Friday 31 August 2012

Friday Photo (46) - Disaster Planning in the Solomon Islands

A list of evacuation sites along with maps detailing hazardous areas, on a notice board in Lemboni, Solomon Islands. We were told this is the only one of its type in the area.
Photo Courtesy of Greg Smith/David Cavell (University of Leicester), August 2012

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Blog Watch

What does a toilet, higher education and
migration have in common?
(Source: Wiki)
A few blog posts have caught my attention in recent days. Each of the three blogs listed below talks about something over than geoscience (sanitation and access to toilets, higher education in war-torn Afghanistan, and migration) however they are all linked to situations where geoscientists may be involved. The need for geoscientists to be able to communicate with multiple interested parties, from different backgrounds, is something we have championed on this blog and through the GfGD network. Geoscience can't improve the world in it's own bubble - but alongside health experts, education experts and law experts (amongst many others). Hopefully these few articles will give you a taste of the much broader context of geoscience:

The need for decent sanitation facilities across the world is staggering. An estimated 2.5billion people lack access to a basic toilet. In between addressing malaria, TB and other killer diseases, Bill Gates has been trying to re-invent the toilet - you can read more on the Tearfund 'Just Policy' blog.

This blog, on the Science magazine page, looks at the role and future of higher education in Afghanistan. 

An analysis of the legality of crossing international borders when faced with a natural catastrophe. This article was posted last week on the Guardian 'Poverty Matters' Blog.

Monday 27 August 2012

GfGD National Committee

At the end of our first academic year of existence, we've reached an exciting place... but we have much more we would like to achieve. 

We'd like to develop more University Groups, more placement opportunities, more geoscience resources to support NGOs overseas, and more training opportunities for young geoscientists. As our vision statement says, we would like to encourage and support more young geoscientists in the growth of appropriate skills and knowledge in order that they can make a positive, effective, and greater contribution to international development throughout their careers. We want to make sure geoscientists are playing their full role in fighting poverty, and improving the lives of some of the world's poorest people. 

In order to do this, we would like to establish our first GfGD National Committee - a group of students and recent graduates ready to volunteer some of their time to help manage a specific area of GfGDs work and contribute to the wider leadership and development of GfGD. (Please note, for logistical reasons, and to help us meet our initial objectives, these positions are currently only open to those residing in the UK).   

We are advertising a number of positions, details of which can be found on our website at If you are a student or fairly recent graduate, and interested in applying for one of these positions, download the application guidelines and application form from this same page. 

A completed application form, together with your CV should be returned to (joel[at] by the end of 21st September 2012.

If you are reliable, enjoy working as part of a team, and passionate about seeing good geoscience supporting and informing development then we would love to have your application to join us on this next, and exciting, stage of our journey. 

Friday 24 August 2012

Friday Photo (45) - Lahar Dam (Mt. Merapi)

A new type of dam installed on the flanks of Mt. Merapi
that will hopefully minimise the risk of damage further downstream.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Westoby - University of Leicester

Wednesday 22 August 2012

CAFOD/GfGD Placement - Successful Candidate

Congratulations to Ellie Murtagh, who has recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Geology and Physical Geography. Ellie was the successful applicant for the placement we have organised with the international NGO CAFOD.

Over a week in September she will be working with their Humanitarian Department, writing a briefing note on catchment management, and helping to run a workshop on building community and organisational resilience. This will give her a fantastic chance to network with regional managers from around the world.

On hearing the news Ellie said "I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity! I would like to learn more about the important role geoscience plays in improving the lives of others around the world. I hope this will give me a good insight into international development and show me how to gain a career in this field."

Ellie will be writing about her experiences in the development sector for the GfGD Blog after completing her placement, so do look out for her report. We're hoping to advertise another placement with CAFOD over Easter 2013, and are currently looking for other organisations to partner with. For details of placements as and when they are advertised, please do like our facebook page or sign up for newsletters and information on our website.

Monday 20 August 2012

GfGD Summer Highlights

The Olympics are over and it's been a great summer for the UK and many other nations around the world. It's also been a great summer for GfGD.... here are our highlights! 

Earlier this month the Geological Society published an article we wrote about our work and future plans. This has led to a range of communications and expressions of interest which will hopefully lead to further University Groups being established, as well as other things. 

