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Alumni, staff, students and school pupils celebrate 75 years of Geography, Geology and the Environment at Kingston University

Posted Tuesday 7 May 2024

Alumni, staff, students and school pupils celebrate 75 years of Geography, Geology and the Environment at Kingston University Alumni from different generations at the event

Kingston University celebrated 75 years of the Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment with two special events at its award-winning Town House Building.

The subjects first began at the University's predecessor Kingston Technical College in 1949 and have remained a key area of Kingston's teaching and research right up to the present day.

A celebration event was held in the evening and saw alumni gather with current staff to celebrate the milestone anniversary. The alumni's memories of their time at Kingston were displayed on boards throughout Town House.

Head of the Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment Dr Pete Garside said: "It was an honour and privilege to meet such a wonderful range of diverse people on the day, to be inspired by the enthusiasm of the young people and overwhelmed by the kind words from alumni to whom the department means so much."

A panel featuring six alumni from the various eras of the Department was held at the event and featured former Kingston students who graduated from as recently as 2023 right back to 1967.

Elizabeth Aston, 80, who began studying at Kingston for a degree in geology in 1963, graduated in 1967 and went on to become British Petroleum's (BP) first ever female petroleum geologist. "Kingston was such a good place to learn because not only did they teach you academically, but they really prepared you for the working world," she said. "My headmistress at school didn't think girls should study scientific subjects so I was so grateful for the education Kingston gave me."

Another panel member, Mark Banfield, who graduated with a geography degree in 1998 has since gone on to be a CEO for software company 1E. "What I really learnt at Kingston was the importance of intellectual curiosity," he said. "It was great place to develop not only academically but as a person as well."

Dr Colin Marx, who studied then taught at the University between 2008 and 2011 looked back on his time at Kingston. "Kingston Geography gave me my first academic job so it was an experience that laid so many incredible foundations for what it meant to be a value-driven academic," he said. "I have sought to live up to the standards of teaching, collegiality and collective curiosity of the department ever since leaving. I have so many reasons to be grateful to Kingston Geography and it will always have a special place in my heart."

Earlier in the day, another event saw the department look to the future as young people from schools in the area were invited to submit their poster designs answering the question ‘What does climate change mean to you.'

They were then invited to Town House to find out which poster was the winner as Honeybee Cunliffe from Kingsley Academy was awarded a £150 Amazon voucher. Second and third in the competition received £100 and £50 vouchers respectively.

The competition was judged by CEO of Surrey Wildlife Trust Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, who praised the quality of all the entries.

At the event attendees also had the chance to hear a fascinating panel discussion on responding to climate change which included representatives from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and staff from Kingston University.

Categories: Alumni, Staff

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