Young People’s Geographies (YPG)
Young People’s Geographies is an ever-expanding field of research in academic geography and in geography education (for a good overview of the field see ‘Childhood Studies-Authoritative Research Guide – Oxford Bibliographies’).
Terminology describing this subfield of geography varies between Children’s Geographies, Young People’s Geographies and Youth Geographies, but for the purpose of this website we will use the term ‘Young People’s Geographies’ (YPG) to refer to research about the lived experience of children and young people in the 3-25 age group.
It can be a taken for granted truism that children and young people lead diverse lives and have their own distinct geographical lives – distinct from each other, and distinct from adults. In the light of this, YPG is not one distinct field of research.
Increasingly research into YPG is distributed across different aspects of geography research including cultural geography, social geography and economic geography, as well as geography education, and research on YPG can also be found in other related fields such as citizenship, politics, anthropology, sociology, economics and others.
YPG research also takes place at a range of scales from the micro scale (e.g. young people’s identity or their personal spaces such as their bedrooms) through to the local or community scale, the regional scale, and national and global scales.
Increasingly research in YPG is seeking to shift the research agenda away from ‘researching about’ children and young people’, and to better ensure young people are an integrated part of research processes – research ‘with’ children and young people is an increasing element in YPG research. In the light of this there is growing consideration of the ethical implications of engaging young people in research agendas and processes.
Gaps in YPG research
Currently under-represented field of research includes ‘youth geographies’ and in particular:
- the complexities of youth culture,
- the nature of international student migration and globalisation,
- the role and experience of young people as stakeholders (for example in school)
- children and youth as political actors, in particular young people’s environmental/climate activism.
(Smith & Mills, 2018)
In 2011 Catling identified the following gaps in children’s geographies research for primary aged children:
- Whether and what children think about studying geography.
- The nature and variety of children’s environmental and spatial thinking and understanding which they bring into primary school contexts.
- Children’s experiences of place in the primary school environment.
- What children see as the relationship between their personal geographies and their informal and formal learning of geography.
- The sense of geography children take from their primary school experiences.
- The relevance of children’s geographies to their school learning of geography.
There seems to be limited published research on young people and life in the global south in comparison to work published based on research in the global north.
In the light of the pandemic, we might start to see research that starts to unravel:
- the spatial experiences of young people during the pandemic (for more see: a report by Natural England: ‘The People and Nature Survey for England: Children’s Survey)
- children and young people’s experiences of schooling/education,
- impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and access to support services),
- the impact of any post-pandemic recovery.
In relation to education, Hammond (2020) suggests specific fields of potential research as being the application of theory from children’s geographies in educational settings, and the how children’s geographies has been conceptualised by stakeholders such as teachers, policy makers and organisations such as Ofsted.
Catling, S. (2013) The need to develop research into primary children’s and schools’ geography, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 22(3), pp.177-182
Hammond, L. E. (2020) An investigation into children’s geographies and their value to geography education in schools. Thesis (PhD), University College London.
Smith, Daren. P. and Mills, Sarah (2018) The ‘youth-fullness’ of youth geographies: ‘coming of age’?, in Children’s Geographies, 17(1) pp. 1-8.
Key sources of Geographical Education Research for YPG
Key research articles
- Hammond, L. E. (2020) An investigation into children’s geographies and their value to geography education in schools. Thesis (PhD), University College London.
- Usher, J. & Dolan, A. (2021). Covid-19: teaching primary geography in an authentic context related to the lived experiences of learners. Irish Educational Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03323315.2021.1916555
- Young Geographers Project
- Young Lives for a sustainable Earth – a collection of articles
- Alderson, P. (2012). ‘Rights-Respecting Research: A Commentary on ‘the Right to be Properly Researched: Research with Children in a Messy, Real World’ in Children’s Geographies 10(2) pp 233-239.
