School of GeoSciences

The Wreford Watson Lecture Series

The Wreford Watson Lecture Series commemorates the life and work of James Wreford Watson (1915-1990) a geographer and poet who formerly held the chair in the Geography Department at Edinburgh.

The Lecture is given each year by a prominent intellectual from outwith or inside the academic discipline of Geography. The purpose of the lecture is to set geographical ideas within a wider culture of public intellectualism.

2018 lecture:

By Felicity Callard, Professor of Social Research and Director of Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, "2018: The Year that shook Universities"

Wreford Watson Lecturers in recent years have been:

  • 2016 - Dr. Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News, “World without borders: how warfare and whatsapp are changing reporting”
  • 2014 - Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford, "Inequality and the 1%:What Scotland might not miss about England"
  • 2012 - Will Self, Professor of Contemporary Thought, Brunel University, "Decontaminating the Union: Post-Industrial Landscapes and the British Psyche"Published in Scottish Geographical Journal 129(2013), 59-66:

Read a transcript of the lecture

  • 2011 - Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. ‘Is Urban Sustainability Possible in the Age of Climate Justice?’
  • Before 2011, speaker have included Doreen Massey, Nigel Thrift, Ceri Peach and David Livingstone.

About our sponsors

The Wreford Watson Lecture has had a distinguished (but intermittent) presence in the life of Geography at the University. From 2011-2012, funding for the Lecture series has become sustainable thanks to the generous support of the Edinburgh University Club of Toronto (EDUCT). On the initiative of Simon Miles, a Geography graduate and former President of EDUCT, the club established the EDUCT Geography Centenary Fund with the support of many members and friends of EDUCT. Today, the endowed Fund, which remains open, contributes to the support of both the Wreford Watson Lecture and provides financial assistance towards an annual scholarship for post-graduate geographical research.

In 2012-2013, EDUCT funds were used to support the work of Tom Cowton (working on Greenland glaciers), Brett Matulis (on conservation and environmental discourses in Costa Rica), and Edwin Baynes (on long-term landscape change in Iceland). Geography staff and students acknowledge with grateful thanks the generous support of EDUCT in furthering geographical research through the Wreford Watson Lecture and postgraduate research. In 2013-2014, funds have been used to support Andrew Tedstone (working on Greenland icesheets), Dimitrios Michelakis (on satellite and remote sensing of forest cover) and George Jaramillo (on cultural landscapes and lived experience in the Peak District).

For information on students supported by the Edinburgh University Club of Toronto and details on how to apply for support.

EDUCT Student Support