Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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Brazil's disappearing favelas

Brazil's disappearing favelas | Geography Education |

Infrastructure demanded by the sporting world's most powerful corporate interests render families homeless in Brazil.

Erica Tommarello's curator insight, October 2, 2013 12:52 PM

FIFA 2014 is being hosted in Brazil. This article details the completely flawed and inhumane plan that Brazil has to get ready for the madness of FIFA. They seem to be too caught up in artificial aesthetic and have lost focus on development, while displacing thousands of poor Brazilians on the way.

Investors Europe Stock Brokers's curator insight, July 15, 2014 3:21 AM

Welcome to Investors Europe Mauritius Stock Brokers ;

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 20, 2014 12:04 PM

With the world cup and summer Olympics being hosted in Brazil, the government are forcing people out of favelas to improve their image for tourists. What is frustrating about this is that bringing in a large sporting event like the Olympics and world cup actually looses money for the hosting country. So in their haste they are damaging the country twice over. First the government of Brazil is creating thousands of displaced and poor citizens, and on top of that they are spending valuable resources on preparing for a sporting event that will not turn a profit. What will happen after 2016, when you have a massive population of desperate homeless people migrating back to the favelas.

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In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup

In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup | Geography Education |
An unfinished skyscraper occupied by squatters is a symbol of Venezuela’s financial crisis in the 1990s, state control of the economy and a housing shortage.


This skyscraper that was once a symbol of wealth, in an incredible paradigm shift, has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. The video link "Squatters on the Skyline" embedded in the article is a must see.

Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 5:34 PM

The video we watched of the squatters living in an unfinished skyscraper was unlike anything I've ever seen before. In a country with such high population rates and a housing shortage, people have gotten creative and made homes in this 45 story building where they share what would have been office spaces and bathrooms.  Over 2,500 people have moved into the dilapidated skyscraper and made a home out of it for their families. They have rigged electricity that the government does not provide for them and built small stores on almost every floor.  The people have not been evicted because the government of Venezuela knows of the housing shortages, yet does not fix it.  

I feel ashamed that a country with so many oil resources has such high rates of poverty and no one is fixing it.  It shows the corruption in the government through an extreme although innovative example.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, February 17, 2014 10:46 AM

The problems in Venezuela with housing and the lack of response to the problem by the government has led people to become squatters.  The using of the abandoned buildings was a good idea by the original squatters.  The vacant buildings can house many of the countries it is a shame that the government did not think of this solution to the housing problem and vacant building first, if they had, they could have made sure they were safer for the residence.  The idea of a vertical city springing up in this building is also an interesting one.  Not only are squatters living in these buildings but creating businesses and other services for the residence.

Jess Deady's curator insight, February 18, 2014 1:02 PM

In life, I constantly find myself comparing situations with what I read and what I know. Imagine this skyscraper is the Prudential in Boston. How could something meant to be so great fall to its death (and to peoples literal deaths)? One day there is a massive financial building occupied with bankers and lavishness. The next day there is a skyscraper in the form of a house. Housing shortages are happening everywhere and Venezuela is being hit hard in this situation. Imagine visiting this country and asking where someone lives? "Oh, I live in the Tower of David, which used to mean a whole lot more."

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Giant outdoor escalator built in Colombian shantytown

What impact will this escalator have on this poor neighborhood?  Was this a wise use of funds?  If you had $7 million to invest in a shantytown with the goal of revitalizing the neighborhood and benefiting the lives of the residents, how would you spend these funds? 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 20, 2014 11:20 AM

This escalator seems like a waste of money. I understand that it will make life easier for the locals and possible cut down crime. But I feel with $7 million the government is choosing to attack the symptoms of living in the shantytown rather than treating the cause of inequalities. Perhaps they could have opened up local markets, started some sort of commercially viable industry, or help educate citizens that could provide the community members with a way to get out of poverty rather than.just making it easier to live in these shantytowns.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 7:09 PM

This is an interesting idea simply because of the discussion that can arise from it. Would the construction of this escalator actually benefit the people living within the slum to any foreseeable degree? On one hand some claim that yes it will have a positive impact as it could cut back on the number at attacks and muggings of those stopping to catch their breath as well as simply allowing them to conserve energy. While those on the other side of the issue say that the benefit the escalator my bring doesn't out weigh the cost of building it. Simply throwing money at a situation like this wont actually bring any relief. 

