The GeoCapabilities Partners and many Associate Partners have undertaken many dissemination events in several European nations, the USA and Far East. These have aimed to:

1.  Explain the underpinning ideas (click on the highlights to hear project partners talk about the main ideas of the project): the capabilities approachpowerful disciplinary knowledge; and the idea of a Future 3 curriculum and curriculum making.

 2. Use the tools designed to help to help teachers develop the GeoCapabilities approach to ‘curriculum leadership‘.

An inventory of dissemination events during the life of the project (2014-2017)


The Project Team, 2014

The key participants of dissemination events have been teacher educators. Also, all teachers with responsibility for professional development.

Working with practitioners in various parts of the world has been a vital part of developing GeoCapabilities. Reading from the bottom of the page provides a dynamic history of the project and how it has developed.

Special Invitation Seminar, Amsterdam, Netherlands (February 2017)
This meeting was designed to reach teacher educators in European nations not yet involved in GeoCapabilities. The day-long seminar attracted 12 participants from 10 different countries. The programme is provided below. This can be adapted locally by anyone wanting to introduce GeoCapabilities to groups of teachers or teacher educators.

Special workshop for Finnish geography educators, University of Helsinki (February 2017) 

Geography teacher educators from the universities of Oulu, Turku, Eastern Finland and Helsinki, as well as the presentative of the Finnish National Board of Education, attended a special workshop on GeoCapabilities on the 8th of February 2017. Riikka Oittinen and Sirpa Tani presented the project and its major findings and Elina Särkelä told about her experiences as a teacher who has applied the approach in her work.

Geography Teacher Educators Conference, Plymouth, UK (January 2017)
C3QVsU9WQAEXoHi Duncan Hawley, Plymouth, 2017
Four project partners (Kelly Butler, Richard Bustin, Duncan Hawley and David Lambert) led a GeoCapabilities symposium for 45 teacher educators focussed on powerful disciplinary knowledge, Future 3 curriculum making and how the capabilities approach can enhance teacher education and development.

Association of Geography Teachers of Australia (AGTA), Melbourne, Australia (January 2017)
AGTA 2017 conference brochure_banner head 500
Michael Solem and David Lambert were invited to provide a Keynote address for the conference to over 200 teachers. The theme was: “Who is thinking what in geography classrooms”? and this was examined using the GeoCapabilities approach. They also jointly ran a workshop for 30 participants on the nature powerful disciplinary knowledge.

Two workshops for geography student teachers, Viikki Teacher Training School and Helsinki Normaalilyseo. (December 2016) 

Elina Särkelä, Riikka Oittinen and Sirpa Tani organised two workshops for student teachers in the teacher training schools of the University of Helsinki. The participants learned about the main viewpoints of the GeoCapabilities approach and in group discussions they explored some of the vignettes published at the project website.

Journal of Geography in Higher Education (JGHE) conference, London UK (December 2016)
This meeting was called to celebrate JGHE’s 40th year of publication. GeoCapabilities partners provided a paper to introduce the approach specifically to an audience of academics and teachers in Higher Education. There was considerable interest expressed in how the capabilities approach has been adopted and adapted in GeoCapabilities; and discussion over the merits and the challenges of ‘powerful disciplinary knowledge’.

Seminar, Institutionen for Pedagogiska Studier, University of Karlstad, Sweden (November 2016)
David Lambert was invited by associate partner Gabriel Bladh, to address members (about 15) of the faculty about the project and especially the role of ‘powerful knowledge’. The context was the establishment of ROSE.

