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Mrs Elaine Hooton

Profile summary

Professional biography

Prior to starting my PhD, I worked as a teacher for 34 years. I graduated from UCL, in the days before mass computing, with a geography degree, and then qualified as a primary teacher. Over my teaching career I had many wonderful opportunities, becoming a primary Head Teacher and then moving into teaching older age groups. I always maintained a keen interest in environmental issues and developments, eventually returning to my geographical roots to teach A-level geography for nearly a decade.

I have always been really interested by the discovery aspect of learning and enjoy the 'journey' of exploration involved in research. I'm thrilled to have been given this opportunity by the OU. 



Research interests

My PhD project is titled 'Written In Stone: Evaluating Geodiversity as a Natural, Social and Economic Asset'. The aim is to develop an approach to assessing and assigning value to geodiversity. Geodiversity has often been called 'the silent partner' to biodiversity and this project seeks to promote consideration of the abiotic elements of landscapes and environments. The research will explore geodiversity's place within concepts such as ecosystem services and natural capital. Within this there are also a variety of aspects to examine regarding social connection and public benefit. Through this research our aim is to develop a framework for supporting how geodiversity can be seen to be of value. We aim for this to be a transferable approach allowing organisations, such as the National Trust, to better understand their geological assets and benefit their visitor experience.

I'm delighted to be a member of the Dynamic Earth Research Group and the Educational and Scholarship Research Group at the OU. 

I am interested in hearing from you if you think that you can contribute to this research. Please do get in touch by sending me an email....

Impact and engagement

Although I have only recently begun I have already been able to combine my teaching experience with this project. 6th October 2022 saw the inaugral UNESCO International Geodiversity Day and a shared lesson plan idea for teachers was accepted for inclusion on the official website. This went on to be included in the AQA A-level Geography Teacher Group Facebook page. In January 2023 I was honoured to attend, as an observer, the Royal Society 'Geodiversity and Society' meeting which brought together international speakers in geoheritage, geoconservation and biogeography. The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) hosted a postgraduate conference in April 2023 where I was pleased to present on 'Geodiversity: A Shift In Perspective?'. This generated much interest with my fellow speakers as we discovered varied links between geodiversity and their topics such as rewilding, circular economies and the spoil tips of South Wales. May 2023 saw outreach in the form of working with trainee teachers in Humanities, at the University of Bedfordshire, to share ideas on how physical, social, economic and cultural aspects of local landscapes can be taught in a cross-curricular way, potentially also using the concept of geodiversity. 

External collaborations

The Written In Stone project is supported with involvement from the National Trust and Natural England. Thank you.