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Developing Spatial Literacy
Learning the spatial skills of Geography
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The Political Geography of Gasoline Prices

The Political Geography of Gasoline Prices | Developing Spatial Literacy |
Rising gas prices make people unhappy, but the pain is felt most acutely in states where it is unlikely to make an electoral difference.


There are numerous geographic themes that make this article a worthwhile read.  The evidence suggests that states the vote more solidly Republican are being hit hardest at the pump.  Gasoline expenditures as a share of personal income are higher in pro-Republican states than pro-Democrat states.  Understanding the demographic base of each party as well as population density explains much of this issue: states that are very rural drive greater distances with less public transit option, spending more per capita on gasoline.  Also, since the most affluent urban centers are Democrat-leaning, they spend a less sizeable portion of their income on gasoline.  This article would be a nice resource for a classroom/small group discussion.  

Via Seth Dixon, Lauren Moss
Siobhan Chantigian's curator insight, April 23, 2014 11:39 PM

This is an interesting article about how rising gas prices and how people are going to vote.  

Annie Christofferson's comment, April 27, 2014 6:06 PM
I thought this it was interesting how it said that the states that it really makes a difference in are the ones that don't have as big an impact on the electoral college. It doesn't seem quite fair.
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Defining an Independent Nation

Defining an Independent Nation | Developing Spatial Literacy |
While the terms country, state, and nation are often used interchangeably, there is a difference.


A straightforward explanation of important vocabulary terms for a political geography unit. 

Via Seth Dixon
Don Brown Jr's comment, July 16, 2012 10:07 PM
Do you think current maps contribute to the issue of using the terms country, state and nation interchangeably as they do not visually distinguish the differences between them?
James Hobson's curator insight, October 9, 2014 10:54 PM

(Europe topic 6)

The contrast between these 3 terms (and combinations of them) has always been confusing to me, and I'd assume many others as well. Though this video explains fairly well the differences in definitions, I don't think that they have been consistently used as accurately as possible. Though terms like United Nations and the Navajo Nation seem to make sense to me, "one nation under God," as taken from the  Allegiance, might arguably be a technicality. Though the American spirit can be considered to have formed its own nation, there is undoubtedly a multitude of nations within (or at least partially in) the United States. (I'm not disagreeing with the phrase, but just thought it was worth mentioning during this time when the world has changed so much since its inception) Also, what is considered a nation by one group is not necessarily acknowledged by another, and this is what can lead to miscommunications, loss in translation, and arguably tensions, with the Middle East serving as a good example.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 8:04 PM

This short video does a great job of explaining the differences between these terms. Often they are wrongly used interchangeably while in reality they have distinct meanings and cannot simply be swapped out for another.

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Santorum Sees Divide Between Rural and Urban America

Santorum Sees Divide Between Rural and Urban America | Developing Spatial Literacy |

The 2012 election are showing again some of the cultural, political and economic divides that exist in the United States.  This above map portrays the 2008 presidential election, with counties that voted for McCain in red and Obama in blue.  Rick Santorum has said, in reference the political map of the United States today, "Think about it, look at the map of the United's almost all red except around the big cities."  Rick Santorum, by taking on “blue” big cities, is also criticizing the Republicans, his own party. This political portray is an attempt to accentuate the difference between rural and urban America to hit his key demographic, but it also begs for further analysis into the electoral geography of the United States.  As some social media skeptics have retorted, "It's all blue except where nobody lives."  Which is it?  What do these patterns say about United States politics?  Why do these patterns exist?  For more maps that shed light on the spatial voting patterns from the 2008 election, see:

Via Seth Dixon
Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 10, 2013 10:50 PM

Senator Santorum has made a good point here. For years his party (and even the other) have been redistricting their states in order to gain advantages in state elections.  It has been common knowledge which areas are leaning red and which are blue.  Yet nobody seems to be trying to strenghten their base in weaker areas. One thing that would've helped immensely is if the Republicans had strengthened their support among immigrants and African Americans. They heavily populate these urban areas that Republicans need support in in order to strengthen their base.

