The Basics of Geomorphology: Key Concepts

The Basics of Geomorphology: Key Concepts

Books

Kenneth J Gregory & John Lewin

Abstract

A cutting edge title from two world renowned academics

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  • Front Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

    About the Authors

    Ken Gregory obtained his BSc, PhD and DSc from the University of London, was made CBE in 2007 for services to geography and higher education, and is currently President of the British Society for Geomorphology. He is Visiting Professor of Geography and Environment, University of Southampton. Research interests include river channel change and management, palaeohydrology and the development of physical geography, and he has written more than 140 papers, and authored and edited 30 books including The Earth's Land Surface (2010) and The SAGE Handbook of Geomorphology (2011). He has three Honorary degrees, and received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society (1993), the Linton award of the BGRG (1999), and the Geographical medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (2000).

    John Lewin graduated with a BA and PhD from the University of Southampton. He was Professor of Physical Geography at Aberystwyth University, where he also served as Dean of the Science Faculty and Pro-Vice-Chancellor. His major research interest lies in fluvial geomorphology, especially floodplains, and the development of landforms over a full range of timescales. He is a former chairman of the British Society for Geomorphology and received the Society's Linton Award in 2011.

    Preface

    A headline in The Times for 17th May 2013 was ‘“Medieval” lectures could be replaced by free online courses’. This was stimulated by a conference hosted by UUK, called to consider the popularity of free online courses offered by many of America's leading universities. Views espoused included: students don't look forward to listening to a distant lecturer in a lecture hall with as many as 400 other students; students place high value on quality programme time, interactive content time with the academic community; lectures were medieval concepts introduced in Europe nearly 800 years ago and haven't changed much in that time; universities will be forced to rethink what they offer, with fees as high as £9,000 per year, as millions of people are now able to sign up for free courses anywhere in the world; new university buildings no longer include large lecture theatres; new methods of learning include providing 20 minute video lectures on line before the students attend timetabled classes with further discussion; flip lectures have developed where students watch a video or talk beforehand and then have questions or discussion in the lecture hall. These views illustrate dramatically the new environment in higher education learning, but how does it affect individual disciplines and books written for students? Perhaps no longer do they depend upon the comprehensive and often very substantial volumes of the past, together with separate treatments of a discipline, its philosophy and epistemology. In higher education do we now need books that focus on the very heart of the discipline, thus providing students with an anchor from which they can work? A foundation for independent, self-paced learning is required for this new and unfolding learning environment.

    Concepts provide just such an integrating theme. In any discipline it is necessary to know those that have prevailed and evolved during the development of that discipline in order to understand the ones that are paramount in contemporary study. With the enormous volume of literature now available, much being too technically demanding to be understood easily, some students may be satisfied by knowing the basics about concepts. However, we hope that many will also want to know how the concepts were derived and to understand debates of the past and present. Students may be confused by the vigour and tenor of some debates, by those geomorphologists who take such a pessimistic view that it is difficult to discern what is left! In attempting to present a balanced view we see this book on at least two levels: first the basic content of the text, supported secondly by a web resource which enables enquiries to be updated, pursued further and in greater depth - exactly what academic enquiry is all about. Where the mass lecture is no longer the central element in higher education learning, the focus of this book can provide the basis for interactive questioning by students as they approach the discipline through enquiries related to the fundamental concepts. In that way this book provides access to the basics of landform science in a way appropriate for new learning environments.

    This book aspires to provide a pedagogic text that gives a detailed description and analysis of key concepts for geomorphology. The intended readership encompasses senior undergraduates and early stage postgraduates looking for a full treatment of key concepts - where they come from and what they involve. It deliberately differs from textbooks by providing an in-depth treatment of the concepts, ideas and hypotheses that lie at the heart of geomorphology, rather than supplying a comprehensive region-by-region or system-by-system treatment of earth surface processes and forms. In order to present sufficient material in a short book so that it is central to student learning, we use tables to consolidate information, the web support to provide greater elaboration, together with extensive references and examples in Progress in Physical Geography. Topics for enquiry are suggested not only to illuminate concepts but also to facilitate geomorphological understanding. Now that recent conceptual developments have been absorbed it is very timely to focus on the underlying concepts, which are extremely appropriate for adaptive learning. This potentially enables what Bill Gates has identified as ‘a special time in education’ .

    Acknowledgments

    Every effort has been made to establish copyright, make acknowledgement and obtain permissions for figures, but if any have been missed please let us know.

    Ken GregoryJohn Lewin

    How to use the Book and Website

    How to use this Book

    The Basics of Geomorphology: Key Concepts aspires to provide a pedagogic text that gives a detailed description and analysis of key concepts for geomorphology, providing an in-depth treatment of the concepts, ideas and hypotheses that lie at the heart of geomorphology, rather than a comprehensive region-by-region or system-by-system treatment of earth surface processes and forms. In order to present sufficient material in a short book so that it is central to student learning, we use tables to consolidate information, the web support to provide greater elaboration, together with extensive references and examples in Progress in Physical Geography. We want to provide access to the basics of landform science in a way that is appropriate for new learning environments.

    The book is complete so that a reader can gain sufficient understanding of the background to geomorphology and its development (Chapter 1), to major concepts which are each the subject of chapters (Chapters 219), and then of geomorphology itself as a concept (Chapter 20). To assist the reader a synopsis of content is given at the beginning of each chapter, and references for further reading are given at the end of the chapter. Topics are suggested to encourage further thinking about the subject matter of the chapter or to be a focus for discussion. Citations in the text of Figures, Tables and Boxes that are provided on the website are in bold so that Figure X.n, Table Y.n or Box.Z.n will appear in this form.

    Where the mass lecture is no longer the central element in higher education learning, the focus of this book can provide the basis for interactive questioning by students as they approach the discipline through enquiries related to the fundamental concepts.

    How to use the Website

    The website (study.sagepub.com/gregoryandlewin) provides a resource which:

    • gives detailed material - to provide a more in-depth understanding of the content of the chapters, and thus several detailed tables have been compiled which show how concepts developed; several chapters refer to Boxes which contain material that amplifies sections in the chapters of the book;
    • makes figures and diagrams available - those that are essential for understanding the text are included in the book but those that elaborate points made or examples can be accessed on the website. Citations in the text of Figures, Tables and Boxes that are provided on the website are emboldened as Figure X.n, Table Y.n or Box Z.n.
    • provides a reference list which includes all the references cited in the text: for a book of this kind the references cited are necessarily numerous, many students may not need to refer to all of them, but they can be accessed as required;
    • makes a glossary available - throughout the book key concepts are the basis for book chapters and other concepts are mentioned (often shown in bold in the text) including many that have been used in other disciplines but are pertinent to geomorphology. The glossary has been compiled to aid readers by giving brief definitions for major concepts; it is not intended to be exhaustive because a glossary is available in The Earth's Land Surface (Gregory, 2010) and many definitions are provided in The Dictionary of Physical Geography (Thomas and Goudie, 2000); some terms have been adopted from the variety of parallel sciences but may be used in slightly different senses in geomorphology;
    • suggests relevant articles in Progress in Physical Geography - there are many recent articles, including Progress Reports, that provide helpful up-to-date surveys of recent developments. By accessing these readers can be notified about the most recent developments.

    The basic content of the text, supported by the web resource, enables enquiries to be pursued further, in greater depth and up-dated - exactly what academic enquiry is all about.


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