Tuesday 21 March 2023 10:43am
A geographer whose career has focused on ensuring those who are marginalised, vulnerable, and discriminated against are made visible and included, has been appointed the new Ron Lister Chair in Geography.
Professor Tracey Skelton, formerly of the National University of Singapore, took up the endowed Chair position last month and says it is an honour to continue Professor Lister’s legacy.
“I consider Ron Lister to be an outstanding geographer who was deeply committed to balancing both human and physical geography and was a genuine ambassador for the subject. His intellectual mission connects with my own determination to address inequalities, social injustice, positive recognition of diversity and a commitment to inclusion,” she says.
The position was established in 2004 in recognition of the significant academic contributions and input made by Professor Lister to the University and the wider Otago community.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson says she is pleased to have an academic of Professor Skelton’s experience taking up the role.
“On behalf of the University, I would like to thank the donor for their generous support of the Ron Lister Chair in Geography. Their commitment all those years ago has enabled us to secure someone of Professor Skelton’s calibre, which we know will be of benefit to not only our kaimahi and tauira, but the wider community.”
School of Geography Head Professor Etienne Nel says the School is also delighted to welcome Professor Skelton.
“Tracey has had a long and distinguished career during which she has held various research fellowship and visiting positions at universities in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Nordic countries, New Zealand, and the UK.
“In her new role at Otago she will take on key teaching responsibilities related to critical geographies and strengthen her already solid research base and collaborations in New Zealand and further afield,” he says.
Professor Skelton’s work has focussed on issues related to young people, gender, sexualities, politics, and urban studies. She has published nearly 130 books or articles on her work.
Noteworthy academic achievements include her role as Lead Co-editor and Commissioner of the Taylor and Francis research book series Critical Geographies, which has produced 20 monographs and edited books, and her role as Editor-in-Chief and Co-Editor of the Springer Reference 12 volume collection Geographies of Children and Young People.
In her role as the Ron Lister Chair, she plans to build synergies, make connections within the University and beyond, and work to deepen and support the School’s existing strengths.
“I think the University of Otago, and particularly the School of Geography, are excellent spaces of initiatives, innovation and productive versatility.
“People really matter, the environment really matters, and hence we have to work to combine our expertise, skilfulness and efficacy to ensure that the land and people are protected and connected, and that geography and learning are continued and supported,” Professor Skelton says.
About the late Professor Ron Lister
Former Professor Ron Lister served as the Head of the Geography Department for nearly 30 years and inspired many students with his passion for the integrative discipline which aims to establish knowledge of relationships between and among human and natural systems.
Professor Lister graduated in 1939 with first class honours from University College in London and accepted the position of Lecturer in Charge at Otago in 1952 after working for four years at Auckland University College.
Initially teaching all the courses himself, he threw himself at the task of developing the department, while his own specialty was the Regional Geography of Asia. This emphasis resulted from his war service from 1940-46 during which he served in South East Asia.
In 1965, Professor Lister was appointed the Foundation Chair of Geography. He retired in 1981 and passed away in 1985.
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