Exploring the Judgements of Powerful Outsiders on the Discipline of Geography in Ireland.


  • Frank Houghton Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA 99202
  • Sharon Houghton University of Limerick




Buoyant student numbers and recent examinations of the state of Geography in Ireland may well be cause for celebration. However, complacency is inappropriate. The future prospects of Geography in the Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA) remain somewhat uncertain, and the threats to the discipline are pervasive both internationally and nationally. Geography is not well established in the University sector in Ireland. Geography degrees are taught through Mary Immaculate College at the University of Limerick and Dublin City University has only started to award such degrees since the incorporation of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. At the same time, Geography remains largely unknown in the IoT sector. Evidence from elsewhere has amply demonstrated that Geography is a vulnerable discipline and its academic ‘legitimacy’ cannot simply be taken for granted. This research explores the vulnerability of the discipline in detail, before continuing to explore how Geography is conceptualised by leading stakeholders in a purposive sample of Irish third-level institutions where Geography is/ was not taught. Findings indicate that what little exposure stakeholders had with Geography was overwhelmingly negative. Geography was also considered too broad, having a role as an enabler of other disciplines, rather than as a discipline in its own right. Geography was also perceived as being a rather basic, static, traditional, low status academic discipline. The implications for Geography as a discipline are discussed, and recommendations suggested.

Author Biographies

Frank Houghton, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA 99202

College of Health Science & Public Health

Sharon Houghton, University of Limerick

Department of Education & Professional Studies




How to Cite

Houghton, F., & Houghton, S. (2017). Exploring the Judgements of Powerful Outsiders on the Discipline of Geography in Ireland. Irish Geography, 49(2), 71–102. https://doi.org/10.55650/igj.2016.1235





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