The Rural Geography Research Group Committee are extremely sad to report that Professor Paul Cloke of the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Exeter, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday 25th May. Amongst his richly diverse contributions to Geography, Paul had a particularly massive impact on the study of Rural Geography within the UK and worldwide. This was recently recognised through the award of the Royal Geographical Society’s prestigious Victoria Medal for his “contribution to rural geography and to the wider discipline”.
Paul’s influence has not only been through his extensive, engaging and frequently highly innovative writings but also via his teaching and supportive supervision of undergraduates and over a hundred postgraduate students. He will also be remembered by many for his numerous acts of caring encouragement of colleagues and other researchers who he met at talks and conferences across the world. Paul very much lived out his faith and his politics in his daily practice or, as he recently expressed it in a response to the Victoria Medal award, always sought to ‘walk the talk’.
Paul also exerted major influence on rural scholarship and scholars through editorial work on the Journal of Rural Studies, which he founded in 1985 and continued to edit, with strong support from his wife Viv, until 2011. As outlined in an encyclopaedia entry1 on him, this journal became “an extremely significant agent in the articulation of international rural research from a plurality of perspectives” (Phillips, 2009: 158), all of which helped Rural Geography become a highly dynamic and vibrant sub-discipline by the turn of the century.
The encyclopaedia entry also recorded that whilst Paul was a major academic influence in and beyond rural geography through his writings and teaching, many people were influenced by him through informal interactions. His enthusiasm and passion were infectious, and he gave time, in often busy schedules, to engage with people in a very personal way.
Paul Cloke will be strongly missed in so many ways by so many people. However, our special thoughts, and without doubt those of others who knew Paul, go out to his wife, Viv, to his children Liz and Will, and to the rest of Paul’s family and many friends.
Paul’s family have requested that this news not be shared on any social media platforms. If you wish to leave a tribute or message, you can do so on the following page: Professor Paul Cloke Memorial Tribute.
1You can read the full encylopaedia entry here: