Part 1: Origins
IGYS has its origins in a geography conference I attended in Rajasthan in 2008.
I had been very dissatisfied at the way things went there. I felt a well-organized conference where young geographers have a forum to present their research would be of use to them and the discipline of geography.
In 2013, I met Dhritiraj Sengupta, then a 3rd year BSc geography student at S P College (SPC) in Pune. He was eager to do innovative and different things in geography. I suggested to him that we organize a conference that fosters young geographers. He readily agreed.
He suggested that we call it the National Geography Youth Summit – 2014 (NGYS-2014).
Immediately, I telephoned Mrs Manjula Raman, Principal, Army Public School, Bengaluru. She is a great geography enthusiast … and a lively educator, always looking for ways to get children to learn new things in innovative ways. I had been conducting workshops for students at her school for some time already. Dhriti and I went to meet her at once. We told her our ideas and she readily agreed to give us all the venue support we needed.
From then on, she stayed engaged with it and we planned the conference.
A group of seven students from SPC, joined Dhriti and the rest of us remotely, via skype, to organize things. TIGS associates joined us and provided a lot of inputs. Dr Muthatha Ramanathan (in Bengaluru), Mr Sunil Ganu (in Pune), and Ms Charu Doshi (in Mumbai). We brainstormed and came up with many different ideas on the content and conduct of NGYS-2014.
In May 2014, the entire SPC team moved to Bengaluru for a month to get things done.
At the outset, Dr Muthatha Ramanathan emphasized to the student team that we don’t want them to just organize a conference, but to make a conference. The students should develop the intellectual content of the conference as well as work on its organization. The students took this to heart.
Every day, post-lunch, we would all sit in a circle and discuss the various ways in which we should engage with geography education. What were the things in geography education that they felt strongly about? What were the deficiencies that they say? How could these be improved? What is their vision of 21st century geography education? These and many other points were discussed.
The result was NGYS-2014, whose details you can read here.
As part of the ongoing discussions about TIGS programs, we all decided that we should have a “flag-ship” event. The experience of NGYS-2014 greatly enthused us. So, we decided that our flag-ship event would be a biennial event (every two years).
Thus, we started working on the next event.
In April 2015, I had a chance to visit my alma mater, the Geography Department at Kent State University, Ohio (USA). During chats there, the Schmidlins committed to attending the 2016 conference.
Thus, NGYS became IGYS – International Geography Youth Summit.
03 October 2016
Chandra Shekhar Balachandran
Founder & Director
The Institute of Geographical Studies