Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Forget Midwest. We Are North: Repositioning Minnesota's National Identity for the 21st Century

Forget Midwest. We Are North: Repositioning Minnesota's National Identity for the 21st Century | Geography Education |

“The Midwest is this big nebulous part of the country and it's kind of what's left over after all the other regions of the country are defined. Those regions have much stronger identities if you think of the East Coast or maybe New England or the Pacific Northwest or certainly the South. The Midwest is kind of the catchall for what's left.  We [Minnesota] should be called the North.”

Seth Dixon's insight:

Whether I agree or not with the ideas being discussed, I simply love that this discussion is taking place and how intensely geographical the ideas and evidences being brought forward are.  

Questions to Ponder: So what region do you live in?  What defines that region?  Are there other regions that you can claim to be a part of also?  How would you divide the United States into various regions?  How come?

Tagsplaceregions, culture

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Geography of Europe Games

Geography of Europe Games | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

Toporopa is compilation of different games and app for secondary students to review their geographic knowledge of geography, and learn new concepts in a fun and entertaining way.  It does reinforce the 'encyclopedic' view of geography education, but the games are well-crafted and available in most of the major languages of the European Union.  See a Spanish-language review of the site here.   

Tags: Europe, regions, trivia, games.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, February 18, 2015 5:49 PM

An absolutely great and fun way to learn and explore different geographic locations.  Anytime learning can be made fun or turned into a game is always a win-win.  I found myself screwing around with these mini games and before I knew it, 45 minutes had passed, and I was not as good at Geography as I thought I was.  I will be back to play/learn more!

Lena Minassian's curator insight, February 18, 2015 6:59 PM

This is an interesting way to learn geography in a more interactive way. This link provides many different games that allow you to not only play a game but learn while you do it! These games can test capitals, rivers, monarchies, countries, regions, peninsulas, battles, etc. All of these relate to Europe and can provide different learning techniques for anyone who is interested in them.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 12:05 PM

This Toporopa is a great interaction games for people who are interested in geography. Europe has a rich history dates back to colonial times and there are many interesting facts that a lot of people does not know about it. It is fun and entertaining way to train your brain and a great review to see what you know about the world.

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How was the AIDS epidemic reversed?

How was the AIDS epidemic reversed? | Geography Education |

"If ever there was a demonstration of the power of science, it is the course of the fight billed 'Mankind v AIDS'. Until 1981 the disease (though already established in parts of Africa) was unknown to science. Within a decade it passed from being seen as primarily a threat to gay men, and then to promiscuous heterosexuals, to being a plague that might do to some parts of Africa what the Black Death did to medieval Europe. But now, though 1.6m people a year still die of it, that number is on a downward trajectory­, and AIDS rarely makes the headlines any more. How was this achieved?  The answer has two parts: sound science and international co-operation."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The Ebola epidemic has dominated headlines recently.  In their haste, it has been lost on that media the scary medical story of the 20th century (AIDS) that was going to doom Africa is now a success story.  Some of the stories about Ebola have treated Africa as one monolithic place--Africa is not a single story.  

Tagsmedical, diffusion, Africa, regions, perspective.

Raymond Dolloff's curator insight, December 15, 2015 12:07 AM

Over the last quarter century, the medical technology has ever so changed. Simple tests and modernized medications can help slow the progress of the HIV infection. The tests can tell if someone has advanced AIDS or early stages of the HIV virus itself. However, over the last year and a half, the epidemic has been placed on the back burner with the Ebola epidemic that has and still occurring. The fact that Ebola spread as rapidly as it did, shows that any virus or disease can spread extremely quick if someone comes in contact with bodily fluids of another human and can be contracted pretty quickly.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:10 PM

this is a media issue all over the world. focusing on one part of a story and not revealing the rest. people can focus on how bad things are or they can focus on the advancements and how much better things are than how they were and how they continue to get better, especially in regards to medical care in africa. their level of care is still just awful but is obviously steadily improving. especially in south africa.

Brett Laskowitz's curator insight, October 17, 2016 1:55 PM
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Let’s Talk About Geography and Ebola

Let’s Talk About Geography and Ebola | Geography Education |
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.

Tags: Ebola, medical, diffusion, Africa, regions, perspective.

Seth Dixon's insight:

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.  

