Looking beyond the box-office: What it means to be an enchanted geographer

Geography plays a crucial role in understanding our world. It makes a vital contribution to our knowledge of the rapidly changing political, economical, social, technological, legal, environmental landscape. Geographers were among the first scientists to sound the alarm that human-induced changes to the environment were beginning to threaten life at a global scale.

What is geography?

noun: geography

  1. the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources and political and economic activities.
  2. the nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features.
  3. a geographical area; a region, space, place.
  4. the people. the cultures.

What it means to be an enchanted geographer (see Tara Woodyer and Hilary Geoghegan 2014)

Enchantment in geography is championed by Dr Tara Woodyer at the University of Portsmouth in England.

Enchantment as object of study enables geographers to develop new ways that allow for experimentation with, and reporting on, alternate worlds and possibilities. (see Geoghegan Hilary and Tara Woodyer 2013)

The box office fallacy: Why Enchantment?

The rate of scientific and technological innovations and achievements has transformed the way we do virtually everything.

Due to the connectivity and phase of innovation and change, it’s impractical to track proceedings from a box office.

Lets face it, the box office behind the walls of a higher education will not suffice for the connectivity and needs of community engagement and education in the near future.

Current state of academic research and reporting (see Linda Kaye 2019)

According to Dr Kaye, here, not all academic research fulfils its potential in reaching relevant stakeholders, user-groups or beneficiaries.

For example, President Trump talks about climate change and academic community starts running around as if the world is about to come to an end.

According to Dr Kaye, the main barrier for this is that academics do not always have the time or in some cases, the inclination or skills to find ways of communicating their research in accessible ways to non-academic audiences. This is a missed opportunity, particularly when considering that the primary purpose of academic research is often to inform and support areas of society which are largely outside the academic sphere.

Being enchanted is about opening up and not closing down geographical endeavour. It involves a positive energy and an attention to the exploration of alternate worlds and possibilities for academic research and reporting.

An enchanted cultural geographer:

1. appreciates the small and seemingly irrelevant;

2. continually redefines what is considered to be serious;

3. will use the seemingly trivial to track larger issues;

4. retain a curiosity and inquisitiveness for the world;

5. brings enchantment to all engagement across the life-course;

6. continually seek creative ways of reporting and community engagement.

Geography is about learning how to understand the links between disciplines, and using those links to develop new, world-changing innovations.

It is the study of the Earth’s people, environments, and landscapes and unique in that it bridges the social sciences and natural sciences. The driving theme for geographical research and reporting is one of space and place and people. This make geographers interdisciplinary innovators with an important role in addressing major challenges facing academia and our world.

Tips and advice for Portsmouth students

Portsmouth is a port city and naval base on England’s south coast and home of a gold-rated University.

I enjoyed a distinct learning and cultural experience while I was at the University of Portsmouth… years after graduation, I still rely on the teaching and advisory excellence of the educators to troubleshoot social and cultural challenges in the real world. For example;  During my advocacy for better learning services at Brandon library, I spoke to the IT manager (Watkins), he happened to be a graduate of Portsmouth Polytechnic.

Coming from the same institution, and bestowed with sustainability-driven social and cultural values, we clicked in an instant. We discussed the local library, and our experiences with the University of Portsmouth library as if we had been friends for a long time. Mr Watkins took up the matter for me, and he was inspirational and supportive in making the case for and recruiting a part-time Learn My Way staff for the library. For this reason, I want to share my experiences, and some tips and advice, for prospective and continuing students.

MSc Project Management 2015 Class (Pic – Nonso Nwune)

Sea City: Portsmouth


Portsmouth is a port city on England’s south coast, It’s known for its maritime heritage and naval ties, the Historic Dockyard and Portsmouth houses a gold rated University (formerly Portsmouth Polytechnic).

I became aware of Portsmouth distinctive learning spaces and style while I was studying for a degree in London. At the time, my girlfriend attended the University while I was conducting a video games (war games) research at South Bank University… I used to visit her often.

For me, Portsmouth is culturally diverse in every way, it is the complete package. Furthermore, keeping my participants engaged over the period of my longitudinal research was important to me and the city offered many potentials. The city was particularly compatible and useful for my study because I could use photographs in fluid and ludic geographies to engage the participants (particularly the veterans).

Sea City Institution: University of Portsmouth

I was aware of the University’s distinctive learning style before I applied and I was determined to experience it in first-person.  From the moment I joined the University in September 2010, all I received was responsive support with timely and reinforcing feedbacks. Many of the educators are approachable, open, transparent and as a whole, always interested in lifelong learning innovations and new ideas.

University Of Portsmouth: Play, Games and Game Study

Personally, I’m convinced that the future society is going to resemble gaming paradigm. It’s basically going to resemble a broth and it’s going to increasingly get difficult to separate the different components and elements that make up the social-technology mix. I’m certain that there is more to learn and adapt from video games and the University of Portsmouth gave me the confidence, space, opportunity and guidance to explore my idea. I mean …

Mrs Karen Knibbs used Second Life to teach her marketing seminar, Mr Chris Milner set-up some of the early Call of Duty competitions … And, Rich Broakes won’t stop reminding you why quizzes are important. The University is also home to Galaxy Zoo, a citizen science projects that employ game-psychology to troubleshoot cosmic challenges. Dr Joe Cox conducted longitudinal investigations in gaming realms. My supervisor, Dr Tara Woodyer, explores the role of play across the life course. Her work shed light on our common understanding of play and creatively brings the discussion into the current era. Finally, Karen Knibbs, Judith Fletcher-Brown and Karen Middleton explore an Agile 3E’s case for lifelong learning

By the end of the second week, it was clear that I was in the right universe. I was in the right place to develop as an individual and in a great geography to develop my research interests.

Advice For Prospective Undergraduates

  1. Accommodation: It’s of paramount importance to ensure that your space of rest and peace is conducive for the duration of your stay. You don’t want to live in a house where you can’t study, rest or plan. Domestic problems, for instance, feuds with a flat-mate can have profound negative effects on your ability to rest and attend your lectures. It’s always good advice to ensure that you have sorted out your accommodation before registration.
  2. Finance: If you know that you are going to have financial issues, ask for help immediately. For example, If you know that your loan is going to be late, perhaps your budget doesn’t add up, head to Student finance and ask for support.
  3. Time and financial planning: There is a myth that there’s not enough time at University … I disagree, there is always enough time and time is not just a uni thing and it certainly won’t stop after uni. The key to time is how you manage your time. Independence and having fun is a major part of university life, but remember that it’s important to eat regularly and to get enough sleep, and maintain a set of rules to live by.
  4. Talk to your educators: The relationships formed with your teachers will remain well beyond your graduate career. For instance, Dr Welch was my Knowledge Management tutor at Portsmouth, now at Sheffield, I still contact her and rely on her teaching excellence perspective to tackle certain situations in the real world.
  5. Get a part-time job. Volunteer at your faculty. Visit the Nest: Nest is your own university social enterprise and it will help you transform your art and passion before you leave University. Take advantage of the employability opportunities available to you and support with activities within you faculty when you can. For example; I used to volunteer for open days where I share my project management experiences with business owners and prospective students. Do not wait until the end of your degree before you start thinking about employment.
  6. Have fun. Be social. Explore: The University students blog has plenty information about what you can do around the city. For example, 11 things to do in Portsmouth when you are bored. The  Student Union and University library are also great spaces for fun times and other social interactions.

Enjoy yourself! Stay safe at all times, and if you have any doubts or concerns, ask for help immediately.