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 organized by the APHG curriculum, see http://geographyeducation.org/thematic/. Also you can search for a keyword by clicking on the filter tab (looks like a funnel) above in the upper-righthand corner.
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.
"This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is for people who know something about data analysis and want to learn about the special capabilities of spatial data analysis. Spatial analysis focuses on location to gain a deeper understanding of data. Spatial analysis skills are in high demand by organizations around the world. You'll get free access to the full analytical capabilities of ArcGIS Online, Esri's cloud-based GIS platform. Previous experience with GIS software is helpful, but not necessary for tech-savvy problem solvers. Could you and your career go places with spatial analysis?"
This course starts tomorrow...if you've wanted to learn about GIS with a no-risk on-ramp, this looks to be a safe bet from the worldwide leader in geospatial software. While a grad student at Penn State, I was a TA for a course designed by David DiBiase (the instructor of the MOOC), and I still refer back to that class as one of the best courses to teach geographic skills for the non-geography major.
"Ukraine is the quintessential borderland state. The country borders three former Soviet states and four countries in the European Union. Ukraine sits on the Northern European Plain, the area that has historically served as an invasion superhighway going east and west."
Corn is not what you think. For starters: Most of the time, it's not human food.
Land use practices that determine what is grown in a particular place are partly determined by the health needs of a local population, but they are more directly shaped by economic markets. Over 75% of the corn produced in the United States is destined for animal feed or fuel; since global population projections are now supposed to be 11 billion by 2100, these are some important issues for us to consider before we are forced to reassess our societal choices.
"An interactive map to explore history's greatest journeys, from Magellan to Kerouc."
This use-to-use interactive map let's users digitally walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest explorers ever. Some of the pivotal moments in history was when geographers sought out lands that were unknown to them.
Many advocates of local foods favor a small-scale approach to farming and are opposed to large-scale agribusiness. It might be easy for those disconnected from the food production system (like me) to romanticize and mythologize the farmers of yesteryear and yearn to return to this past. This talk highlights how essential large-scale farming is absolutely critical to feeding the global population; this other TED talk discusses many of the hunger problems especially the uneven access to food. Here are some other pro-agribusiness resources.
"A former gang member from Long Beach, California, teaches break dancing to at-risk youths in Cambodia."
"By 2050, the world's population will likely increase 35 percent. But is growing more food the only option—or even the best? National Geographic investigates the challenges and solutions to feeding everyone on our planet, based on an eight-month series in National Geographic magazine. Visit http://natgeofood.com for ongoing coverage of food issues as we investigate the Future of Food today on World Food Day."
How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
The recent Newsweek Cover showing a Chimpanzee for the article, Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola's Back Door to America, has received a lot of criticism for being factually inaccurate, but also for it's portrayal of Africa that taps into deep-rooted cultural anxieties about Africa in United States. Western writers have use many cultural conventions to talk about "the Dark Continent" stemming from a long colonial tradition. Africa had been developing rapidly in the last decade and how Ebola fares seems to be a referendum on the continent for many cultural commentators. This great Washington Post article is less about Ebola, but uses the outbreak to analyze how we think about Africa, and sometimes it isn't a pretty reflection. The Ebola outbreak is teaching us how we perceive Africa as much as it is about Africa itself.
This simple WebApp allows the user to compare areas that are hard to compare on a map or globe because of distance or the map projection. Competitive students love to hypothesize and then verify. This helps strengthen student's mental maps and their ability to make regional comparisons.
What would Earth be like if all humans suddenly disappeared? This question posed on the YouTube series Earth Unplugged, has many intriguing ecological and biogeographic ramifications that are worth considering to explore how systems are interconnected.
"Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.
Related Article: http://nyti.ms/gSvOkM"
The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal. Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era. While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.
"What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading."
What one invention has made the greatest difference in the lives of people all around the world? The case can be made for the washing machine; it has been a major tool in transforming the lives of women and restructuring gender roles in industrialized societies.
Which countries consume the most electricity per person? You might guess the United States would top the World Bank’s list, but the Nordic countries of Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden are actually at or near the top. Icelanders consume an average of 52,374 kilowatt hours per person per year, Norwegians 23,174 kilowatt hours, Finns 15,738 kilowatt hours, and Swedes 14,030 kilowatt hours. Americans are not far behind, with an average consumption of 13,246 kilowatt hours per person. The Japanese consume 7,848 kilowatt hours.
This image is part of a global composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite in 2012. The nighttime view of Earth was made possible by the “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, wildfires, and gas flares. The city lights of several major Nordic cities are visible in the imagery, including Stockholm, Sweden (population 905,184); Oslo, Norway (634,463); Helsinki, Finland (614,074), and Reykjavik, Iceland (121,490).
