15 September 2018

Department welcomes back student 50 years on

The Department of Geography was delighted to be able to welcome back Helen Towns (née Thorpe) to the department 50 years after she started her Geography degree at Sheffield University.

Helen Towns returns to Geography department after 50 years
Helen Towns returns to Geography department after 50 years

The Department of Geography was delighted to be able to welcome back Helen Towns (née Thorpe) to the department 50 years after she started her Geography degree at Sheffield University.

When she started, the geography department was based on floor 13 of the Arts Tower. In 1971, when Helen was in her final year, the new Geography building on Winter Street was completed and she was one of the first occupants - at that time, there was sufficient space and small enough class sizes that final year students had their own study room within the building.

Helen remembers being taught by Prof Ron Walters (Head of Department in 1970), the newly appointed Stan Gregory, as well as Doug Watts and David Grigg.

Helen has kindly loaned the department her first-year workbooks which give a fascinating insight into the geography degree content at that time. Her work includes aerial photography analysis, map interpretation, studies on landslides, geomorphology, population studies as well as statistical analysis. Many of the exercises are accompanied with beautifully traced or drawn illustrations and maps. Compared to the extensive marking feedback that students now get, comments on her work are brief and pithy.

During her visit, Helen was able to see how the geography building has been modernised and get a sense of how the department has changed and extended over the last fifty years.

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