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Richard John Chorley (4 September 1927 – 12 May 2002) was an English geographer, and Professor of Geography at
Cambridge University The University of Cambridge is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III of England, Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest ...
, known as leading figure in quantitative geography in the late 20th century, who played an instrumental role in bringing in the use of
systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields ...
to geography.


Biography


Early education

Chorley was born in
Minehead Minehead is a coastal town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the ...
,
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the ...

Somerset
in an area known as the
West Country The West Country is a loosely defined area of south-western England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The I ...

West Country
, with roots in
Exmoor Exmoor is loosely defined as an area of hilly open moorland Moorland or moor is a type of habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relatio ...

Exmoor
and the Vale of
Taunton Deane Taunton Deane was a Non-metropolitan district, local government district with borough status in Somerset, England. Its council was based in Taunton. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of t ...
. He was a product of a local primary school and Minehead Grammar School. Later on, Chorley began studying
Geomorphology Geomorphology (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...

Geomorphology
as an undergraduate at the School of
Geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person t ...

Geography
at
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' u ...

Oxford
. He served with the
Royal Engineers The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the ''Sapper A sapper, also called pioneer Pioneer commonly refers to a settler who migrates to previously uninhabited or sparsely inhabited ...
from 1946 to 1948 and made it Lieutenant. Afterwards he went up to
Exeter College Exeter () is a city in Devon, England, on the River Exe northeast of Plymouth and southwest of Bristol. It is the county town of Devon, and home to Devon County Council and the University of Exeter. In Roman Britain, Exeter was established as ...
, where he obtained his BA with Honours in 1951. Later in 1954 he also obtained his MA at Oxford University, and in 1974 his
Sc.D. :''For the degree granted by Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all o ...
at Cambridge University. At Oxford he was greatly influenced by R.P. Beckinsale, who advised Chorley to go on to graduate study in the United States. He made a transatlantic move in 1951 as a
Fulbright Scholar The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright–Hays Program, is one of several United States Cultural Exchange Programs United States cultural exchange programs, particularly those programs with ties to the Bureau of Educational and Cultura ...
to
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of ...

Columbia University
where he was a graduate student in the Geology Department and explored the quantitative approach to land form evolution.


Career development

Chorley started his academic career as Instructor in Geography at Columbia University, New York in 1952. In 1954 he moved to
Brown University Brown University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two de ...

Brown University
, Providence, USA, where he was appointed Instructor in Geology. In 1957, Chorley needed to return to Britain for family reasons. In 1958 he was appointed a Demonstrator at
Cambridge University The University of Cambridge is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III of England, Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest ...
and proceeded to move rapidly up the university hierarchy with a readership in 1970 and ad hominem chair in 1974. From 1963 to 1978 he also co-directed the Madingley Geography Conferences. In 1964 was appointed British representative to the Commission on Quantitative Techniques of the
International Geographical Union The International Geographical Union (IGU; french: Union Géographique Internationale, UGI) is an international geography, geographical society. The first International Geographical Congress was held in Antwerp in 1871. Subsequent meetings led to ...
, where he was nominated chairman in 1968. In the same year he was also appointed Chairman of the Committee on the Role of Models and Quantitative techniques in Geographical Teaching of the
Geographical Association The Geographical Association (GA) is a United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for ...
. At Cambridge University from 1970 to 1975 Chorley served as Secretary of the Faculty Board of Geography and Geology. In 1972 he was appointed Deputy Head of the Department of Geography, Cambridge University, for the Lent and Michaelmas terms, and from 1984 to 1989 he was Head of the
Department of Geography, Cambridge University Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (administrative division), a geographical and administrative division within a country, ...
. In 1990 he was elected Vice-Master,
Sidney Sussex College Sidney may refer to: People * Sidney (surname), English surname * Sidney (given name), including a list of people with the given name * Sidney (footballer, born 1972), full name Sidney da Silva Souza, Brazilian football defensive midfielder * S ...
, Cambridge University.


