Geography professor retires from Lancaster Environment Centre

Professor Gordon Walker

Geography professor Gordon Walker – who has worked at Lancaster University for almost 20 years – has taken retirement and shifted to emeritus professor status.

Gordon joined the University in 2005 as a professor in the Department of Geography, which was at the time hidden away at the back of the physics building.

Geography then merged into the formation of Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) as a much weightier multidisciplinary department.

Initially within LEC Gordon was teaching on the geography programmes and running EU, research council and charity funded research projects.

He also led the human geography research group and was on the LEC management team.

He said: “It was a complicated period as the merging of departmental and disciplinary cultures was always going to be a difficult process and there was a lot of staff churn particularly amongst the human geographers.

“I had a partial break from LEC responsibilities when from 2012 to 2017 I Co-Directed the UKRI funded DEMAND Centre based in FASS.

“When I returned LEC had become a more settled and understanding place.”

More recently Gordon has been doing mentoring and support for earlier career colleagues and getting involved with research connected to decolonisation initiatives.

He has been a member of UCU and supported industrial action to protect pay and pensions and “resist rampant neo-liberalisation”.

“Cold picket lines will always figure in my career memories,” he said.

Gordon’s research has been concerned with all sorts of relationships between society and the environments we live with and depend on.

This has involved revealing patterns of environmental inequality and injustice, critiquing various policy initiatives, and proposed technological solutions and arguing for particular ways of looking at the world and phenomenon within it.

He said he was most proud of two books.

“Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics (2012) took a lot of work to pull together across a rapidly developing field and received nice feedback from those using it in teaching,” he said.

“Energy and Rhythm: Rhythmanalysis for a Low Carbon Future (2021) was my most ambitious publication, including some different styles of writing and making substantial conceptual claims.

“Finishing it during the COVID-19 lockdown felt like a big achievement, but also insignificant in the face of what else was going on.”

He said that during his time at LEC he has always enjoyed meeting each new year of students, trying to keep track of their shifting expectations, achievements, and anxieties.

“Field courses are a distinctive part of what we do in LEC, and there have been some real highlights for me over the years in delivering teaching through connecting into real places and real lives,” he said.

“Chatting to colleagues over a coffee or beer and trying to make sense of the demands and weirdness of doing an academic job has always been enjoyable; as has being able to work with some fantastic people amongst the academic and professional services staff.”

Gordon said that he now planned to do lots of playing, writing and producing music as part of several bands he is a member of.

He said he was also making more time for family, the outdoors and whatever else comes along that looks fun and interesting.

He added: “I’m involved in two continuing research projects and won’t entirely stop academic work, but it is now definitely time to make space for other things.”

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