- Biddulph, M. (2010). ‘Editorial: Valuing Young People’s Geographies’ in Teaching Geography 35(2) pp 45
- Biddulph, M. (2012). ‘Spotlight On: Young People’s Geographies and the School Curriculum’in Geography 97(3) pp 155-162
- Boden, L. (2020). On, to, with, for, by: ethics and children in research, Children’s Geographies, doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2021.1891405
- Bourke, J. (2017). Children’s experiences of their everyday walks through a complex urban landscape of belonging, Children’s Geographies 15(1) pp 93-106
- Catling, S. (2006). ‘What do Five-year-olds Know of the World? Geographical Understanding and Play in Young Children’s Early Learning’, Geography 91(1) pp 55-74
- Catling, S. (2014). ‘Giving Younger Children Voice in Primary Geography: Empowering Pedagogy: A Personal Perspective’ in International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education 23(4) pp 350-372
- Firth, R. Biddulph, M. (2009) ‘Young People’s Geographies’ in Teaching Geography 34(1) pp 32-34
- Firth, R., Biddulph, M., Riley, H., Gaunt, I. and Buxton, C. (2010) How can young people take an active role in the geography curriculum, in Teaching Geography 35(2) pp
- Hammond, L. (2019) ‘Much More Than Just an Empty Void: Utilising the ‘Production of Space’ to Enhance Young People’s Understanding of the Concept of Space’ in Geography 104(1) pp28-38
- Hammond, L. (2021) Recognising and exploring children’s geographies in school geography, Children’s Geographies, DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2021.1913482
- Hammond, L. and McKendrick, J.H. (2020) Geography teacher educators’ perspectives on the place of children’s geographies in the classroom, Geography 105(2) pp 86-93
- Holloway, S. L. (2014) ‘Changing Children’s Geographies’ in Children’s Geographies 12(4) pp 377-392
- Hopkins, P., Botterill, K. and Sanghera, G. (2019) Towards inclusive geographies? Young People, religion, race and migration, Geography 103(2) pp
- Jones, O. (2012) Black rain and fireflies: the otherness of childhood as a non-colonising adult ideology, Geography, 97(3), 141-146
- Kelly, A (2005) Children’s geographies at key stage 2, International Journal of Geographical and Environmental Research, 14 (4) 342-347
- Kesby, M. 2007. Editorial: Methodological insights on and from children’s geographies, Children’s Geographies 5(3) pp 193–205
- Loaire, C. N., White, A., Tyrrel, N. and Carpena-Mendez, F. (2012) Children and young people in the move: geographies of child and youth migration, Geography 97 (3) pp 129-134
- Martin, F (2008) ‘Ethnogeography: towards liberatory geography education’ Children’s Geographies 6(4), 437-450
- Matthews, H. (2003) ‘Inaugural Editorial: Coming of Age for Children’s Geographies’ in Children’s Geographies 1(1) pp 3-5
- McKendrick, J.H. and Hammond, L. (2020) Connecting with children’s geographies in education, Teaching Geography 45(3) pp 118-121
- Morris, J. (2010) Castle: Youth culture in Swansea, in Teaching Geography 35(2) pp 52-54
- Navne , D.E. and Skovdal, M. (2021). ‘Small steps and small wins’ in young people’s everyday climate crisis activism, Children’s Geographies, DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2021.1887817
- Pike, S (2011) “If you went out it would stick “Irish children’s learning in their local environments. International Journal of Geographical and Environmental Research, 20 (2), 139-159
- Porter, G. Townsend, J. Hampshire, K. (2012) ‘Children and Young People as Producers of Knowledge’ in Children’s Geographies 10(3) pp 131-134
- Robson, E. Horton, J. Kraftl, P. (2013) ‘Children’s Geographies: Reflecting on our First Ten Years’ in Children’s Geographies 11(1) pp 1-6
- Scoffham, S. (2019) The world in their heads: children’s ideas about other nations, peoples and cultures. International Journal of Geographical and Environmental Research,28 (2), 89-102
- Skelton, T. (2008) ‘Research with Children and Young People: Exploring the Tensions between Ethics, Competence and Participation’ in Children’s Geographies 6(1) pp 21- 36