Lora Tortolani's curator insight, March 18, 2015 9:36 PM

It doesn't surprise me that the average person doesn't know his geography.  It shocks the hell out of me that a college would put themselves in a situation to look that stupid!  Do your research people.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 29, 2015 5:08 PM

This is another example of stereotyping taking its course through Africa.  Even though I am aware of the size and diversity of Africa, I was guilty of associating Ebola with the whole continent and not just the affected areas.  Same thing goes with the AIDS virus and other things, such as poverty.  Articles are great for people in other parts of the world to read to better educate them on the size and diversity of Africa and that there are many different ways of life in its 54 countries.

Raymond Dolloff's curator insight, December 15, 2015 12:44 AM

The Ebola epidemic over the last year put everyone in the world on high alert, not just those who lived in Sierra Leone and many countries in West Africa. It is important to understand how the virus spread so quickly and the advancements made to treat the virus. Geography played a big part of the spread of the virus. Because Africa, and the countries are far from modern medical technology, many non-profit organizations like Doctors without Borders were dispatched to those affected areas to help show and train physicians there the proper techniques on how to treat infected people with Ebola. That's why on the map one can see a far range of countries who treated infected people in facilities that were built to handle cases of Ebola.

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Media and Culture--Perspective and Bias

"Religious scholar Reza Aslan took some serious issue on CNN Monday night with Bill Maher‘s commentary about Islamic violence and oppression. Maher ended his show last Friday by going after liberals for being silent about the violence and oppression that goes on in Muslim nations. Aslan said on CNN that Maher’s arguments are just very unsophisticated.  He said these 'facile arguments' might sound good, but not all Muslim nations are the same. Aslan explained that female mutilation is an African problem, not a Muslim one, and there are Muslim-majority nations where women are treated better and there are even female leaders."

Seth Dixon's insight:

There are far too many oversimplifications when people throw around the terms "Muslim-majority countries" and this video shows that a more nuanced understanding is needed.  That being said, it would be naive to pretend as though Islam today were without some structural problems.  As stated in the linked article, "In 2013, of the top 10 groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks, seven were Muslim. Of the top 10 countries where terrorist attacks took place, seven were Muslim-majority.  Of the 24 most restrictive countries (according to Pew Research), 19 are Muslim-majority. Of the 21 countries that have laws against apostasy, all have Muslim majorities."

Question to Ponder: How does the media play a role in shaping the conversations we have in society about different cultures and places?  How can 'painting with a broad brush' lead to stereotypes and inaccurate conclusions?  

Tagsplaceregions, culture religion, Middle East, media.

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, October 22, 2015 1:21 PM

Last semester i took a anthropology class on the middle east. The class was one of the biggest eye openers for me, When we started the class the professor asked all the students to right down the words that came to mind when they thought of the middle east. Their words were hurtful and mean, and our professor born and raised and turkey was not surprised. The media in America portrays the "Middle East" as this evil desert full of terrorist, disease, poverty, and oppressed women. It is painted with a very broad brush, and gullible America eats it up. It is also a huge injustice because the Middle East covers many countries and they are very diverse. There is many languages, religions, lifestyles, they range greatly. Not every country is " Bad" in fact none of them are, they are just under bad times. I also feel very sorry for the natives of these lands, the peaceful people that are just trying to survive and live. They are beautiful people and i loved studying about them and i always felt a little guilty for associating them with the groups performing heinous acts against their people. What i realized is that often the most vulnerable people, the ones who need us the most are the ones who get forgotten about and the media is part to blame for that.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 23, 2015 5:58 AM

The media plays a substantial role in enhancing stereotypes about Muslims. In order to simplify an issue, the media often lumps groups of people together and identifies them as sharing one set of beliefs. In a constant twenty four hour news environment ,nuance is often sacrificed for a quick ratings driven story. The media is often appealing to the lowest common denominator. The media should make a better effort to explain the differences between each Muslim nation. The Middle East is a complex area, and it deserves complex coverage.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 7:33 PM

yes, some Muslim countries have been lead by women. how many woman governors have there been. Texas is the size of Iraq. scale matters, and if all Muslim countries were merged they would never elect a woman as their leader, if one even ran and survived. the us has at least let them run.