Kendra King's curator insight, February 8, 2015 4:40 PM

I sincerely believe that was a waste of money. Sure people can now get out of the area in “6 minutes” instead of “30 minutes” which, as was mentioned in class, can get people out of the area so as to get to jobs quicker. However what good does that really do in the grand scheme of things? Do the citizens still have poor jobs? Are their homes unsafe? Are there still sanitation issues? I am pretty sure the answer is yes, to all of the above. Clearly, these issues are more pressing than an escalator. So even if investing in an area can benefit a population, I think the improvement could have been greater because there are other more pressing needs of the area where the money could have been invested. 


I am actually surprised people were happy with the new addition. Given that it was a short clip, not all sides were seen. However, I feel that once people get over the novelty of the new toy and back to the reality of their everyday situation tensions could raise. Especially if the outdoor elevator breaks down, which is bound to happen given its exposure to mother nature, as the escalator just adds more of  a maintenance cost in a place that doesn't seem to have money. It wouldn't surprise me if people were later angered by the addition. In fact, I am actually surprised their wasn't protests that stopped the escalator from being built in the first place.  

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NPR: In The Hills Of Rio, Shantytowns Get A Makeover

Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, is trying to remake its hundreds of favelas.

Seth Dixon's insight:

There are urban geography applications obviously, but what about the cultural, political and economic logic of purging the slums before "the world comes to visit?"  We've seen this recently in Beijing and in other sites of international events.  Why now?  Why not before?  

Derek Ethier's comment, September 30, 2012 7:01 PM
Rio is clearly trying to clean up their slums so they do not embarrass themselves on a national stage. During events like the World Cup, all eyes are on the host nation so they do all they can to improve all aspects of their country. Unfortunately, Brazil cares little for their people and more for the money the World Cup will flood into their nation.
Paige McClatchy's curator insight, October 6, 2013 9:02 PM

The facelift that Rio de Janeiro is receiving in anticipation of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 is sapping up a large amount of Brazil's resources, resources that some lower class Brazilians argue should be allocated to improving roads or schools. The government led make-over reminds me of the upper-class driven gentrification of urban areas in places like NYC that were previously neighborhoods for lower-class residents. I don't think we will be able to understand the effects of this remodeling until after the Cup and the Olympics have come and gone. If Brazil keeps it up and continues to "improve" outlier areas, what will Brazil look like in 20 years?

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 11:21 AM

I find it sad that although Rio de Janiero obviously has a huge socioeconomic gap between the wealthy and the poor, it takes the prospect of the World Cup and Olympics for them to act. Furthermore their solution to cover up their slums is short sighted and they refuse to look at the deep seeded roots of the issue.

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TIME: 10 Fastest Growing Cities of Tomorrow

TIME: 10 Fastest Growing Cities of Tomorrow | Geography Education |

Many cities are large; the rate at which these ten cities highlight a distinct spatial pattern and separate them from the rest. Which regions have the fastest growing cities? Which regions don't? Why geographic factor account for the rapid growth?

CITY                Increase by 2025

1.  Delhi          6.4 million

2.  Dhaka       6.3 m

3.  Kinshasa  6.3 m

4.  Mumbai   5.8 m

5.  Karachi    5.6 m

6.  Lagos        5.2 m

7.  Kolkata     4.6 m

8.  Shanghai  3.4 m

9.  Manila      3.3 m

10. Lahore     3.2 m


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NYTimes: For Some of the World’s Poor, Hope Comes Via Design

NYTimes: For Some of the World’s Poor, Hope Comes Via Design | Geography Education |
“Design With the Other 90 Percent: Cities,” a show organized by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, shows how the problems of millions of the world’s poorest people are being addressed.


Last week was heavy on the #OWS movement (I was speaking at a forum on my campus, so it was most certainly on my mind).  On the flip side, what about the 1%?  Do any of their foundations and charitable donations seek to counterbalance poverty in some of the slums?  This is a timely reminder that while the system may be imbalanced, there are great people and fantastic projects all around the world bringing hope to communities, one person at a time.  

