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News article

Student initiative nominated for prestigious National Diversity Award

Published: 26 May 2023

  •   Featured
  •   Awards
  •    Students
Black Geographers

Founded by York St John University student Francisca Rockey, Black Geographers CIC has been nominated for the Community Organisation Award in the category of Race, Religion and Faith at the prestigious National Diversity Awards 2023.  

The nomination follows the collective’s work towards tackling systemic racism and barriers in the field of Geography and environment sector.  

In 2020,  Francisca Rockey formed a collective with Black geography students and graduates to address the lack of diversity which she noticed around her within the field of geography.  

The collective came together with first-hand experience of the many barriers which prevent Black students from studying geography, and how isolating the field can be even after navigating these barriers. 

In 2018, only 12% of undergraduate geographers were from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background (Royal Geographic Society, 2021, PDF, 645 kB). 

This year, York St John University collaborated with Black Geographers to launch Encompass, a brand-new initiative for current year 12 students who are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background. Aimed at empowering a more diverse representation of people and places within geography, Encompass provides students with access to a field trip, summer school and UCAS application support.  

Through their collaborative work, Black Geographers aims to not only encourage more Black students to study geography at university, but to also begin transforming Geography as a discipline, to make it more engaging and inclusive at every level of education. 

Reflecting on the award nomination announcement, Francisca Rockey said: 

“I am delighted that Black Geographers has been nominated for a National Diversity Award. The recognition and boost in profile from this will help us to go on to achieve even more.” 

The concept of the National Diversity Awards arose in 2012 when Founder, Paul Sesay and his team identified an urgent need for more positive role models to be actively promoted, with the aim to empower and inspire others. 

Francisca added:  

“For 3 years, we have been leading the way in improving diversity within the discipline of geography and the environment sector.” 

“Your vote for Black Geographers supports our vision of supporting geographers affected by systemic racism and barriers preventing career progression. It highlights the factors contributing to the lack of diversity in the environment sector - acting as a source of inspiration for new generations of geographers and geoscientists.” 

Following a shortlist announcement on 7 July, winners of the National Diversity Awards 2023 will be announced on 15 September at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.  

Find out more about the work of Black Geographers on their website.  

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