Who got that job?

September 3, 2004

Kit Nicholson
Director, International Centre for the Uplands - Cumbria
Lancaster University
Job advertised in The Times Higher , January 9, 2004

The Cumbrian fells have long been a powerful source of inspiration to generations of artists, walkers and climbers. But is our modern world losing touch with our wild environs?

Operating from a business park in Hackthorpe, near Penrith, is a new type of research establishment. Situated well away from the campus of Lancaster University, the International Centre for the Uplands aspires to become the driving force behind a long-term vision for upland Cumbria, covering its economy, environment, society and culture.

Kit Nicholson, the centre's new director, is happy with this since the aim is to work with local communities. "We have a real excitement about upland areas and their value for modern society," he says.

"In an increasingly urban society, the uplands have become marginalised and people are frightened of the outdoors. One of our aims is to reconnect people with the uplands and help them feel more confident."

After 25 years of managing aid programmes in more than 50 countries, Mr Nicholson wanted a change. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of creating a long-term organisation from scratch rather than dipping into situations for only a few weeks," he says.

"Our work programmes and research will be determined by ordinary folk, so it will certainly be a challenge to design the right governance structures for the centre."

The centre will have a pivotal role in evaluating and influencing projects covering the environment, farming, rural economy and culture. Mr Nicholson says: "We want to be internationally recognised as the European equivalent of the Banff Centre for Mountain Cultures in Canada."

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