Geographies of Difference

Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2012 Published: Wednesday, 23 May 2012 Written by Isabella Prentice

Geographical Association [GA] Conference 2012

Geographies of Difference

What a pleasure it was to be a delegate at the GA Annual conference in Manchester, United Kingdom! At the 2012 Conference there were over 700 delegates attending from 32 countries.



How did I get there?!!!! It all began with an advertisement seen in the 2010 Summer issue of the GA Teaching Geography. Upon seeing it, the idea took root to apply for grant funding to attend. Immediately, an online application was filled responding to all questions and sought funding. All fingers were crossed, hoping that the application would receive a favourable response. Guess what? An email was received stating that the deadline had long passed!!!!! However, it was not all bad as the mail indicated that the application would be forwarded for review for the 2012 year and VOILA! The application was successful and grant funding had been approved to attend GA Conference 2012.


The Conference had a packed and very interesting schedule. Prior to the actual conference dates, there were several activities, one was a Manchester Canal Tour. What was this? WOW!!!., a 4½ hour boat ride on Manchester’s canal.


The historical background, uses, changes and present day trend of and along the canal was discussed. The tour was led by Professor Michael Bradford.


For any one doing a course in Human Geography, this is an ideal field study in Urban Renewal.


A sumptuous 3 course meal was served on the boat. Additionally, there was a 1 hr stop over at the newly built Media City. Media City is the new location of BBC and ITV – a switch of its some 1600 jobs out of London. This area has undergone massive renewal. The delegates were given a historical background and present day trend of the area by a representative of the Peel Consortium.


The Actual conference was held at the University of Manchester on Sackville Street in the Renold Building. There were sessions covering all topics that gave a spin to the Conference’s theme of Differences.

There was a Land Use field trip within Manchester looking at Use through several different lenses. Three specific areas were chosen (a) Canal Street (b) China Town (c) Picadilly Gardens. Delegates who signed up spent about 3 hours going through the area and doing the field study not in the using format of a prepared questionnaire, but rather to be immersed in the environment as an active observer.


The Conference’s greatest strengths were

  • the networking among geography practitioners

  • the display by publishers/companies of up-to-date texts, technology, websites

  • the wealth of information given in a short space of time

  • the hands on workshops

  • the efficient GA personnel – GAIIF personnel, Conference Coordinator




Sincerest thanks to the GAIIF for making this possible. Also thanks to Kevin Cook, Laura Catherine and the ever bubbly Lucy Oxley. Folks you made my experience worth it. To all whom I interacted with in one way or another thanks for sharing.

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