Finnish Geography Days 2016: Extreme Geographies, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu.  (October 2016)

Sirpa Tani was invited to provide a Keynote address for the conference. In her lecture “Power of Geography and the Spirit of the Times: Opportunities and Challenges for Geography Education” she applied the GeoCapabilities approach and the ideas of powerful disciplinary knowledge in the context of contemporary issues of Finnish geography education. In the paper sessions of the conference, Riikka Oittinen presented the GeoCapabilities project and its website to geography educators coming from different universities. These presentations received a positive feedback and requests for further knowledge of the project (provided later in a special workshop organised in Helsinki: see above)

Geography Teacher Educators in Japan (October 2016)
Prof Shimura and Michael Solem 2016 Prof Shimura and Michael Solem, Joetsu University
 Michael Solem led a teacher educators’ workshop on the GeoCapabilities approach and focussed on PDK vignettes. Some of these may be uploaded to Story Map in 2017. The materials with Japanese translations are provided below. See also here.

Eurogeo conference, Malaga, Spain (September 2016)
storytelling-300x200  Xin Miao, Malaga, 2016
Four paper sessions (from David Lambert, Richard Bustin, Kelly Butler and Xin Miao) and workshop (from Duncan Hawley) expose GeoCapabilities principles to over 50 teachers and teacher educators from across Europe.

City of London Freemen’s School, UK (September 2016)

Led by Richard Bustin and David Lambert, this was a three hour lecture and workshop for the whole staff (120 teachers). One of the outcomes was an overview of how teachers across the school interpret ‘powerful knowledge’ in their subjects. A video summary is here and the outcomes are summarised in the following document:

pdf graphicGeoCapabilities teacher workshop

International Geographical Union Commission on Geography Education (IGU-CGE), Singapore, plus Beijing, China (August 2016)

Pre-service teachers  workshop, Beijing Pre-service teacher workshop, Beijing, 2016

A ninety-minute workshop, convened by the South East Asian Geographical Association, was led by Michael Solem entitled GeoCapabilities: developing teachers as curriculum leaders. This was part of the  33rd International Geographical Congress, held in Beijing. The GeoCapabilities work has been taken up by several Chinese educationists, as demonstrated by this article prepared by Miao Xin

Doukas School, Athens, Greece (June 2016)

A three hour workshop was conducted by Michael Solem and Karl Donert to 25 teachers from different curriculum specialisms. There were no specialist geography teachers at the workshop. This was the first time the project communicated the capabilities approach (with its key ideas of powerful disciplinary knowledge, Future 3 and curriculum making) to teachers from a wide variety of specialisms.

It was highly successful as the video case studies demonstrate:

7871357-box-with-golden-lightbeams 7871357-box-with-golden-lightbeams

The first session introduced the conceptual basis of the ‘capabilities approach‘.The second session focussed on the idea of teachers as curriculum leaders.

Geographical Association Conference, Manchester, UK (April 2016)

Richard Bustin presented a research paper: How useful is the concept of GeoCapability for geography teachers? It focussed on what students are able to ‘do’ and to ‘think’ and ‘to be’ as a result of their geography education. Drawing from his doctoral research Richard argued that ta capabilities approach can aid teachers in their curriculum making.

Geographical Association Conference, Manchester, UK (April 2016)

GeoCapabilities: active curriculum interpretation. This workshop presented by Duncan Hawley and Kelly Butler showcased the four online modules designed to help teachers evaluate the role of geographical knowledge and the significance of their actions in the process of ‘curriculum making’

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA (April 2016)

Three consecutive panel sessions were organised under the heading: Appreciating Geography as Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge in Schools.
In all, twelve papers were accepted from nine different countries – from full project partners (eg Finland, UK, USA) and from associate partners (such as Germany, Netherlands and Sweden as well as China, Japan and New Zealand).  David Lambert acted as ‘discussant’ for all the papers. Approximately 35 people attended some or all of these papers.

