New Ideas Festival

This week it is the New Ideas Festival funded by the Lancaster University Alumni office. The aim of the festival is to talk about the research we do at Lancaster University with members of the local community in Lancaster. The Festival has been advertised far and wide; an interview with BBC Radio Lancashire, local newspapers, poster, leaflets and much more!

As part of the week long festival, so far I have visited Lancaster Girls Grammar School and presented my research on grandfathers. I really enjoyed the experience. I kept noticing myself saying technical words that I must try to avoid tomorrow when I present my poster in the town square and present my slides at the PKN. More info about the schools visits (and the other events happening) is available on the event  Facebook page.

To add novelty to my school presentation I first introduced myself and then did a general discussion about geography and what geographers do using a range of different photographs, from volcanoes, to weather, to food and health and poverty. I asked the audience to write topics on a balloon as was suggested in the training session. The Head of Sixth Form at the school really liked this idea for using with her own students. It proved to be a useful aid for getting students to think about geography as a subject and to share their ideas about what we study. I then explained that my research was closer to home and that geographers are interested in a broad range of topic including family, gender and identity. Using blue and pink post-its and several carefully selected words I asked them to write down the words they associated with men and women.

I used this idea once is an undergraduate lecture. It worked really well with a larger group. I asked them to hold up the post-it they had written the male words on and all but one had written these on the blue post-it (just as they did at the school!) and the female words on the pink post-it. It is a really novel way of demonstrating how gender and gendered stereotypes influence what we do and how we behave. In the teaching session the person who had done it the opposite way round said they knew what I was trying to do and so challenged me. A great example of explaining how gendered ideals can be challenged and altered 😀

So far, the festival is going well. One more group of PhD students is visiting schools today and then the main event begins tomorrow. If you are local to Lancaster, pop along and see what we are up to! If not, I shall be updating again very soon!


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