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Why Democrats Can’t Win the House

Why Democrats Can’t Win the House | Geography Education |
Thanks to demographics, the Republicans have a virtual stranglehold on the House of Representatives.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The first reaction might be to blame partisan redistricting (a.k.a. gerrymandering) for the the political gridlock between the presidential results and House of Representatives.  Gerrymandering does play a role, but the spatial concentrations and distributions of voting constituencies explain why the Democrats have recently won the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, but can't control the House of Representatives.  Metro areas are highly left-leaning, currently creating a national majority for Democrats, but that high concentration is a drawback when trying to win a majority of the seats in the House.  This is a good article as a primer for electoral geography.  

Tags: political, regions, spatial, unit 4 political.

Nancy Watson's curator insight, September 14, 2014 11:39 AM

Demographics and political geography affect elections.

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Do you know Africa?

Do you know Africa? | Geography Education |

Many of Africa’s leaders will be in town next week attending a White House summit. The continent’s land is shared among 49 countries — many of which rarely make U.S. headlines. How familiar are you with Africa’s geography?

Seth Dixon's insight:

This online quiz tests your ability to locate African countries on the map--a basic skill that isn't 'doing geography' (an age-old lament among geography educators).  Still, it is hard to have an intelligent discussion about the continent if you can't name or locate any places other than Egypt and South Africa.  For some of my favorite online map quiz resources, click here.


Jason Schneider's curator insight, March 9, 2015 3:41 PM

This is easier because it shows you the shape of the countries. As for this quiz, I can locate any African country but some of them, not precisely. I'm able to locate Ethiopia, Libya and Angola obviously because they're bigger but not Togo, Eritrea and Rwanda. However, I can closely locate the smaller countries but not precisely.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 29, 2015 5:21 PM

I love interactive maps like this.  These are the best way to learn where things are in the world geographically.  Africa is the toughest, for myself, continent in the world to be able to locate and identify where certain countries are.  This is in part because Africa has so many countries and also Africa is a part of the world that is not often taught in school, therefore you have limited thoughts and ideas about these types of areas.

David Lizotte's curator insight, April 22, 2015 1:54 PM

I have always been fascinated with Africa and its history. Through its history one can understand why Africa is the way it is today. Its a shame that Africa does not have more of a focus in the Public School Curriculum. Its played a huge part in developing western civilization, whether it be in ancient Alexandria providing grain for the Roman Republic or the coltan extracted through inhumane means in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Africa is a continent that has been raped and torn in a repetitive manor under a variety of foul experiences brought upon by western countries. These are the same western countries that are held of high interest and regards in subject manor instituted in the Public School System. Africa has also been apart of amazing developments of human civilization, for example the Trans Saharan Trade Route which linked Kingdoms such as Ancient Ghana to dynasties far in the Middle East. It is also the birthplace of man (no big deal). In either case there needs to be a stronger push on teaching/molding "Africa" (yes, I know... broad) into the curriculum. It is important in both understanding the history of the world, specifically western civilization and how it coined itself  “civilized.” Through introducing basic aspects, history, and dilemmas (both old and modern) it could inspire more interest and an expansion of knowledge from student to student. School is and will most likely continue to be Euro-centric and have large flares of Americana and other “themes” of North America. 

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Defining 'the South'

Defining 'the South' | Geography Education |

"The Southerners were considerably more certain of which states are their own. While the top few Midwest states barely pulled 80 percent of the vote, nearly 90 percent of respondents identified Georgia and Alabama as Southern, and more than 80 percent placed Mississippi and Louisiana in the South. South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina all garnered above 60 percent."

Seth Dixon's insight:

I enjoy activities that challenge students to map out vernacular regions since it forces them to establish some criteria and consider the attributes of particular places.  So what does your 'South' look like? 

Tags: mapping, the South, regions.

Wilmine Merlain's curator insight, November 1, 2014 10:40 PM

When I think of states that constitute as being a part of southern United States, I think of VA, NC, SC, GA, MS, AL, LA, TX, and FL. I never thought of KY as being a state a part of the south. Although its geographical location demonstrate it being relatively close to being in the south, I always thought of KY being a Midwest because of the weather similarities with states that are located in the Midwest.

Miles Gibson's curator insight, November 22, 2014 8:08 PM

Unit 1 nature and perspective of geography 

This map is a map of the p.o.v. of a surveyed group stating what they think the south is. They answered with suprising accuracy overall with some outliers. This map shows the stereotypes of the area that people deem it.

This relates to unit 1 because it shows a perceptual map of an area that isn't truly defined. This is a perceptual map because of its undefined borders and a level of accuracy at the personal level.


Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 4, 2015 9:37 PM
As someone who had a summer home in Orlando, Florida, and having friends and family there too, we would occasionally have the discussion what we considered the South. For myself, I always had the idea that the south was from North Carolina to Florida and from Florida as far west as Texas. As for the deep south, I would consider Alabama, Georgia and Florida to be the deep south. I have a friend currently stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and he considers NC and anything under to be the South.
Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks!

The Geography of Small Talk

The Geography of Small Talk | Geography Education |
Surprising alternatives to "so what do you do?"—from New Orleans to New York.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The types of questions that you ask when you are meeting someone new for the first time has some regional variations but there is much more to the geography of small talk than that as see in this 4 minute video.  People want to understand your cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic context by asking spatial questions about where you are from.  Identity and place are tightly woven and these neighborhood questions are almost invitations to share much more personal information, as if to ask, "how do you fit in this world?"  When you are being introduced to someone, what are the questions that you ask, and what type of information are you hoping to get?  Each person has their own little geography that has profoundly shaped who they are---so what’s your story? 

Tags: language, regions, folk cultures, communityplace, neighborhood.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, April 24, 2014 9:43 AM

unit 2-3

Mr Steven Newman's curator insight, April 24, 2014 2:33 PM
Love this scoop from Seth Dixon. A nice way to help kids understand sense of place .
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Human Development Index variation

Human Development Index variation | Geography Education |

"Here's how the United States looks when it is measured on the county level by the same standards used to rank countries by the UN, the Human Development Index.  Five variables are taken into account: life expectancy, income per capita, school enrollment, percentage of high school graduates, and percentage of college graduates." 

Seth Dixon's insight:

Often we treat countries as solid areas and miss many regional patterns; in part because we view global data sets that are at that scale. 

Questions to ponder: what regional patterns do you see?  What accounts for these patterns?  What do you think other countries would look like with data at this scale?    

Tagsmapping, regions, censusdevelopment, USA.

s smith's curator insight, March 26, 2014 3:53 PM

A fantastic resource for development studies.

Ms. Harrington's curator insight, March 26, 2014 6:57 PM

Regional patterns?

Brian Altonen's curator insight, March 26, 2014 9:18 PM

A WHO map of what life in the U.S. is like demonstrates the role of urbanization and heavily population regions for defining where U.N.'s Human Development Index scores are highest.

Three of the metrics pertain primarily to education.  The fourth is a measure of financial success for a region.  The fifth is most likely a consequence of scoring well for these first four measures.

An obvious next step in making additional use of this map is to compare its findings with the distributions of various language, culture and ethnic groups in this country, according to most recent US Census patterns.  



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Online Quizzes for Regional Geography

Online Quizzes for Regional Geography | Geography Education |

"For Regional Geography, I ask that all my students take an online quizzes before coming to class because it is very difficult to intelligently discuss European issues if you don’t know the countries of Europe, where they are and what other countries are on their borders.  Quizzes and knowing places doesn’t define geography, but if geography were English literature, knowing about places could be described as the alphabet–before you write a sonnet or critique an essay, you better know your ABC’s and basic grammar.  Given that, I like the Lizard Point Geography quizzes, Sheppard Software quizzes and those from Click that ‘Hood; they are simple, straightforward and comprehensive."

Seth Dixon's insight:

During the course of the semester in World Regional Geography, I have my students complete all of the following quizzes (and 9 more for a total of 20 quizzes):

Tags: regions, trivia, games.

Mirta Liliana Filgueira's curator insight, February 2, 2014 6:52 PM

Exámenes en línea para Geografía.

SFDSLibrary's curator insight, May 13, 2014 8:16 AM

Quizzes to test a students knowledge of places and countries.

Melissa Marie Falco-Dargitz's curator insight, September 22, 2014 12:20 PM

I hope the lizard point Geography tests are enough. I have sent you my screenshots for the ones I have taken.


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Eastern and Western Europe divided over gay marriage, homosexuality

Eastern and Western Europe divided over gay marriage, homosexuality | Geography Education |
Recent developments in Croatia and Scotland highlight a stark divide between Eastern and Western Europe on the topic of same-sex marriage.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Regions are fluid constructs that we use to think about places.  The region that we think of today as "Latin America" would not have been a discrete region 600 years ago since historical events have shaped the geographic evolution of the attributes of the region and the borders of world regions will continue to be redrawn.  Some have recently argued that since the end of the Cold War, the monikers Eastern and Western Europe are less meaningful in an economic context.   This map shows this old division can still be seen in this cultural/political context.  Some have argued that Russia's recent move against gay rights is a geopolitical strategy to differentiate themselves from the West. 