  • Tine Béneker: The development of powerful disciplinary knowledge in Dutch geography education
  • Péter Bagoly-Simó: What geography is made of: an international comparison of subject-specific knowledge in geography curricula
  • Naoyuki Ito: Powerful disciplinary knowledge in the Japanese social studies lessons
  • Gabriel Bladh: Powerful geographical knowledge in practice – exemplary cases for developing geographical thinking
  • Anke Uhlenwinkel: The new Berlin-Brandenburg syllabus and its potential in relation to the GeoCapabilities approach
  • Chew-Hung Chang: Teaching climate change in a Future 3 curriculum: a lesson study on using refutation texts
  • David Örbring: Connecting policy and practice: geography education in China and Sweden
  • Sirpa Tani: Powerful disciplinary knowledge in the Finnish geography education
  • Xin Miao: What’s the story? Reflections on school geography in China using cases from Shanghai
  • Jianzhen Zhang: What is powerful knowledge of regional geography?
  • Michael Solem: Geography as powerful disciplinary knowledge in US schools: the vision and the reality
  • Murray Fastier: Powerful knowledge and curriculum reform in New Zealand

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA (April 2016)

A workshop was organised by Karl Donert. This attracted 25 participants and focussed on the development of Module 4 and ‘Curriculum Leadership‘.

Geography Teacher Educators’ Conference, Manchester, UK (January 2016)

How does the GeoCapabilities approach enable a Future 3 (F3) curriculum?GeoCapabilities takes the intrinsic value of geographical knowledge seriously, but also the notion of capabilities as an extrinsic education goal. GeoCapabilities develops children as ‘knowledge workers’  – an aspect of F3 curriculum thinking. This presentation discussed and evaluated:

  • what is involved in a ‘curriculum of engagement’ for students in the 21st century,
  • the challenges of developing F3 curriculum thinking that is part and parcel of teachers’ curriculum making activity.

 Initial Teacher Education workshop, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK (January 2016)
Introducing GeoCapabilities and teachers as curriculum leaders. 

Working with teacher trainees to gain an understanding of capabilities as a productive and practical way to express educational aims. Also to considered the idea of ‘powerful knowledge’ and discussed ways in which powerful knowledge contributes to human capabilities. Finally, explored the idea of ‘curriculum making’ in bringing about a Future 3 curriculum.

Institutionen för utbildningsvetenskap, Lunds Universitet,  Campus Helsingborg, Sweden (December 2015)

GeoCapabilities: curriculum-making and powerful knowledge – an international collaboration

This was an academic seminar. The presentation outlined GeoCapabilities approach as a way of highlighting the importance of geographical knowledge in a wider context and how this raises issues about the subject’s  ‘underdog’ position in the curriculum. The discussion focussed on the following points:

  • A music education specialist referred to the low status of subjects as ‘legitimation sickness’. This raised the question as to whether ‘defence of a subject’ detracts from from a ‘capability approach’  or is it within its purpose?  Geocapabilities would argue that understanding the value of geographical knowledge through powerful disciplinary knowledge should be embedded in the work of a teacher – and thus help to claim the subject’s value in the curriculum.
  • Many participants registered interested in curriculum-making especially in relation to developing projects in schools.
  • A sociologist remarked that Amartha Sen refers to ‘vital knowledge’– which highlights knowledge as vital in relation to education, suggesting that further investigation into the relation between welfare and capabilities would be helpful.
  • The GeoCapability project seems to be focused mainly on teachers and affecting curriculum-making. Some participants wanted to also stress the influence from students in the curriculum-making process.

Workshop at the Viikki Teacher Training School, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, (October 2015)

Workshop: GeoCapabilities project – testing ideas and materials
This workshop introduced the international GeoCapabilities project, the capabilities approach and powerful disciplinary knowledge to teachers and trainee teachers. They were asked to test and evaluate materials (on the website) planned for teacher education. The event included geography and biology student teachers from training schools at the University of Helsinki.

GeoCapabilities Workshop, University of Gdansk, Poland, (October 2015)

Teaching for Human GeoCapabilities

This workshop will introduce participants to the online teacher professional development modules. The main emphasis of the workshop was the value of geographical knowledge for life, work, autonomy, citizenship and environmental responsibility in a highly complex and interdependent world – and the essential role of schools in providing access to that knowledge. It was also stressed that teachers are central in the GeoCapabilities approach, as they can exercise some influence and choice over what is taught and how it is taught. Thus, teachers need to think how specialist knowledge can be reconceptualised in the form of geography as a school subject.

