-19:
In the wider world, of course, the news is full of depressing statistics and daily updates about COVID-19. Predictions of the further course of the epidemic are decisive in order to deploy targeted disease control measures. Those of you familiar with Swedish Geographer Torsten Hägerstrand’s early work on diffusion theory will recognise that this was the basis for many early epidemiological studies by medical geographers mapping the spatial-temporal diffusion of diseases.

As was presented by Dr. Thomas Sigler at our March lecture evening, the evolving field of network-based modelling is beneficial for an accurate forecast of epidemic outbreaks e.g. the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. Studies are already underway using network analysis to model the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Hubei Province, China. The network used is composed of the cities in Hubei and their interactions (e.g. traffic flow).

I hope all RGSQ members will stay safe and avoid the virus over the weeks and months ahead.

Source:
WHO Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report –50

References:
Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future 

Prasse, B. et.al (2020) Network Prediction of the 2019-CoV Epidemic Outbreak in the Chinese Province Hubei Physics and Society 12 February 

Contributed by
Dr. Iraphne Childs, President RGSQ 



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