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geographical societies

  Institutions established to promote the discipline of geography. Some early societies, both national (e.g. the Royal Geographical Society — RGS — and the American Geographical Society) and regional (e.g. the Manchester Geographical Society), were major forces in the nineteenth-century development of geography and its establishment as a school and university discipline; a number financed major expeditions which extended geographical knowledge (defined widely to incorporate other environmental sciences). They continue to play major roles in promoting geography, both as an academic discipline and as a subject of wider general interest.

Alongside these general societies, a number of professional associations for geographers were established in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such as the Geographical Association (GA, for teachers, mainly at school level) in the United Kingdom and the Institute of British Geographers (IBG, mainly for researchers and for teachers in higher education): the National Council for Geographical Education and the Association of American Geographers fulfil comparable roles in the United States. These societies, through conferences, seminars, specialist meetings and publications (including many of the leading academic research journals), participate in the promotion and dissemination of material about research advances and promote the discipline both politically and professionally. In the UK, the members of the RGS and IBG voted in 1993 to merge the two societies. (RJJ)

Suggested Reading Bell, M., Butlin, R.A. and Heffernan, M., eds, 1995: Geography and imperialism, 1820-1940. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Freeman, T.W. 1980: The Royal Geographical Society. In E.H. Brown, ed., Geography — yesterday and tomorrow. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. James, P.E. and Martin, G.J. 1978: The Association of American Geographers: the first seventy-five years 1904-1979. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Geographers. Steel, R.W. 1984: The Institute of British Geographers: the first fifty years. London: Institute of British Geographers.



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