- Trott, Carlie D. (2021) What difference does it make? Exploring the transformative potential of everyday climate crisis activism by children and youth, Children’s Geographies, DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2020.1870663
- Valentine, G. (2003) Boundary Crossings: transitions from childhood to adulthood, Children’s Geographies, 1(1) pp 37-52
- Yarwood, R. Tyrrell, N. (2012) ‘Why Children’s Geographies?’ in Geography 97(3) pp123-128
- Aitken, S. (2001) Geographies of Young People: The Morally Contested Spaces of Identity Routledge: London
- Biddulph, M. (2011) ‘Young People’s Geographies: Implications for Secondary Schools’ in Butt, G. (eds.) Geography, Education and Future Bloomsbury: London
- Catling, S. (2011) ‘Children’s Geographies in the Primary School’ in Butt, G. (eds.) Geography, Education and Future’ Bloomsbury: London
- Catling, S.J. and Martin, F. E. (2011) ‘Contesting powerful knowledge: The primary geography curriculum as an articulation between academic and children’s (ethno-) geographies’. Curriculum Journal 22(3), 317-335
- Evans, B. (2008) Geographies of Youth/Young People, Geography Compass pp 1659-1680
- Evans, R. & Holt, L. (2014) ‘Introduction: Diverse Spaces of Childhood and Youth: Gender and Other Socio-Cultural Differences’ in Evans, R. Holt, L. (eds.) Diverse Spaces of Childhood and Youth: Gender and Other Socio-Cultural Difference Routledge: London
- Harcourt, D. Perry, B. & Waller, T. (2011) Researching Young Children’s Perspectives: Debating the Ethics and Dilemmas of Educational Research with Children Routledge: Abingdon
- Holloway, S. Valentine, G. (2000b) ‘Children’s Geographies and the New Social Studies of Childhood’ in Holloway, S. Valentine, G. (eds.) Children’s Geographies: Living, Playing, Learning Routledge: London
- Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2017) Three playgrounds: researching the multiple eographies of children’s outdoor play. Environment and Planning A : Economy and Space 50(1) pp. 214-235
- Johnson, V. (2017) ‘Moving Beyond Voice in Children and Young People’s Participation’ in Action Research 15(1) pp104-124
- Kraftl, P., Christensen, P., Horton, J. and Hadfiled-Hill, S. (2013) Living on a building site: young people’s experiences of emerging ‘Sustainable Communities’ in England, Geoforum 50 pp 191-199
- McKendrick, J. (2000) ‘The Geography of Children: An Annotated Bibliography’ in Childhood 7(3) pp359-387
- McKendrick, J. Bradford, M. Fielder, A. (2000) ‘Kid Customer?: Commercialization of Playspace and the Commodification of Childhood’ Childhood 7(3) pp295–314
- Skelton, T. & Valentine, G. (1998) (eds.) Cool Spaces: Geographies of Youth Cultures Routledge: London
- Tani, S. (2011) ‘Is There a Place for Young People in the Geography Curriculum? Analysis of the Aims and Contents of the Finnish Comprehensive School Curriculum’ in Nordidactica – Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education 1(1) pp 26-39
- Valentine, G. (1996) ‘Angels and Devils: Moral Landscapes of Childhood’ in Environment and Planning: Society and Space 14(5) pp 581-599
- Meaningful Maps – a social portrait through the eyes of young people
- Register of Research in Primary Geography – Geographical Association
- University of Birmingham: Research Group: Geographies of Children, Young People and Education
- University of Newcastle: Youth Research Group
- University of Central Lancashire Centre for Children and Youth Participation (has a board of youth researchers)
- University of Sussex Centre for Innovation in Research in Childhood and Youth
- Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): GCYFRG: Geographies of Children, Youth and Families research Group
- Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): Geography and Education Research Group
- British Sociological Association Youth Studies Network
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