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Strategy Empower • Amplify • Engage • Sustain

From the Director

Professor Joe Smith

The Society’s mission to ‘advance geographical science’ has been a keystone of our work throughout our history. Our strategy expresses this in terms of a vision for geography and geographers that places the subject and the Society at the heart of progress towards a more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable world.

The strategy is structured around four key aims:

1. to empower and support geographers in the gaining and sharing of geographical knowledge

2. to amplify the contribution that geography makes to understanding the world and the difference it makes to all our lives

3. to engage, serve and develop the Society’s membership

4. to sustain the reputational, financial and institutional future of the Society itself

To meet these aims, we will continue to build on our work providing access to the best possible resources, supporting the professional development of geographers, and ensuring that the discipline – and its ability to connect the physical and social sciences – is widely appreciated across all sectors of society, including the general public, policymakers, civil society, and business.

For the Society to remain a vibrant and relevant membership organisation, learned society and professional body, it is essential we retain the enthusiasm and expertise of our current Fellows and members, while reaching and engaging with new ones. Alongside this we need to nurture and protect diverse income streams, well-supported and well-trained staff, appropriate technology, and good governance structures.

Unlike our previous strategic plans, the new strategy is not time-bound. Instead, it will be reviewed at regular intervals by Council to ensure it remains fit for purpose. This, and a more agile approach to its implementation, will equip us to take full advantage of emergent opportunities and act to mitigate challenges as they arise.

Vision, mission and principles

Vision

For geography and geographers to be at the heart of developing a world that is more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.

Mission

The Society is dedicated to the advancement of geographical science and its application to the challenges facing the world’s people, places and environments.

Principles

The Society:

1. Seeks to reduce the environmental impact of its activities and encourages others to do likewise.

2. Works towards greater equality, diversity and inclusion within its practices and activities as well as across the wider geographical community.

3. Recognises the breadth of geographical interests that people bring to the Society and reflects these in its governance and activities.

4. Demonstrates professionalism in its work and encourages the wider geographical community to do likewise.

5. Seeks partnerships that enhance the impact of geography, and its own work.

6. Strives for high quality, and welcomes constructive feedback.

7. Is innovative, responsive, agile, efficient and transparent.

The strategy is informed by these principles and is structured around four key aims: to empower, amplify, engage and sustain, geography and geographers.

1. Empower and support geographers, and those applying geographical expertise and approaches, in the development and sharing of geographical knowledge.

To advance the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of geographical knowledge, it is important that pupils, students, teachers, academics, professionals, and expeditioners have access to high quality resources, are well supported in their professional development and are able to achieve their full potential.

To achieve this, the Society will:

1. Advocate for geography to ensure it remains a vibrant discipline in school and at university, and that the value of its research findings and its importance to supporting positive change in society, the economy, the environment and in policy decision making are fully recognised. Support the teaching and learning of geography and its uptake in schools by providing high quality resources, professional support to geography teachers, and demonstrating geography’s value to further study and careers, with additional support for underrepresented and underserved groups and schools.

2. Convene and support the academic community to advance, interpret and share geographical knowledge fully, to ensure geography students have access to high quality courses that facilitate their development, and to ensure higher education institutions are able to meet the challenges of an everchanging policy environment.

3. Work with employers to ensure recognition for the subject-specific skills, insights and knowledge of geographers, and those applying geographical approaches and expertise, in the workplace, and increase the number of Chartered Geographers to ensure high professional standards.

4. Demonstrate the many ways in which geographical skills and knowledge are embedded in decision making at all levels of civil society, government, business, and industry, and further promote their use.

5. Support those undertaking geographical field research and expeditions in order to facilitate safe, ethical and purposeful fieldwork.

2. Amplify the contribution that geography makes to understanding the world and how it makes a difference to everyone’s lives.

For the unique contribution that geography brings to the understanding of an ever-changing world to be fully realised, it is vital that the discipline, and its ability to connect the physical and social sciences and humanities, is widely appreciated across all sectors of society including the general public, civil society, policymakers and business.

To achieve this, the Society will:

1. Demonstrate the relevance and impact of geographical research, skills and knowledge to broad public, civil society, policy and business audiences.

2. Recognise excellence in advancing geographical knowledge and practice.

3. Develop the skills, infrastructure and partnerships needed to generate high quality geographical content that can be shared globally, including as mass media outputs.

4. Use an inclusive definition of geography and promote the distinctive capabilities that arise from its distinctive position, breadth and interdisciplinarity.

5. Use the Society’s reputation and convening power to develop and maintain effective networks of influence.

3. Engage, serve and develop the Society’s membership.

For the Society to remain a vibrant and relevant membership organisation, learned society and professional body, it is essential to retain the enthusiasm and expertise of the Society’s current Fellows and members, while reaching and engaging new ones.

To achieve this, the Society will:

1. Ensure the vibrancy and relevance of geography and the Society’s work by actively seeking and enabling the participation of underrepresented groups.

2. Become more inclusive and diverse in terms of staff, members, trustees, audiences and outputs, and promote the Society as a welcoming institutional home for people with a wide range of experiences, interests and expertise.

3. Recognise and reward the importance of the contribution of Fellows and members to the Society’s work.

4. Respond to the changing expectations and needs of potential members, in particular young people, in order to provide membership experiences that are valued at all stages of life.

5. Further develop, and invest in, the activities and capabilities that are required to support a strong regional, national and international presence for the Society.

6. Increase, and better target, the use of digital media to communicate and engage with Fellows and members, while ensuring positive engagement for those without digital access is maintained.

4. Sustain the reputational, financial and institutional future of the Society.

To deliver the Society’s objectives and achieve its Vision requires diverse income streams, well-supported and well-trained staff, appropriate technology, and good governance structures.

To achieve this, the Society will:

1. Promote a working culture of collaboration, flexibility and mutual support, together with processes that enable the development of capable, empowered and motivated staff.

2. Maintain an agile Enterprise strategy that pursues financial stability in the context of far-reaching economic uncertainties, while also actively pursuing new sources of income.

3. Sustain existing, and develop new, relationships with corporate and other sponsors and partners, valuing their financial support, while recognising the mutual benefits of collaborative activity towards shared goals.

4. Invest in the Society’s building in South Kensington to lower running costs, reduce environmental impact, grow income, and provide an inclusive, welcoming and inspiring place for all.

5. Encourage research and support informed debate on its unique Collections and history, to enable critical engagement with the development of the Society as an institution and geography as a discipline.

6. Ensure the balance of representation at all levels of governance reflects the breadth of the Society’s purpose and constituencies.

+44 (0)20 7591 3000 | director@rgs.org

Image credits: Panel 8 Photography | Hannah Roe | RGS-IBG | Ellie Morris | Roger Moody