TagsEurope, regions.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 16, 2014 6:14 PM

Of course everyone has their different views on gay marriage. It is always a topic that gets a lot of discussion and debate. This map highlights a divide between Eastern and Western Europe on the issue of same-sex marriage. In Western Europe, many nations have made same-sex marriage legal. However, other nations are opposing to such actions. According to this map, the darkest blue represents the highest percentage of people in each country who agree with same-sex marriage. As the shades of blue get lighter, this represents less and less people who believe in same-sex marriage. According to a survey taken in May of 2013, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands were in strong agreement for gay marriage. Relatively few people in Poland and Hungary were supportive of same-sex marriage. The cross-continental divide has led to talk about whether the Netherlands might grant asylum to gay and lesbian Russians seeking to escape that country’s anti-homosexual “propaganda” law. This was a measure passed this past June by a 436-0 vote in the Russian parliament.

Jason Schneider's curator insight, February 12, 2015 6:19 PM

It makes sense that the western side of Europe agree that homosexuals should have their rights because I believe that since most of the eastern part the United States passed the laws of same-sex marriage, it was able to spread overseas directly towards Europe. However, homosexual rights agreement have yet to spread throughout the eastern side of Europe. According to, 85% of Russia's population are against homosexuality. So with that being said, homosexuality freedom is agreed mostly in the United States/Atlantic Ocean/Western Europe range.

Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 9:55 AM

This map shows the different degrees of acceptance of homosexuality among European countries. Just by looking at the map, you can see that there is a clear divide between Western and Eastern European thoughts on homosexuality. Western European countries seem to be much more accepting and tolerant of homosexuality than their Eastern counterparts. 


This speaks to two major factors that divide Europe in general: religion and politics. Many of the countries that have low tolerance for homosexuality are former parts of the USSR. Having been formerly aligned with the strict and intolerant ideologies of Communism, it is not surprising that these countries would not accept homosexuality or support gay marriage. Though the West is certainly not a paragon of tolerance itself, it can at least be seen as more tolerant relative to the former Soviet Socialist Republics. Therefore, it is not a stretch to imagine that they may be more accepting of homosexuality than those former members of the USSR. Eastern Europe is also an area largely dominated by Orthodox Christianity, a stricter form of Christianity than what one would find in the Protestant denominations of the West. Some Western European countries also have large atheist populations. This is not to say that atheists are automatically more accepting, but to assume some correlation between tolerance and a rejection of moral governance by religion would not be unreasonable. So though this map shows only how different countries stand on the acceptance of homosexuality, it can also be used to show the religious and political divides that exist within Europe. 



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All-American singer wows Arabs Got Talent with Umm Kulthum cover

All-American singer wows Arabs Got Talent with Umm Kulthum cover | Geography Education |
Boston-born Jennifer Grout has amazed Middle Eastern viewers, reaching the Arabs Got Talent final despite speaking little Arabic

Born and raised in Boston, Grout's Arabic accent has inspired debates about whether she is merely pretending to be a westerner. Her fellow contestants are from different parts of the Middle East, and include Mayam Mahmoud, 18, billed as Egypt's first hijab-wearing rapper.

Seth Dixon's insight:

TV shows have regionalized networks, but sometimes the audience wants something beyond their local borders and that pushes the limits of what many think that audience might want or even redefine the audience itself.  Hijab-wearing rappers and blond-haired, blue-eyed girls from Boston singing in Arabic (watch here) certainly blur the distinction between what we think is Middle Eastern and what think of as American.  Globalization is increasing erasing those cultural lines.

Tony Aguilar's curator insight, December 1, 2013 3:43 AM

televised events like this can help us see how integrated certain regions have become. One would never think to see a New England girl on an Arabs Got Talent show, but now ethnic diversity is become more prevalent opening up our minds to what we should be expecting worldwide in terms of cultural representation, and ethnic representation. Also the idea of female rappers in Muslim areas demonstrates how women are stepping up defying cultural norms and playing roles that have been traditionally expected for men.

