Michael Palin awarded honorary doctorate from St Andrews

Monty Python legend Michael Palin has been awarded an honorary doctorate from one of Scotland’s most prestigious universities.

The accomplished actor, writer and television presenter was made an honorary Doctor of Science by the University of St Andrews, Fife, this morning.

He joins fellow Monty Python members Terry Jones, who was previously awarded an honorary degree, and John Cleese, a former rector, in having links with the university.

His doctorate was awarded in recognition of his contribution to the understanding of contemporary geography issues.

In addition to his half century as one of the UK’s most revered entertainers, Michael Palin served as the President of the Royal Geographical Society between 2009 and 2012.

To modern audiences he is, perhaps, best known for his series of travel documentaries which has seen him visit both the north and south poles, the Himalayas and the Sahara Desert.

In 2008, he was also awarded the Livingstone Medal which recognises ‘outstanding public service in which geography has played an important part’.

In an address directed to the chancellor of the University of St Andrews, the Geography professor William Austin hailed Michael Palin.

Mr Austin said: “In his inimitable, understated fashion, he has gently, yet persuasively, educated and inspired millions about nature and culture and the interactions between them around the world.

“As a singularly effective President of the Royal Geographical Society he worked energetically in promoting geographical understanding and the discipline of geography in schools and universities across the UK, contributing to the subject’s surging popularity in recent years.

“In a much-quoted statement, he is on record as saying that “Geography is the subject which holds the key to our future”, encapsulating his belief in the power of an integrative geographic vision to address today’s pressing environmental issues.

“Chancellor, in recognition of his major contribution to the public understanding of contemporary geographical issues and his notable service to the development of the discipline of geography in UK secondary and tertiary education (and a bit of writing and acting along the way), I invite you to confer the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, on Mr Michael Palin. “

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