Awards and honours

Chorley received a series of Awards and honours, such as: *1967 Awarded the Gill Memorial of the
Royal Geographical Society The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an discipline (academia), academic disci ...
for contributions to Physical Geography and quantitative studies. *1974 Elected first honorary life member of the
British Geomorphological Research Group The ''British Society for Geomorphology'' (BSG), incorporating the British Geomorphological Research Group (BGRG), is the professional organisation for British geomorphologists and provides a community and services for those involved in teachi ...
. *1981 Honors Award,
Association of American Geographers The American Association of Geographers (AAG) is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a coll ...
*1987 Awarded the
Patron's Medal The Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal consists of two separate awards: the Founder's Medal 1830 and the Patron's Medal 1838. Together they form the most prestigious of the society's awards. They are given for "the encouragement and promoti ...
of the Royal Geographical Society *1988 Elected an Honorary Member of the Italian Geographical Society *1988 Elected to the Council of the Royal Geographical Society


Death

Chorley died at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, on 12 May 2002 following a heart attack and was buried in Cambridge's Ascension Parish Burial Ground on the 21st; he was survived by his wife, Rosemary, and their two children. He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge. He married Rosemary More in 1965 and they had one son and one daughter.


Work


Physical geography at Cambridge

Cambridge had provided the launching pad for Chorley's revolutionary ideas. He rejected the prevailing
paradigm In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as ...
of the Davisian cycles of erosion and sought to replace these with a quantitative model-based paradigm with an emphasis on
General Systems Theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields ...
and numerical modelling. Richard Chorley's negative assessment of Davis theories led
Cliff Ollier Cliff Ollier (born 1931) is a geologist, geomorphologist, soil scientist, emeritus professor and honorary research fellow, at the School of Earth and Geographical Sciences University of Western Australia. He was formerly at Australian National Un ...
to state that "'Davis bashing' was a theme" for Chorley. Cambridge contained a strong group in
physical geography Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...
with colleagues that encouraged Chorley's ideas. It also provided a good environment for him to conduct his experiments. Chorley produced volumes of scientific papers in physical geography that codified his approach and allowed him to ask new questions about earth surface processes and ways they can be studied. Central to these was the concept of system dynamics, and his production of ''Physical Geography: A Systems Approach'' (1971) and ''Environmental Systems'' (1978) that influenced a generation of scholars. Chorley's studies ranged into
climatology Climatology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...
and
hydrology Hydrology (from Ancient Greek, Greek wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, ''hýdōr'' meaning "water" and wikt:λόγος, λόγος, ''lógos'' meaning "study") is the scientific study of the movement, distribution, and management of water on Earth and ...
where he cooperated with Colorado meteorologist Roger Barry on the text, ''Atmosphere, Weather and Climate'' (1968). Many of his writings were jointly authored or edited, including ''Water, Earth and Man'' (1969). In addition, Chorley launched in 1964 the first of a series of text on ''The History of the Study of Landforms''. Two further volumes were published in 1973 and 1991. At the time of Chorley's death, Volume 4 was nearing completion.


''Progress in Geography''

Instead of confining himself to physical geography, Chorley took a broad approach to change in geography as a whole. He did this first through a series of annual summer conferences held at
Madingley Hall Madingley is a small village near Cambridge, England. It is located close to the nearby villages of Coton, Cambridgeshire, Coton and Dry Drayton on the western outskirts of Cambridge. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 Census was 21 ...

Madingley Hall
near Cambridge, where his lectures helped form a basis of a series of volumes (notably ''Models in Geography'', 1967) that influenced the discipline. The second was by founding an annual series, "Progress in Geography", later converted into two influential quarterly journals, in which changes over the whole discipline could be recorded and assessed.


Selected publications

* Chorley, Richard J.
Geomorphology and general systems theory
'' Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1962. * Chorley, Richard J., and
Peter Haggett Peter Haggett (born 24 January 1933) is a British geographer and academic, Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Fellow in Urban and Regional Geography at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol. Haggett was born 1933 in the ...
, eds. ''Socio-economic models in geography.'' Vol. 249. Methuen, 1968. * Haggett, Peter, and Richard J. Chorley. Network analysis in geography. Vol. 67. London: Edward Arnold, 1969. * Chorley, Richard J., and Barbara A. Kennedy. ''Physical geography: a systems approach.'' London: Prentice-Hall, 1971. * Barry, Roger G., and Richard J. Chorley. ''Atmosphere, weather and climate.'' Routledge, 1992, 2009.


References


External links


Obituary on Cambridge University Website
* {{DEFAULTSORT:Chorley, Richard 1927 births 2002 deaths English geographers British systems scientists Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society Fellows of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge British geomorphologists Historians of geography Columbia University faculty People from Minehead