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PBS Video: "Raze the Roof-Cleveland Levels Vacant Homes to Revive Neighborhoods"

PBS Video: "Raze the Roof-Cleveland Levels Vacant Homes to Revive Neighborhoods" | Geography Education |
Business correspondent Paul Solman reports from Cleveland on the economically troubled Ohio city's efforts to tear down thousands of empty foreclosed homes in hopes of putting eyesore and dangerous properties back to productive use -- perhaps as...


Urban decay and the economic downturn has made demolition and destruction a more fiscally sound plan than revitalizing and refurbishing.  Why?  What economic advantage is to tearing down homes?  In what region(s) do you think this type of strategy makes the most sense? 

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NYTimes: In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find Skyrise

NYTimes: In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find Skyrise | Geography Education |
An unfinished skyscraper occupied by squatters is a symbol of Venezuela’s financial crisis in the 1990s, state control of the economy and a housing shortage.

Seth Dixon's insight:

 Incredible paradigm shift as a skyscraper is converted from a symbol of wealth to a building that is occupied by squatters.  The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside.  A complex web of geographic factors need to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation.  The video link "Squatters on the Skyline" embedded in the article is a must see.

Stacey Jackson's curator insight, February 22, 2013 12:35 AM
The fact that one resident featured in the video said she has "nothing to complain about" says a lot about the housing situation in Caracas. She didn't seem to think she deserved to live in a better environment- instead she accepts the unfinished skyscraper with rudimentary services and no sewage removal. It is a shame that Caracas hasn't been able to meet the housing demands of their growing population. I'm sure the issue is more complex, but it seems like this oil-rich nation should be able to build proper housing for its citizens. Also, 2,500 squatters is an astounding figure. Just to put it into perspective, my neighborhood (in Providence) has a total population of 2,669. I can't imagine all of us being crammed into one building without electricity, air conditioning, or proper plumbing.
Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 11, 2014 12:23 PM

Squatters occupy a building that was constructed to symbolize great wealth in Venezuela including a landing pad on the roof and floors to occupy office buildings. Due to a financial crisis, the building was never finished and squatters have taken advantage of this empty building. There is no windows, plumbing or an elevator to reach the higher levels of this skyscraper. Because of this, many safety issues have risen, including deaths. There is no other place for these squatters to live, it has become their home and they are temporarily making the best of it.

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Taming the City of God

Taming the City of God | Geography Education |
Years of hatred and mistrust are thawing in some of Rio's most violent slums.


Seth Dixon's insight:

This compelling video depicts some of the challenges that the police in Rio de Janeiro face in trying to bring more effective governance into some of the more poverty-stricken, drug-riddled neighborhoods in the city.  This slums, known as favelas, are receiving increased attention as Rio is hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

James Hobson's curator insight, September 30, 2014 9:08 AM

(South America topic 7)

The details pertaining to how Rio's police force has been regaining control in favelas surprised me, but in a positive way. For example, having officers work and volunteer with children is a great idea to stop the generation chain of fearing the police as the enemy. I believe the message that this communicates is that the police are human too, sharing many of the same aspirations as those who they serve. It's unfortunate that this ramping-up in force comes mainly because of the approaching Olympics, but at least it is still a step in the right direction.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 20, 2014 12:42 PM

This video shows the tense relationship between the favales and the government of Brazil. I can't help but notice how people in the favales are being treated as lesser citizens that are not part of the collective identity of Brazil. As these big sporting events draw near, the government is more concerned with hiding or eliminating the systemic inequalities that are occurring in the favales. If I lived in these areas I would find it hard not to see the government as an enemy.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 7, 2015 12:10 PM
I think that it is very good that tensions between the police and the citizens of the city are cooling down. Yes, there were many problems in the past, but that is the past, now there is just the present and future. With police being more active in the community responding to calls more frequently, or attending schools to show that not all of them are bad people. It is also good to know that an officer holds a martial arts program for the kids, something like that really gets people, especially the young to feel safe around them. Also, with schooling and environmental projects becoming much better, it seems as if the City of God is going in the correct path that it should.
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Civic Problems in Deindustrialized Urban America

Civic Problems in Deindustrialized Urban America | Geography Education |
The following is a post from David Schalliol, the Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the Illinois Institute of Technology.


This is photoessay focuses on urban decay in a deindustrializing cities in the United States.  The goal is not to strictly bemoan the urban blight and see these ares as 'victims of decline,' but to also acknowledge the community that has emerged despite the economic hardships. 

