What factors lead to high pollution rates in Bakersfield, Los Angeles and Fresno? How are economic, industrial, political and environmental factors contributing to or mitigating the situation?
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Finding Materials: This site is designed for geography students and teachers to find interesting, current supplemental materials. To search for place-specific posts, browse this interactive map. To search for thematic posts, see http://geographyeducation.org/thematic/ (organized by the APHG curriculum). Also you can search for a keyword by clicking on the filter tab above.
Staying Connected: You can receive post updates in the way that best fits how you use social media.
Email: Click 'follow' button at top right of this page.
I hope that you enjoy the content and materials that you find on this website. This represents the best news, materials and resources that I have found that can be used in geography (and other) classrooms. Use the 'funnel' as a way to filter and search for resources of specific topics or places.
"A great resource full of great links to accompany the Geography Soup channel on Vimeo."
Geography Soup is a Vimeo channel designed to include interesting videos that are laden with geographic content in them. This powerpoint slideshow has resources designed to help you get the most flavor and substance out of these (and any other) video resources. This is especially great for K-12 students, physical and regional geography.
"In Venezuela, women are confronted with a culture of increasingly enhanced physiques fueled by beauty pageants and plastic surgery."
Unrealistic mannequins are nothing new...but this happens for some important cultural and economic reasons. Society produces mannequins and the mannequins are a part of the cultural landscape that has some normative ideals of beauty and gender. How does the media and society's images of the 'ideal body' influence and shape cultural values and aspirations? How has this changed over time and space?
This New York Times article shows some of the connections between cultural norms, mannequin production and plastic surgery. On the opposite side of the spectrum watch this video about the production of mannequins modeled on people with disabilities. The tag line for the project was "because who is perfect anyway?"
"Tensions escalated on Sunday when the broader Occupy Central protest movement threw its weight behind student-led protests, bringing forward a mass civil disobedience campaign due to start on Wednesday. China's leaders must be sitting uncomfortably in Beijing.
As long as the protests continue, there is a chance they will spread to the mainland, where many are unhappy with one-party rule. But if the protesters hold their ground, how far will Beijing allow events to spiral before getting directly involved?"
Hong Kong is probably the only place under the control of the People's Republic of China (PRC) where protests of this type against the government could have started. Hong Kong, once administered by the UK, was turned over to the PRC, but with special conditions that grant Hong Kong residents greater freedoms than those available the rest of the citizens of mainland China (One China, two systems). Hong Kong students are protesting for full universal suffrage and for the right to choose their own candidates--something that Beijing is not willing to concede; some autonomy yes, power to make further breaks with Beijing? No. In addition to political control, some students feel economically marginalized by Beijing's policies. In 1997, when Hong Kong became a part of the PRC, it represented 18% of the GDP of the country; today it is only 3% of the PRC's economic output. The Chinese govt. is currently blocking Instagram, trying to prevent the spread of viral images that show discontent. Still have questions? You are not the only one as the world turns it's gaze to China wondering about the strength of the Communist Party and the collective will of the protestors.
"A new study adds to growing evidence that the risk of fracking contaminating drinking water wells is to due to problems with the lining of the gas wells, not the high-pressure fracturing of deep shale to release natural gas. In a new study, scientists examined isotopes of helium and two other noble gases to identify the source of methane found in drinking water wells in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania and the Barnett Shale of Texas, areas where a lot of fracking has taken place. The pattern of isotopes suggested that the stray gas had leaked out of the well casing near the surface, rather than escaping from the fracked deep shale, according to a story in The Dallas Morning News. The findings will be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But, Karen Armstrong writes, the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple
After a bumpy beginning, secularism has undoubtedly been valuable to the west, but we would be wrong to regard it as a universal law. It emerged as a particular and unique feature of the historical process in Europe; it was an evolutionary adaptation to a very specific set of circumstances. In a different environment, modernity may well take other forms. Many secular thinkers now regard “religion” as inherently belligerent and intolerant, and an irrational, backward and violent “other” to the peaceable and humane liberal state – an attitude with an unfortunate echo of the colonialist view of indigenous peoples as hopelessly “primitive”, mired in their benighted religious beliefs. There are consequences to our failure to understand that our secularism, and its understanding of the role of religion, is exceptional. When secularisation has been applied by force, it has provoked a fundamentalist reaction – and history shows that fundamentalist movements which come under attack invariably grow even more extreme. The fruits of this error are on display across the Middle East: when we look with horror upon the travesty of Isis, we would be wise to acknowledge that its barbaric violence may be, at least in part, the offspring of policies guided by our disdain.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
Here's a somewhat regular argument I get in: Which states make up which regions of the United States? Some of these regions -- the West Coast, Mountain States, Southwest and Northeast are pretty cl...