We have been following three students working in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands - doing fantastic work, and learning a lot of important skills. The impact that these placements will have on these three students will be long-lasting, and I'm sure will benefit their future work in many ways. We want to see these opportunities multiplied and expanded to students across the UK and beyond.

On the GfGD Blog we had over 5000 pageviews in July, our highest yet. We have also recently had an invitation to link our blog to the European Geosciences Union's Blog Network, a fantastic opportunity that will raise the profile of our work. Keep an eye out for further details.

We've finalised a placement opportunity for one successful candidate, in the Humanitarian Department of the NGO CAFOD. This experience will give them an important insight into the development sector, and will hopefully lead to placements for other students in the future. We'll be blogging about this more on Wednesday.

Finally, a year after our launch we're now ready to form a National Committee - offering students or recent graduates an opportunity to lead a specific area of our national programme. We will soon be advertising the following roles:
- Secretary
- Communications Officer
- Deputy Communications Officer
- University Group Officer
- Fundraising Officer
- Placements Officer
- Resources and Publications Officer
- Advocacy Development Officer
- Education and Careers Officer
Further details will be published very soon about each of these roles, and how to apply. These are fantastic opportunities to support the work of GfGD and gain important leadership experience. If you have a passion for development and seeing geoscience students equipped to play their full role in fighting poverty through good geoscience, and are a team-player, then we'd love to hear from you when applications open.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Summer Break

We'll be taking a short break from posting over the next week - but if you're keen to have your GfGD Blog fix - have a look at some of our most popular posts from the archive:
Last month we had a record 5000+ pageviews on the blog, our highest ever monthly total. Have a look at our archive, and see what all the fuss is! 

We'll be back with regular and new posts again on Monday 20th August 2012, including details of the successful candidate for the GfGD/CAFOD Placement.

Monday 6 August 2012

Geological Society of London - Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme

The Geological Society of London have recently advertised a fantastic opportunity for Fellows to spend time shadowing an MP or Peer. This will give them both parties a great opportunity to see how geoscience can be better integrated into policy.

The Geological Society writes on their website...
"Fellows will be able to improve their understanding of the working lives of politicians, and how they can make best use of their knowledge and skills to inform effective policy-making. MPs will in turn learn about the variety of activities undertaken by scientists, and how they can draw on the expertise and experience of our community. Each participating Fellow will spend two or three days shadowing an MP or peer in Parliament, with the possibility of further contact at the convenience of both parties. This might include a visit to the MP’s constituency, or to the Fellow’s place of work." 
Full details can be found on the Geological Society's website!

Friday 3 August 2012

Friday Photo (44) - Lahars on Mt. Merapi

On the south-east flank of Mt. Merapi, Indonesia, many river channels suffer from lahars in the rainy season and so the government has been building barriers to try and control them.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Westoby - University of Leicester

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Engaging with Parliament

A few weeks ago I was reading about the worsening situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unrest and conflict in this country has resulted in the death, abuse and rape of many innocent civilians. I decided to send an e-mail to my MP, Vince Cable, urging him to encourage the government to ensure they take all necessary steps to secure a long-lasting, sustainable peace for the people of that huge nation, and that humanitarian support is ready in the event that the situation worsens in the east of the country.

Within a week of sending the e-mail, I had a letter back from Dr Cable saying that he'd written to both the International Development Secretary and Foreign Secretary with the concerns I was expressing. After a further week I had a letter back from the Department for International Development. In the UK, we have significant opportunities we have to engage with those who make and shape important decisions, through our constituent MPs, and others. 

Whether it's writing a letter to your MP, sending them an e-mail, or arranging to meet with them to discuss an issue at one of their surgeries - we should all make the most of these opportunities to let our views be heard, to express our opinions (be they ones of agreement or disagreement), and to ask questions. It's very easy to be sceptical about politics, about what influence we have with these communications - but they are opportunities that many people across the world would love to have. I also sincerely believe that they are opportunities that have and can genuinely influence mindsets, votes and ultimately policy.

It's not just our local MPs we can engage with, you can also contact Government Ministers and Departments, All-Party Parliamentary Groups, MEPs and Devolved Administrations (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). You can find most relevant e-mails, and contact details on the internet using a search engine such as Google or this site is also very helpful!