The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Felicity Wray

Felicity Wray

Felicity graduate in 2002 with a BA (Hons) in Geography. She is a researcher at the Urban Research Centre, University of Western Sydney.

Studying at Newcastle

Had it not been for Newcastle University and all that I learnt there I would not be in the position I am in now. The strength of local and regional development studies was central to fostering my interest in the drivers of uneven territorial development.

It equipped me with the right analytical and theoretical toolkit to both understand and critique economic development theory and practice right from my first year of undergraduate. This toolkit still stands me in good stead today given that Western Sydney faces similar, though not identical, challenges to local and regional development to the North East of England.

The content of the local and regional development modules combined with the enthusiasm for the subject by the lecturers was a primer for me going on to do postgraduate studies in the same topic.

Undertaking other human geography undergraduate modules on topics such as globalisation, gender, geographies of commodities, and third world development allowed me to be aware of issues and methods pertinent to other sub-disciplines of human geography.

It's a reflection of the wide and interesting range of modules offered on the geography degree.

Career profile

I currently work as a researcher at the Urban Research Centre based at the University of Western Sydney. Prior to this I was a lecturer in geography at the University of Western Australia and before then, held a fellowship at Newcastle University Business School.

After completing my BA in Geography I went on to undertake an MA in Human Geography Research Skills and a PhD in Economic Geography both in the geography department at Newcastle.

In my current position I undertake research that seeks to reveal, challenge and suggest policy recommendations for fostering more equal and sustainable local economic development in Western Sydney – the often poorer and forgotten cousin to Global Sydney.

My most recent project, conducted for Industry and Investment NSW, was to examine the barriers and impediments to growth and employment generation amongst the large Arabic business community within Western Sydney.

As part of having an academic job it is also expected that I publish my ideas and findings work in academic journals and books concerned with contemporary debates in economic geography and local and regional development.

Attending and presenting at conferences and workshops across the globe is an undeniable perk of the job too and has allowed me to see much of the world that I otherwise wouldn’t have visited.

Remembering Newcastle

The second year regional development field trip to Edinburgh, which involved a Q & A session with those responsible for bringing Harvey Nichols to Edinburgh, was certainly memorable as was our trip to the Scottish Parliament.

Having Dr Kate Manzo for a tutor also taught me lifelong skills about time-management, thinking critically and being able to reference correctly – skills I still draw on (and need) today.

The geography balls were also memorable for bringing the different year groups together and staff together.