Vernacular regions aren't defined by a one particular trait, but are how we think about places. These 'regions of the mind' are how we organize information about places, which is why these regions aren't sharp or precise. In a similar article, they investigate what we consider to be a part of the South using similar crowdsourcing data.
"In a paper published Thursday in Science, demographers from several universities and the United Nations Population Division conclude that instead of leveling off in the second half of the 21st century, as the UN predicted less than a decade ago, the world's population will continue to grow beyond 2100."
These articles from the Guardian and National Geographic were the first I'd heard of the new population projections for the future. For many years it was assumed that the global population would level out at around 9 billion; while that is still within the range of possibilities but these new projections indicate that it is much more likely that the total global population will be much higher than that. The geographic implications of this are far reaching.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
In the most innovative incubators of urban research, the lessons of Jane Jacobs are more vital than ever.
In the past few years, a remarkable body of scientific research has begun to shed new light on the dynamic behavior of cities, carrying important implications for city-makers. Researchers at cutting-edge hubs of urban theory like the University College London and the Santa Fe Institute have been homing in on some key properties of urban systems—and contradicting much of today's orthodoxy. Their findings have begun to feed into recent and upcoming gatherings on the future of cities—including lead-in events for the U.N.'s big 2016 Habitat III conference on sustainable development—and arming leaders in the field with new ammunition in the global battle against sprawl.
Breastfeeding can be a polarizing topic. Views vary not only from person to person, but also country to country, according to a new survey examining women's opinions on breastfeeding.
This is just one example of how our opinions, cultural values and sensibilities are shaped by the cultures and places in which we are immersed. How do normative attitudes shape how people use public space? How is the body (especially the female body) regulated in public space?
"For at least 70 years, the Red Delicious has dominated apple production in the United States. But since the turn of the 21st century, as the market has filled with competitors—the Gala, the Fuji, the Honeycrisp—its lead has been narrowing. Annual output has plunged."
The story of the Red Delicious is almost a perfect analogy for the food industry. It was genetically selected for its marketable skin, an aesthetically sumptuous red. The skin of the Red Delicious better covers bruises than other varieties and tastes more bitter. Consumers were buying what the industry promoted and “eating with their eyes and not their mouths.” But recently there has been a backlash in the United States and more American consumer are seeking out other varieties; meanwhile the apple producers are working on exporting this variety to around the world, but especially into Chinese markets.
"Berlin Bureau Chief Michael Slackman looks into the obsession with currywurst, a popular street dish that combines sausage, ketchup and curry powder, and brings different Berliners together."
This short video has been added to the the interactive map, Place-Based Geography Videos. This depiction of street foods in German cities is a rich, tangible example to show cultural patterns and processes. Currywurst is a unifying force across socioeconomic classes in Germany, but it is also a product of globalization and cultural interactions across regions. Culture is not static and this New York Times video can be used to teach the various concepts of culture; per the updated APHG outline, the initial concepts of culture are:
Question to Ponder: How are these 5 major elements of culture seen in this video?
"Join us to learn how you can connect your students with students around the world through global collaborative projects. Register at: http://on.natgeo.com/1ymyZdC "
Authorities use Google Earth to crack down on illegal activities.
This is an old clip, but a useful platform to discuss the ethics involved in using geospatial technologies, the expectations of privacy and issues of governance. This could also be used to discuss urban political geography and principles of planning. What are the limits to the legal and ethical uses of technologies?
"This is what a pyrocumulus cloud caused by the burning of over 28,000+ acres of forest looked like as the sun set. In person as these clouds were changing it wasn't all that noticeable when the huge plumes of smoke changed shape, but thanks to the magic of a time-lapse we get to behold the violent nature of the smoke cloud, including a storm cloud that emerged behind the main pyrocumulus."
Seeing this fire essential create it's own weather system is riveting. While this scene can be seen as beautiful on the macro-scale, it is horrific on the ground where the fire ravaged physical and human landscapes alike. Here is some satellite imagery of the fire.
"The transition from childhood to adulthood -- the 'coming of age' of boys who become young men and girls who become young women -- is a significant stepping stone in everyone’s life. But the age at which this happens, and how a child celebrates their rite of passage into adolescence, depends entirely on where they live and what culture they grow up in. Looking back, we'll never forget the majesty that was prom, or the excitement of hitting the dance floor at our friends' co-ed Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties, and why should we? Embarassing or amazing, they were pivotal moments in our lives that deserve remembering. On that note, here are thirteen of it the world’s most diverse coming of age traditions."
In many countries, eggs aren't refrigerated and they're still considered safe to eat. But in the U.S., we have to chill them, because we've washed away the cuticle that protects them from bacteria.