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, September 18, 2014 1:17 PM

While looking at this map in class, and then various other maps it is interesting to look at the correlations between the geography of the area and the way they voted. For example, the cotton belt votes democratic, which would make sense given the history behind the location.

Miles Gibson's curator insight, February 15, 1:23 AM

Unit 4 political geography

This picture explains how political development and parts of America have come to understand and define elements of the world's own cultural backgrounds of urban and rural development. The picture shows that the urban areas are developing in the way of republicans.

This picture relates to unit 4 because it shows how the geography and urban development creates a dividing line of politics and governmental work in the area of rural area to convert to the political status of the urban areas.

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The Geography of Drug Trafficking

The Geography of Drug Trafficking | Developing Spatial Literacy |
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Web Site... 


Afghanistan and Burma (a.k.a.-Myanmar) are the world's leading producers of the illicit narcotic of heroin.  What environmental, political, developmental and cultural factors play a role in these distribution networks?  What geographic factors contribution to the production of these drugs to be located in these particular places?  Follow the link for a map of global cocaine distribution patterns.   

Via Seth Dixon
Don Brown Jr's comment, July 5, 2012 10:44 PM
Favorable environmental factors such as mountainous terrain, helps isolate and conceal these regions which creates conditions that makes the production of heroin and cocaine easier. Since you can’t conquer the environment, the best alternative may be further international cooperation to hinder drug trafficking and production.
Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, July 23, 2012 10:54 AM
The second half of this article shows just how crucial of a part Mexico plays in the drug trade. Most of the cocaine that comes from the Andean region is pushed up through Mexico and the Carribean only 17 tons are sold in Mexico while 165 tons are distributed into the United States. The US makes up 40% of global cocaine consumption, leaving a huge opportunity open to Mexico.
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Gerrymandering 101

This video is a good primer to show before the ReDistricting Game ( ).

Via Seth Dixon
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The Geography of the 47%

The Geography of the 47% | Developing Spatial Literacy |
The states with the highest share of tax non-payers may actually contain the very conservative votes that Romney needs.
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Younger Africa

Younger Africa | Developing Spatial Literacy |
Across Africa, a continent where the average age is about 19, protests have flared against leaders who may have outstayed their welcome.


This interactive mapping feature compares two distinct data sets in an attempt to show that the two are correlated on the continent of Africa.  The base layer of this thematic map is demographic, noting how much of the overall population in a given country is under the age of 16.  The interactive feature with point data describes the political unrest or instability in that particular country. 


Questions to ponder: Does the cartographer 'convince' you that Africa's having a very young (globally speaking) demographic cohort led towards greater political instability?  Are there other factors worth considering?  What does this map and it's embedded data tell us?    


Tags: Africa, political, conflict, unit 4 political, states, governance, population, demographics, unit 2 population. 

Via Seth Dixon
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Systems of Government by Country

Systems of Government by Country | Developing Spatial Literacy |
This map shows Systems of Government in the World.


This is an excellent tool for comparing political institutions around the world and analyzing regional difference between political systems at a global scale. 

Via Seth Dixon
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The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained

Via Seth Dixon
Al Picozzi's curator insight, October 7, 2013 12:10 AM

A great and entertaining way to explain this part of Europe.  I know I have in the past used the terms England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom to all refer to the same thing. It was also amazing to see that people are the same everywhere in that the people in Wales do not consider themselves British, much the same way the people in Sicily consider themselves Sicilain and not Italian. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 12:09 PM

As an outsider looking in the concept of the United Kingdom is a little confusing. We are taught to view Scotland as its own country, but they are countries within a larger structure. This video makes what would confuse many Americans and condenses it into a clear video that is just about 5 mins.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, December 12, 2014 4:38 PM

Many people often interchange the UK, Great Britain, and England, but in reality, they all describe different different things. The UK is a country of four countries, each with equal power, including Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, and Wales but they are all considered British citizens.UK is a political term, describing a country. Great Britain is a physical geographical term describing the land mass containing Scotland, Wales, and England.  The British Isles refers to both Great Britain and the Island of Ireland. All of these terms describe different things, being characterized by either political affiliation or geographic characteristics. 