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Power of Place: Boundaries and Borderlands

Power of Place: Boundaries and Borderlands | Geography Education |

"This program, Boundaries and Borderlands, introduces the case study approach of the course. Here we examine the borderland region between the regions of North America and Latin America. The first case study, Twin Cities, Divided Lives, follows the story of Concha Martinez as she crosses between the U.S. and Mexico in order to make a life for herself and her children.  The second case study, Operation Hold the Line, follows up the question of cross-border migration raised in the first program. It takes a look at how U.S. border policy is shaping the lives of not only the people living in this borderland region, but in more distant U.S. and Mexican locations as well."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a not a new resource and I know that many of you are familiar with it, but this is worth repeating for those not familiar with the Annenberg Media's "Power of Place" video series.  With 26 videos (roughly 30 minutes each) that are regionally organized, this be a great resource for geography teachers that need either a regional of thematic case-study video clip.     

Tagsmigrationregions video, APHG.

Dennis Swender's curator insight, November 17, 2014 3:16 AM

Open borders:  An American Exceptionalism asset worth preserving?

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State Borders Were Drawn in the Distant Past. Is It Time to Reimagine Our Map?

State Borders Were Drawn in the Distant Past. Is It Time to Reimagine Our Map? | Geography Education |

"Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers.  Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers."

Tags: cartography, mapping, visualizationregions, gerrymandering, political, mapping, census, density.

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The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place

The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place | Geography Education |
How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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.


Tags: Ebola, Africacolonialism, regions, perspective.

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, April 9, 2015 2:21 PM

Before I even read the article, my first thought went to the Linneaus classification.  That really damaged history with this one chart.  I think people still think of Africans and blacks(very dark blacks) as dirty or unintelligent.  Which is horrible and couldn't be further from the truth.  Misinforming the public is criminal.  News media and social media need to be careful and educate properly.  I've been asked from a customs offical, "Have you been to Africa in the past 6 months?"  Which is a very blanket question because Africa is a continent.  There were areas that were not hit with Ebola.  

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 27, 2015 4:37 PM

Those who deny the continued influence of racism in our society are blinding themselves to the truth. Contemporary influences of the racism that plagued the preceding centuries are still found in most major media depictions of Africa. The Ebola epidemic has served to highlight the bigotry that plagues Western media, as the assumption that all of Africa is diseased and dirty is continuously perpetuated (when, in reality, Ebola only affected a very small part of the continent). Africa is presented as "other," a backwards continent that is in desperate need of Western help and guidance- in what was is that different from the European colonizers who also viewed their actions as benevolent attempts to "civilize" the uncivilized? That mindset has not left Western circles, and yet we continue to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for suddenly being so tolerant. The insensitivity of Western audiences to the concerns of black individuals both at home and in Africa related to the prevalence of racism highlights how determined mainstream media is to deny the existence of a problem. Until we recognize the Eurocentrism that continues to plague our media and make the necessary moves to correct the practice, harmful depictions of Africa will continue to loom large in Western media and in the opinions of many Europeans and Americans alike.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:12 AM

Africa has long been treated by the western media as a dark , brutish, uncivilized place. Africa is a place were people starve and murder each other in large numbers. There is so much more to Africa than the picture I just described. The problem is, many people just do not accept the existence of a culturally complex Africa. That narrative would destroy the traditional  darker narrative of the past 500 years. A narrative grounded in the beliefs that blacks are inherently inferior beings. During the Ebola crises, the calls to cut off travel to Africa were quick and demanding. Had the crises been in England, would those same calls have been so loud? I think we all can guess the answer  to that question. Much progress has been made, but we still need to change our cultural depiction of Africa.

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More than half of all Americans live in states where same-sex marriage is legal

More than half of all Americans live in states where same-sex marriage is legal | Geography Education |

"More than 168 million Americans now live in states where marriage for same-sex couples is legal following the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to not hear five states’ appeals.  That number represents about 53.17 percent of the U.S. population, according to data from the Census Bureau and visualized on the map above."

Tags: sexuality, USA. regions, mappolitical.

Seth Dixon's insight:

UPDATE: As of November 20, 2014 this is now the new map of same-sex marriage in the United States.  Notice that all the states that oppose same-sex marriage are part of one single, territorially contiguous block of states.  How come that is the spatial pattern for this issue?    

