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Gold Medal (RGS)

The Gold Medal presented by the Royal Geographical Society 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 promotion of geographical science and discovery". Royal approval is required before an award can be made.

The awards originated as an annual gift of fifty guineas from King William IV, first made in 1831, "to constitute a premium for the encouragement and promotion of geographical science and discovery". The Royal Geographical Society decided in 1839 to change this monetary award into the two gold medals.

Recipients have included the notable geographers David Livingstone (1855), Nain Singh Rawat (1877), Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen (1878), Alfred Russel Wallace (1892) and William Woodville Rockhill (1893), to more recent winners including Professor William Morris Davis (1919), Sir Halford John Mackinder (1945), Professor Richard Chorley (1987) and Professor David Harvey (1995).

Past recipients

1948 Wilfred Thesiger exploration of Arabian deserts.
Date Founder's Medal Contribution Patron's Medal Contribution
2014 Professor Geoffrey Boulton for the development and promotion of glaciology Hans Rosling for the encouragement and development of the public understanding of geographical data and influencing decision makers across the world
2013 Professor Keith Richards for the encouragement and development of physical geography and fluvial geomorphology Michael Palin for the promotion of geography and geographical education
2012 Professor Charles Withers for the encouragement and development of historical and cultural geography Alastair Fothergill for promoting globally the understanding of the world’s environments
2011 Professor David Livingstone for the encouragement and promotion of historical geography Dr Sylvia Earle for the encouragement, development and promotion of ocean science and exploration
2010 Professor Diana Liverman encouraging, developing and promoting understanding of the human dimensions of climate change Jack Dangermond promoting geographical science through the development of Geographical Information Systems
2009 Dr Alan Baker contributions to historical geography Professor Lord Nicholas Stern for contributions to climate change policy
2008 Professor Julian Dowdeswell encouragement, development and promotion of glaciology Professor Jesse Walker encouragement, development and promotion of coastal geomorphology
2007 Professor Roger Barry international leadership of research on climate and climate change Professor Paul Curran international development of geographical science through remote sensing and Earth observation
2006 Professor Derek Gregory international leadership of research in human geography and social theory Professor Jack Ives role internationally in establishing the global importance of mountain regions
2005 Professor Sir Nicholas Shackleton research on Quaternary palaeoclimatology Professor Jean Malaurie lifelong study of the Arctic and its peoples
2004 Professor Leszek Starkel advancing international understanding of palaeohydrology and geomorphology Sydney Possuelo contributions to Brazilian people’s rights and explorations in Amazonia
2003 Professor Michael Frank Goodchild contributions to geographical information science Harish Kapadia contributions to geographical discovery and mountaineering in the Himalayas
2002 Bruno Messerli mountain research and the public awareness of mountain issues Dr David Keeble advancing knowledge in economic and industrial geography
2001 Professor William Graf research on dryland river processes, and the interactions of science and public policy Reinhold Messner mountaineering and mountain regions
2000 Professor Brian Robson urban geography and geographical perspectives to urban policy Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG KCVO promoting the understanding of global environmental issues in governmental and wider public arena
1999 Professor Mike Kirkby development of processed-based and modelling approaches in geomorphology Doug Scott, CBE mountaineering and the knowledge of mountain regions
1979 Professor David Stoddart For contributions to geomorphology, the study of coral reefs and the history of academic Geography Robin Hanbury-Tenison For leadership of scientific expeditions, including the Mulu Expedition, and for his work on behalf of primitive


1965 Dr. E. F. Rootes For Polar exploration and research, with special reference to the Canadian Arctic Professor Lester C. King For geomorphological exploration in the Southern Hemisphere
1902[1] General Sir Frederick Lugard For persistent attention to African Geography Major Percy Molesworth Sykes For journeys in Persia and for the support given by him to native explorers


  1. ^ "Royal Geographical Society" The Times (London). Saturday, 15 March 1902. (36716), p. 12.

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