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One Island, Two Countries

One Island, Two Countries | Developing Spatial Literacy |
Divided islands, like Market in the Baltic Sea, conform to a version of Sayre's law: the smaller the territory, the more confusing the border.


In the latest chapter of the Borderlines series in the New York Times, explores the smallest divided island with characteristic insight, humor and intellectual eclecticism.  "Borders allow humankind to separate what nature has united. But an island is a naturally closed entity. Its shoreline is the boundary of the bubble separating it from the rest of the world. And then impose a human-made barrier on an island? What is the meaning of isolation — a word derived, in fact, from the Latin for island — if you have to share it with someone else?"

Via Seth Dixon
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The ReDistricting Game

The ReDistricting Game | Developing Spatial Literacy |

This is an interactive way to teach the importance of the redistricting process.  Mapmakers (and geography) are crucial to the process.  This game shows students how the process can be manipulated and if you understand local demographics and voting patterns, subtle shifts in the district borders can swing elections.  This is a great way to teaching gerrymandering and how political cartography can be.     

Via Seth Dixon
Ressources pour les cours d'anglais's curator insight, February 23, 2014 9:02 AM

J'ai regardé la vidéo de présentation et j'ai eu envie de jouer à ce jeu ! J'ai aimé le graphisme, la musique et la voix du narrateur. J'ai eu envie de continuer et je pense que mes élèves auraient eu également envie d'aller plus loin. Il ne me reste donc plus qu'à le tester !

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5 Stupidest Things Ever Done With Borders

5 Stupidest Things Ever Done With Borders | Developing Spatial Literacy |
Where you find a border, you usually find somebody pissed off about it.


Disclaimer: This article is more glib and crude in its language than I typically post.  However there is some great insight in this article about the curiosities that can occur on the borders that merits inclusion here.  Enclaves, walls, roads, glaciers, and tables all play prominent roles in these 5 quirky borders. 

Via Seth Dixon
Ms. Harrington's comment, July 24, 2012 6:48 PM
Wow, I never knew border issues like this existed! Some are strange, but they live with the issue, like Canusa and the Netherlands/Belgium. Some are high tension, like Pakistan and India. I guess some of these issues are inevitable, the border has to go somewhere, and people over hundreds of years have moved outward.
Don Brown Jr's comment, July 25, 2012 7:09 PM
Although some of these boarders were established for security reasons, many more like the one along the American boarder seem to be constructed for more symbolic purposes as a physiological rather than a physical barrier.
Gregory S Sankey Jr.'s curator insight, December 4, 2013 3:24 PM

Within this article the author said it well, referencing that although these borders just seem silly and "stupid" to us, those who live within these boundaries must have an incredibly frustrating life. Having to hop three-four borders to get to the mainland of your country sounds completely crazy. I'm glad I live in Rhode Island.

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The world is becoming more and more interconnected. Globalization changes how people consume, work and live almost everywhere on the world. Today, many economic, political, cultural or ecological relationships are not explainable from a national perspective. At the same time, a controversial debate about the consequences of globalization has begun.


Questions to ponder: What are the driving forces behind globalization? What areas are most impacted by globalization?  How does globalization benefit some, and adversely impact others? Why?


Tags: Globalization, economic, industry, NGOs, political, scale, unit 6 industry.

Via Seth Dixon
Maricarmen Husson's curator insight, May 3, 2013 11:39 AM

Globalización Globalization

Altaira Wallquist's curator insight, March 18, 4:47 PM

This article goes in depth to define and describe globalization.  It discusses globalization  through an economical, political, and cultural standpoint.


This connects to Unit 1 in that it discusses globalization and things from a global perspective. It all discusses the society we live in today.

Devyn Hantgin's curator insight, March 22, 10:18 PM


This video describes and really breaks down globalization. The video talks about how some countries benefit and some countries don't benefit from globalization. The video also separates globalization into three parts: economic, politics, and culture. It goes over the huge role that technology plays in globalization and covers it well.

This relates to our unit, because globalization is a huge factor in human geography as a whole. It is one of the main factors why our cultures are beginning to intertwine and have things in common.