Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New book brings together papers by founding figure in NZ geography

A collection of papers written by New Zealand’s first university lecturer in geography has been gathered together in a new book published by Canterbury University Press.

A Geographer by Declaration has been put together by Massey University Professor of Geography Michael Roche and features selected published and unpublished writings of George Jobberns (1895-1974), a founding figure in university geography in New Zealand.

Professor Roche said the history of university geography in this country had received limited study and “although some important episodes are well understood, there are many areas that have escaped attention”.

“The realisation that there was a considerable quantity of unpublished writing by pioneer New Zealand geographer George Jobberns that provides a window into disciplinary concerns in the 1940s and 1950s provided the motivation for this collection,” he said.

Born in South Canterbury, Jobberns was a graduate of Christchurch Teachers’ College and, after a period as a secondary school teacher, completed an MA in geology at what is now the University of Canterbury. In 1922 he took up a position as a lecturer in physiography at Christchurch Teacher’s College and managed to also complete a BSc and Dip Ed at the same time. He was assistant lecturer in the geology department at Canterbury from 1934 and, in 1937, Jobberns was appointed lecturer-in-charge of an independent geography department at his alma mater. The department was the first of its kind in the New Zealand university system. Five years later Jobberns was the country’s first Professor of Geography. He retired in 1960 and was awarded a CBE in 1963.

About the Editor:
Professor Roche is based in the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University. He completed a PhD in historical geography in 1983 at the University of Canterbury and has a long-standing interest in the development of university geography in New Zealand, particularly in the movement of people and ideas between North America and New Zealand.

He has published on various aspects of the interrelations of society, economy and environment in 19th and 20th century New Zealand, including contributions to the New Zealand Historical Atlas, the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and Te Ara: The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

A Geographer by Declaration will be launched during the New Zealand Geographical Society Conference at Rydges Hotel in Christchurch, 5-8 July.

A Geographer by Declaration: Selected writings by George Jobberns, edited by Michael Roche, published by Canterbury University Press, June 2010, RRP$30, paperback, 136pp + 8pp b/w photos, ISBN 978-1-877257-90-2.

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