Julia Keenan's curator insight, October 7, 2014 7:57 PM

Shows states that allow same sex marriage or have laws for or against them

Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, October 14, 2014 4:29 AM

Concept of Human Rights in USA

Suggested by Thomas Schmeling!

Which States Are in the Midwest?

Which States Are in the Midwest? | Geography Education |
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...
Seth Dixon's insight:

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. 


Tags: USA. regionsmapping.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, January 28, 2015 9:08 PM

I've gotten into this argument a couple times, the one that sticks out in my mind is one I had with a Rhode Island transplant from Illinois. Being a living historian of the American War for Independence, some of those 18th century ideas leak into my 21st century life. Those transplants, also living historians, were shocked to hear that I claimed anything West of the Appalachians was the "frontier" and therefore, anything above Kentucky and West of Nebraska was the "Midwest". We had a slight friendly exchange of words about what the Midwest is and where it really is. These regional borders Americans have created not only rely on topography, but also with vernacular and culture on a regional level. A state one day could be considered part of the Midwest but a few decades later could be part of Northeast, the South, or any of the other regions.

Evan Margiotta's curator insight, March 18, 2015 12:03 PM

The map above shows the results of a survey that asked people if they thought their state was considered part of the Midwest or not. The highest percentage of responses of yes came from Illinoise at 81%. The lowest percentage of responses of yes came from Wyoming at 10%.This survey is a perfect example of how cultural factors influence how people see themselves spatially. Its a very interesting concept. Perceptual regions are hard to define by formal regions. It would have been interesting if this survey had shown where the responses were spatially in their state. 

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 4, 2015 9:31 PM
In my opinion, I believe that the Midwest is considered to be from North Dakota down to Kansas and from west to east, Nebraska to illinois. To me, the core of the Midwest would be Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. I have come to this conclusion based on how my grandfather used to tell me about the US. My grandfather was a contractor for a major corporation and traveled to all 48 contiguous states and whenever he was working in states such as Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, etc, he would tell me that he was in the midwest.
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Topography of Religion

Topography of Religion | Geography Education |

"The Pew survey sorts people into major groupings--Christians; other religions, including Jewish and Muslim; and 'unaffiliated,' which includes atheist, agnostic and 'nothing in particular.'  Roll your cursor over the map to see how faiths and traditions break down by state."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a particularly useful interactive map with a lot of teaching applications.  It is a nice visual aid to process the religious data in the United States.  

Questions to Ponder: What patterns do you notice?  Are there religious regions that could be drawn based on this data?   What geographic factors have created the differences in the religious geographies of the United States?

Tags: culturereligion, Christianity, USA. regions, diffusion, mapping.

Ignacio Quintana's curator insight, December 1, 2014 6:56 PM

Even though this is just an info-graphic, this is very interesting. What we can see from this map is the spatial organization of religion specifically in the U.S. It's interesting to see how protestant makes up the majority (but apparently not according to the article above this from Haak's page) and how drastically these views can change from coast to coast, and state to state. What I find particularly interesting is that you can clearly find hearths of many of these religions, for example, Utah has an extremely out-numbering amount of Mormons. For obvious reasons that is, but still very educational to see the centers of many of the big religions in the United States.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, January 28, 2015 8:46 PM

Looking at the map, it looks like the Northeast is predominately Catholic while the further South you go along the Eastern coast, you find more Protestants, mostly Evangelical, especially in the from Confederate States. The Mid and Northwest seems to hold a healthy mix of all the Christian denominations while places in the Southwest have a higher Catholic percentage, my guess would be from immigration from Mexico. The one odd ball out in the Southwest is Utah with its 58% of Mormons.

Molly McComb's curator insight, March 21, 2015 4:04 PM

Different cultural religions and senses of place in America. This graph shows the diversity of religion around the united states as it varies from place to place. 

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The Geography of Language

"Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This TED-ED lesson is a quick primer into the geographic context of linguistic change and variability that we find all around the world. 

Tags: language, TED, regions, folk cultures, toponyms, historical, culturediffusion.

Woodstock School's curator insight, June 4, 2014 6:05 AM

A good teaching tool for explaining the diversity of languages.

Adilson Camacho's curator insight, June 12, 2014 9:38 PM

Geografia Cultural

Chris Plummer's curator insight, January 11, 2015 11:46 PM

Summary- This video explains how so many languages came to be and why. By the early existence of human there was a such smaller variety of languages. Tribes that spoke one language would often split in search of new recourses. Searching tribe would develop in many new different ways than the original tribe. new foods, land, and other elements created a radically different language than the original. 