Deutschen Kongress für Geographie ( DKG ), Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, (October, 2015)

A Capabilities Approach to German Geography Education

The workshop explored the potential of a capabilities approach to curriculum making in German geography education. Excellent feedback was received for (mainly) Dutch and German teachers on the curriculum making model and the practice of developing curriculum artefacts.

Conceptualising GeoCapabilities: appreciating the power of thinking geographically

The keynote lecture explored the role geography education plays in preparing the children we teach in this day and age (and their futures). This is one of the key questions that concerns Module 1 of the the GeoCapabilities training materials and the presentation addresses this question at a theoretical level.

GeoCapabilities in the context of curriculum making in Germany (Panel Session)

In this panel session several Partners and Associate Partners discussed the opportunities and challenges of using GeoCapabilities in curriculum making in Germany in comparison to other national contexts.

International Geographical Union (IGU) Regional Conference 2015, Lomonosov Moscow State University (LMSU), Moscow, Russia (August, 2015)

Geographical ‘education for life’.  Geography Teacher Education: the need for a well-prepared professional body of knowledge

This session stressed, mainly, the knowledge led approach of GeoCapabilities. This is different from and yet complementary to ‘competence-based’ curricula. The capabilities approach ensures educational aims are clearly in sight. GeoCapabilities ensures that geographical knowledge underpins curriculum making efforts. In short, the project supports and helps develop progressive knowledge-led curriculum making in geography. This presentation examined the developments taking place in the project, especially the plans to support teachers via the teacher training modules.

EUGEO Congress on the Geography of Europe, Budapest, Hungary, (August 2015)

Teaching for Human GeoCapabilities

This workshop introduced participants to the online teacher professional development course materials being created for the GeoCapabilities project. The goal was articulated as to encourage more effective participation of young people and enable their contribution towards a better world by using a ‘capabilities’ approach to geography education that develops geography subject knowledge, curriculum planning and curriculum making.

NoFa5 Nordisk Fagdidaktisk Konferens (Nordic conference on subject education research), University of Helsinki, Finland (May 2015)

Keynote Lecture

This presentation outlined to over 400 participants the arguments underpinning powerful knowledge and the ‘knowledge led’ curriculum. It made the case for ‘Future 3’ thinking and introduced the concept of curriculum making. It was here that the clear and important similarities between curriculum making and specialist subject didactics was noted.

Geocapabilities Discussion Panel

Panellists, including Partners and some Associate Partners, outlined the challenges and potentials of the theoretical approach adopted for the Geocapabilities project and how it might be applied to their respective curricula in different national contexts.   Some differences and commonalties between countries (England, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the US) were discussed by participants in the session, especially the use of ‘Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge’ to embrace the ‘big values’ demanded by individual national curricula whilst enhancing and deepening knowledge of the subject matters.

Eurogeo Annual Meeting and Conference 2015, Ankara, Turkey,  (May 2015)

GeoCapabilities: leadership in teaching geography 

The presentation outlined the main elements of the project in seeking to examine the role of powerful geographical knowledge and teachers as leaders for curriculum development within schools, gave an overview of the research undertaken and the plans to develop an interactive online training course for teachers and teacher educators.

UCL-IOE and IGU Biennial Conference (The Power of Thinking Geographically), University College London Institute of Education, London, UK (April 2015)

Conceptualising GeoCapabilities: appreciating the power of thinking geographically

  • The presentation asked three key questions:
  • Who are the children we teach?
  • What role does education play in preparing them for this day and age (and their futures)?
  • As geography teachers, how are we able to contribute to their education?

The presentation provided a rationale for adopting a capabilities approach to geography in schools. It outlined the main goals of the GeoCapability project (to create a teacher training on-line platform) which we hope will have international resonance. Finally, the paper critically reprised some of the literature-based and empirical research undertaken by the project partners to underpin the platform design.