For many Americans that are traveling abroad for the first time, realizing that eggs aren't in the refrigerator is a bit of a culture shock (not to mention the moment they find milk in a box that also isn't being refrigerated). Agricultural practices dictate storage requirements and some things we might have imagined were universal are actually place-specific or peculiar to our cultural setting. What we are taught to think of as gross, appropriate, attractive or even sanitary is often steeped in a cultural context. So is it strange the we refrigerate our eggs in the United States, or that they don't in other places?
"Seldom has it been more important for Americans to form a realistic assessment of the world scene. But our current governing, college-educated class suffers one glaring blind spot.
Modern American culture produces highly individualistic career and identity paths for upper- and middle-class males and females. Power couples abound, often sporting different last names. But deeply held religious identities and military loyalties are less common. Few educated Americans have any direct experience with large groups of men gathered in intense prayer or battle. Like other citizens of the globalized corporate/consumer culture, educated Americans are often widely traveled but not deeply rooted in obligation to a particular physical place, a faith or a kinship."
This is a truly intriguing op-ed that argues that many Americans have a 'blind spot' by failing to recognize the power of religion and tribal bonds in global affairs. While many in the west assume that a new world order has emerged, these old communal forces still rule much of the world and they have some profound geopolitical implications (the author explores Russia, Asia and the Middle East in particular).
Commerce knits the modern world together in a way that nothing else quite does. Almost anything you own these days is the result of a complicated web of global interactions. And there's no better way to depict those interactions than some maps.
Occasionally these lists that say something like "40 maps that..." end up being an odd assortment of trivia that is interesting but not very instructive; but I am of a fan of these list produced by Vox. Not because they exhaustively explain the topic, but they give a strong visual introduction to a topic, such as this one on on the global economy.
"A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on the equivalent scale to major geological processes."
Many geologists and other scientists now recognize that we are in a new geologic era. This new era, called the Anthropocene, is distinguished by the fact that one species (homo sapiens), is dramatically modifying the environment. These modifications are impacting geologic processes to such a degree that this time period is geologically distinct (see this remote sensing interactive for examples of environmental change). Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize–winning scientist who champions the term Anthropocene declared, “It’s no longer us against ‘Nature.’ Instead, it’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be.” This video is a great primer for discussing the nature and extent of human and environmental interactions as related to industrialization, globalization and climate change. This is definitely one of my favorite resources.
"Burning Man takes place at the end of August every year in the barren and remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The weeklong festival is described by its organization as “an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.” Earth-bound photographers have chronicled the legacy of art, technology, design, and fashion at the event over the years, but we at Skybox wanted to know if we could capture the transformation of the city from space, with our constellation of SkySats. This is the result:
A full-fledged city of population 70,000, “Black Rock City” is built up in a matter of days, experienced for a single week, and disassembled just as quickly, leaving no trace."
Last week I posted about Burning Man, noting that the landscapes in this experimental culture are inherently ephemeral and fleeting. High resolution satellite imagery has captured the quick rise and fall of the Black Rock City. Perhaps the term 'rise and fall' might not aptly describe the formation and dismantling of a city of 70,000 people; it is more like the ebb and flow of the tide, certain to return again.
"Although we seldom think about them this way, most American communities as they exist today were built for the spry and mobile. We've constructed millions of multi-story, single-family homes where the master bedroom is on the second floor, where the lawn outside requires weekly upkeep, where the mailbox is a stroll away. We've designed neighborhoods where everyday errands require a driver's license. We've planned whole cities where, if you don't have a car, it's not particularly easy to walk anywhere — especially not if you move gingerly.
This reality has been a fine one for a younger country. Those multi-story, single-family homes with broad lawns were great for Baby Boomers when they had young families. And car-dependent suburbs have been fine for residents with the means and mobility to drive everywhere. But as the Baby Boomers whose preferences drove a lot of these trends continue to age, it's becoming increasingly clear that the housing and communities we've built won't work very well for the old."
Population change is frequently a concern of city planners at the local level. This article shows that major demographic shifts are going to mean major changes in our patterns in our cities as we become a 'greying' society.
"Argentina should be careful in considering the implications of the idea of moving the capital [from Buenos Aires] to Santiago del Estero. While a dramatic move might be appealing as a fresh start, it could end up aggravating the challenges of governing the country. Capitals, like flags, are symbols, but their choice has very real consequences."
Countries occasionally choose to move their capital cities to a region of the country where they want to promote growth. A new capital such as the one being considered in Argentina, would be called by geographers a forward capital. Although that term is not used in the article, it is one of the few examples of a forward capital being discussed a news article and it nicely discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of forward capitals and the impacts they can have of regional growth, regime stability and the political organization of space.