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Bridging the Digital Divide

This is an inspiring project that seeks to elevate poor slum-dwelling Indians by providing educational resources to children.  As free computer terminals are made available, their literacy skills soar and possibilities are widened.  Visit the projects homepage at: 

Seth Dixon's comment, November 29, 2011 5:50 PM
This is a fantastic program that I'm excited to hear for the disenfranchised is one of the best vehicles for positive social change.
Brett Sinica's curator insight, November 19, 2013 2:35 PM

As a child, most of us probably didn't particularly learn through technology or computers but through other hands on methods.  In these slums, getting school supplies which we are fortunate to have may not be so easy.  There are just so many people and living conditions make it harder for each child to be benefit equally.  That being said, these computers just might benefit the youth in the long run.  It might not be traditional, or even equal at times yet it is a type of improvisation that can probably be helpful.  In the video you could see the kids waiting in line, wanting to use the touchscreen, wanting to learn.  It is an abstract approach to education, but with the growth and diversity, it just might work effectively.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 16, 2014 8:15 AM

In the United States we take for granted the resources that are so easily accessed like computers. In this poor neighborhood in India, a computer was put in a wall and the children taught themselves how to use the computer. These slum kids don't have the tools needed to get out of poverty. Given them these computers may seem like a drop of water in the bucket but it is an important step.

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Decoding Bangkok’s Pocket-Urbanization: Social Housing Issues + Community Architects

Decoding Bangkok’s Pocket-Urbanization: Social Housing Issues + Community Architects | Geography Education |

This is modern cosmopolitan Bangkok, the second most expensive Southeast Asian city after Singapore.  Along with explosive city growth, the demand for urban housing has increased substantially. Due to a lack of sufficient and affordable housing, communities have settled into the cracks, eliciting a diagnosed social and institutional ‘pocket-urbanism’ that forms barriers of interaction among communities, and certainly between communities and authority figures...

Via Lauren Moss
Paige McClatchy's curator insight, December 14, 2013 5:45 PM

The poor of Bangkok have been settling their communities in the cracks of wealthier areas, creating a phenomenom of "pocket-urbanization." The artical talks about an emerging "ethical turn" in architecture. People will certainly enjoy their lives better when they are empowered in their own living situations, but also we have seen how poor infrastructure is a target for the worst of natural disasters. Rebuilding these areas would be good for many parties.

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Time: The 10 Biggest Megacities Today

Time: The 10 Biggest Megacities Today | Geography Education |

This article links the growing global population with the rise of megacities in the developing world.  


The largest megacities are:

 1.  Tokyo            32.5 million    

2.  Seoul             20.6 m

3.  Mexico City  20.5 m

4.  New York     19.8 m

5.  Mumbai        19.2 m

6.  Jakarta          18.9 m

7.  Sao Paulo      18.8 m

8.  Delhi              18.6 m

9.  Shanghai       16.7 m

10. Manila          16.3 m

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Displacing People to Make Space for Cars – Is India Evicting the Wrong Squatters?

Displacing People to Make Space for Cars – Is India Evicting the Wrong Squatters? | Geography Education |
More than 1 million of Delhi’s residents have been displaced through demolition of slum neighborhoods over the last 10 years. is a great source for information on urban geography, but this particular post was selected because it highlights two merging issues in today's megacities: the rise of automobile culture dictating urban planning policies as well as the dilemma surrounding squatter settlements around the globe. 

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Detroit: The 'Shrinking City' That Isn't Actually Shrinking

Detroit: The 'Shrinking City' That Isn't Actually Shrinking | Geography Education |
We're often told that Detroit has been abandoned—but the metro area is stable, and addressing sprawl is still a challenge...


Population size and physical size...not always as correlated as one might assume in this age of urban sprawl.  This details some of the difficulties in revitalizing abandoned sections of a city when the economic motive to expand outward is so easy. 

Wyatt Fratnz's curator insight, May 26, 2015 8:59 PM

This article investigates the possibilities of the progression of the city of Detroit, despite all the negative connotations. They show us the math behind it's decreasing populations along with it's past expansion, what's behind it and the urban sprawl of it all.

This is a great real-world example of uneven development, zones of abandonment, disamenity, and gentrification. It goes to show how all of these factors afflict with the city as a whole.