Why knowing where countries are in Africa matters for how the rest of the world thinks about Ebola.
Cultural and media norms that often refer to Africa as one entity rather than an 11.7 million-square-mile land mass comprised of 54 countries and over 1.1 billion people who speak over 2,000 different languages. This cultural confusion means that, when a dangerous virus like Ebola breaks out, Americans who are used to referring to “Africa” as one entity may make mistakes in understanding just how big of a threat Ebola actually is, who might have been exposed to it, and what the likelihood of an individual contracting it might be. This Ebola outbreak is wreaking havoc on African economies beyond the three most heavily affected by Ebola, and that damage is completely avoidable. The East and Southern African safari industry provides a good example. Bookings for safaris there — including for the famed Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania — have plummeted due to the Ebola outbreak. These actions are based in fear, not reality.
Geo-literacy is so critical; our level of geo-literacy shapes our framework for organizing global information. Currently, two or three countries face the very real risk of becoming failed states as Ebola ravages them; but painting with such a broad brush that Africa as all one region leads someone to think that all 54 African countries are equally at risk as if they all have the same geographic context.
"Dogtown and Z-Boys: A documentary about the pioneering 1970s Zephyr skating team."
Popular culture is shaped by taste-makers, counter-cultural movements, and the blending of cultural practices in new ways creating a distinct aesthetic. Often, the physical geography of a region plays a crucial role in shaping the cultural practices particular to their environment. All of that can be seen quite vividly in the colorful skating revolution of the 1970s that took shape in the Southern California. Kids who grew up idolizing surfers branched out their recreational habits into the modern form of skating that we see today at the X Games. Made legendary through a series of Skateboarder magazine articles, these kids shaped the cultural ethos of skateboarding for over a generation. With the coastal influence of surfing, the socioeconomics of a seaside slum, it’s abandoned piers, the ubiquity of cement and asphalt in the urban landscape, the run-down neighborhood of “Dogtown” was home to cultural movement. The fierce droughts of the 1970 meant abandoned swimming pools; that drought led surfers to the technological infrastructure for modern skating ramps and half pipes as they skated in emptied swimming pools. As stated in those Skaterboarder articles, “two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.” The documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” (trailer) and the fictionalized “Lords of Dogtown,” (trailer) both produced by skater turned filmmaker Stacy Peralta, chronicle the age (“Lords of Dogtown” is not appropriate for the K-12 classroom viewing).
"Don’t let my New York City–centric comparisons hinder your imagination. The interactive at the top of this page lets you visualize how different parts of the country compare in population density.
Click the button at the bottom of the interactive to select Los Angeles County, for instance, and then click anywhere on the map to generate a (roughly) circular region of (roughly) equal population. The population data come from the 2010 census, and the square mileage was calculated by summing each highlighted county’s total area. You can also use New Jersey (the most densely populated state), Wyoming (the least densely populated state outside of Alaska), Texas, the coasts (the group of all counties that come within 35 miles of either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans), and, yes, New York City as the baseline for your population comparison."
"The Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of the Earth's surface, and continues to deliver both visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our planet. This short video (download here) highlights Landsat's many benefits to society."
Be a part of the Tower of London’s major centenary commemoration for the outbreak of the First World War.
The news of this art installation this summer captivated the media. Art transforms the place, and the place breaths additional layers of meaning into the work of art. The result was an highly evocative and poignant landscape created to be a living reminder of multiple historical events and the wounds that war can inflict on a national consciousness.
"Those who owe their position to despotic leaders cling to their influence by keeping them operating – perhaps past death."
Kim Jong-un has not been seen for over five weeks now, even missing the 69th anniversary of the Worker's Party. The official governmental explanation is that he is healing, but everything coming out of Pyongyang is shrouded in mystery. Some think he may have died or that he has been overthrown or fled after an unsuccessful coup attempt. This might be a trick, but the longer he remains out of the public eye, the speculation will continue as to who is really in charge of North Korea's nuclear arsenal.
Earlier I shared a dynamic map of near-live wind data for the United States and a static rendering of global wind patterns. This combines the features of both of those resources to provide a mesmerizing digital globe. This visualization of global weather conditions is updated every three hours from supercomputer data projections. Click on the 'earth' text in the lower left-hand corner to customize the display. For examining the wind patterns and oceans currents, this is much more useful than Google Earth; this is definitely one of my favorite resources.
"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."
This is a good video to explain globalization (although this is my personal favorite), to see that it not just an economic force, but one that touches just about every facet of modern life.
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?