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SENSE at the Conference of Irish Geographers 2023


In May, Sasha Brown presented early progress on the SENSE. project at the 2023 Conference of Irish Geographers, held in Wexford, Ireland. This year, the conference had the theme of “Resilience” and Sasha presented the paper “Speaking the letters of STEAM and geographies’ transdisciplinarity potentials in education”.

This paper explored Timothy Ingold’s concern regarding STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) initiatives in education – that using these acronyms “enable us to speak of things, or of persons, without naming them” (Ingold 2020). The acronym ‘STEAM’ has the possibility to even reinforce the boundaries between disciplines and subjects by defining each subject as using certain skills and knowledge. In practice, ‘being an innovative scientist’ and ‘being an innovative artist’ actually often require similar attitudes and skills. These skills include curiosity in the world around us, developing expertise in our own senses, and observing our own being in the world with others, including in our communities and in our natural world. These values and skills are the foundation of the SENSE. project.

These explorations fit well in a geography conferences, especially in one with a focus on resilience and “highlighting the central role that Geography can play in addressing key global challenges” (CIG 2023). Geography as a discipline has a rich history of interdisciplinary collaboration, and geographers often work at the intersection of physical sciences, social sciences and the humanities while exploring issues of place, space, environment, and scale, some of the core concepts in the discipline.

Sasha presented his paper in a session on “Geography and Education for a Resilient Future” and highlighted how geographical scholarship could provide an important contribution to efforts to integrate sensory learning and the SENSE. project in education. For example, Walter Mignolo’s work highlights how knowledge is always created ‘in a place’, and always has a connection to that place (2000). Mapping is another core part of geography, and different forms of mapping, including participatory and community mapping, abstract mapping, digital, qualitative, and quantitative mapping methods, all highlight the importance of place and space in our stories that we use to learn about the world.

Other papers in the session and conference included explorations of a wide range of related and relevant issues: 

1. on how mapping in schools can empower students to learn and be involved in their communities and environment (Wilson 2023);

2. on a community that used digital maps to learn about a pipeline through their town (First-Arai 2023);

3. on the role of geography curriculum in encouraging curiosity and agency in the world (Pike 2023);

4. and on the importance of emotions in space and time to understand and learn from young people and educators involved in climate change education (Fahy and Reilly 2023), to name just a few.

Presentations at conferences such as this provide unique opportunities to share our project with experienced scholars, to hear valuable feedback on our ideas and efforts so far, and to learn and connect with many people aligned to face our global challenges today. We look forward to share the SENSE. project at future conferences and other events in the future.

Sasha Brown is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Western Norway and based in Bergen, Norway.


Mignolo, W. (2012). Local histories/global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ.

Ingold, T. (2019). What Knowledge Do We Need for Future-Making Education? In Why Science and Art Creativities Matter (pp. 432–439). Brill. Leiden, Netherlands.

CIG 2023 UCD. (2023). CIG. Retrieved 27 June 2023, from

Wilson, S. (2023). Gi-Pedagogy: an innovative model for integrating GIS for a ‘Resilitent CURRICULUM, Conference of Irish Geographers. Wexford, Ireland.

First-Arai, L. (2023). Streetless maps and data gaps: leveraging digital maps to resist racist zoning and development in Memphis, Tennessee, Conference of Irish Geographers. Wexford, Ireland.

Pike, S. (2023). Geography in Primary Schools: Curriculum Change for a Resilient Future?, Conference of Irish Geographers. Wexford, Ireland.

Phelan, D., Fahy, F., Reilly, K. (2023). “You’ve got to change the entire education system”: Climate Change education and young people’s emotional geographies of hope and burden in four European cities, Conference of Irish Geographers. Wexford, Ireland.