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA (April 2015)

Teaching for Human GeoCapabilities

This workshop introduced participants to a prototype online teacher professional development platform. The GeoCapabilities platform is designed to engage teachers in thinking about curriculum making for human welfare development. Participants learned strategies for using the GeoCapabilities platform to enhance teacher preparation programs and support international collaborative projects involving pre-service and in-service teachers. One of the platform’s modules (Module 1) was demonstrated, which features an activity based on international vignettes of powerful disciplinary knowledge.

Geographical Association Conference, University of Manchester, UK (April 2015)

GeoCapabilities: making an impact through curriculum making and leading future geography teaching.

GeoCapabilities (we argued) tackles the ‘next chapter’ in curriculum making. This interactive session demonstrated and discussed with participants how the GeoCapabilities project is empowering teachers to re-establish and reclaim the future of geography teaching using powerful knowledge and pedagogies – justified through its impact on young people’s (geo)capabilities.

Geography Teacher Educators’ Conference, Oxford, UK (February 2015)

GeoCapabilities: Helping teachers connect geographical knowledge and educational aims.

This session briefly outlined the purpose and value of the capabilities approach to geography education and teaching. It revealed initial findings of a small-scale international research study, which outlined some implications for teacher education and the potential to develop a capabilities approach in geography education. It outlined the next stage of the project which aims to connect with teachers and engage them through analysis of their understanding about the purpose of geography education, via self-analysis of their current planning and teaching practices.

Viikki Teacher Training School, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (January 2015)

Workshop: Curriculum making & geography teaching & the new curriculum

Curriculum making, geography teaching & the new national curriculum for Finland. This workshop was organised for geography teachers from training schools at the University of Helsinki.

International Geographical Union Regional Event, Kraków, Poland (August 2014)

Geography Teacher Education and GeoCapabilities

This presentation outlined the results of a small scale survey into the status of geography education in seven countries –  England, Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Sweden and the USA.  A small group of geography educators and classroom practitioners in each country were invited to express their understanding about the purpose(s)  and value of geography education, prompted by a series of questions, and preliminary  findings were presented. Delegates were invited to offer comments on the findings.

Geographical Association Annual Conference, Guildford, UK (April 2014)

What is powerful knowledge in geography?

Thiworkshop explored  the meaning of powerful knowledge and how it relates to GeoCapabilities, attended by practising teachers and teacher educators. This workshop began to develop the idea of powerful knowledge ‘vignettes’.

American Association of Geographers, Tampa, Florida, USA (April 2014)

Introducing GeoCapabilities (Panel Session)

Panelists: Tine Béneker, David Lambert, Daniel Van Middelkoop, Sirpa Tani, Anke Uhlenwinkel. The Panel was chaired by Michael Solem. Some video clips from this session can be found on this website at the top of this page. Questions explored included:

  • What are capabilities and how are they different from competencies?
  • What is the relationship between geography, capabilities and “powerful knowledge”?
  • What evidence is there for the potential of capabilities to understand the purposes and values of geography education and how aims are shared internationally?
  • Are there limitations to a capabilities approach for interpreting educational aims in different countries?

Capabilities analysis (Paper)

The authors (Associate Partners Béneker and Van Middelkoop) presented findings from a capabilities analysis of the geography curriculum in Dutch secondary education.

In what ways in geography ‘powerful knowledge’ and why does this question matter? (Paper)

The main part of this paper explored Michael Young’s conception of ‘powerful knowledge’ as a right and the means by which education can be transformational, especially for the disadvantaged in society.


This workshop introduced the ‘capabilities approach’ to teacher preparation and curriculum making in geography. Participants reviewed a definition of capabilities. Participants reviewed the findings of collaborative research undertaken by the project.They considered a case study of human capability deprivation.  Participants also posed ideas for case studies illustrating relationships between capabilities and geographical knowledge and skills. This was valuable initial feedback in the early stages of the project.