Insight- In unit 3 we study language as a big element of out chapter. One key question in chapter 6 was why are languages distributed the way they are. It is obvious from the video that languages are distributed they way they are is because of the breaking up from people which forced people to develop differently thus creating a different language. As this process continues, there become more and more branches of a language family.  

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A Map of Baseball Nation

A Map of Baseball Nation | Geography Education |

"Fans may not list which team they favor on the census, but millions of them do make their preferences public on Facebook. Using aggregated data provided by the company, we were able to create an unprecedented look at the geography of baseball fandom, going down not only to the county level, as Facebook did in a nationwide map it released a few weeks ago, but also to ZIP codes."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This isn't just a fun sports map--there are some good geographic concepts that can be used here.  When discussing cultural regions, many use the core-domain-sphere model.  This map uses the brightest color intensities to represent the core regions and the lightest hues to show waning strength, but to still signify that the area is a part of a team's sphere of influence.  Essentially, this map is begging you to explore the borderlands, the liminal "in-between" spaces that aren't as easy to explain.  What other phenomena can be used to demonstrate the core-domain-sphere model of cultural regions?  What other geographic concepts can you teach using this map?  

Tags: fun, sport, placeborders, statistics, mapping, regions.

Greg Russak's curator insight, April 29, 2014 12:53 PM

Maps and baseball - a good combination!

Wyatt Wolf's curator insight, October 30, 2014 7:46 PM

My favorite baseball team is the Philadelphia Phillies, here's everyone else's.

Global Speechwriter's comment, November 4, 2014 2:52 AM
Jays? C'mon.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Culture Ministry Affirms 'Russia is not Europe'

Culture Ministry Affirms 'Russia is not Europe' | Geography Education |

"A state commission working on a much-discussed report titled 'Foundations of State Cultural Politics' will release their findings in two weeks, presidential advisor Vladimir Tolstoi announced last week, adding that the basic formula of the report could be summarized as 'Russia is not Europe.'"

Seth Dixon's insight:

At times Russia has sought to be perceived as a part of Europe only to be excluded in the minds (and institutions) of Western Europe.  Now, in a discursive way to protect itself, it is reaffirming and building a cultural buffer zone between Europe and Russia.  What are the borders of Europe as you think of it?  Can world regions change over time?  Any examples of regions having their borders redrawn?  

Tags: RussiaEurope, regions.

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 7, 2015 3:06 PM

I wasn't even really aware that Russia had ever wanted to seem like part of Europe, or that people saw it as part of Europe.  I've always seen Russia as it's own place, because it is.  It is not in Europe, it just borders Europe.  I understand how there is a misconception because most people don't see it as part of Asia either, because it seems much different than other countries in Asia.  However, it should be recognized as it's own place, and not as part of Europe.

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 5, 2015 3:32 PM

Russia has long since been Europe's backwards, awkward cousin. On the outskirts of the continent, Russia has always been different in every sense of the world. Their religion is different, their culture is a unique blend of East and West; a history of intense poverty of its lower classes, followed by the Communist revolution and the alienation of Russia as a whole, has helped to perpetuate this idea of backwardness associated with the country. The Cold War and the Eastern bloc has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Western powers, and Russia has continued to be culturally ostracized despite major economic progress in the nation and increased political and economic ties between the nation and the rest of Europe. Although Russia has fought hard to be considered a part of Europe, to many Europeans, it will always remain "other." Russia has done little to help its case as of late, considering its actions in the Crimea and the incitement of conflict in much of Eastern Ukraine. For the sake of the Russian people, I hope their situation improves for the better.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 10, 2015 6:44 AM

For the past few centuries, there has been an ongoing debate occurring within Europe and within Russia. The central question in that debate has been, is Russia part of Europe?  One of Peter the greats main goals was to make Russia a force within Europe. He attempted to westernize the nation. Successive Tsars followed his policy of westernization. The Russians were instrumental in repelling Napoleon during the latters ill-fated invasion of the Russian Empire. The Russian Empire was one of the leading powers on the ailed side during the first few years of World War I.  The Russian Revolution set off a period of harsh tensions between Russia an the rest of the western world. The rise of Bolshevism and the withdrawal from the war  created a great schism between Russia and the rest of Europe. Those harsh tensions continue  until this day. There have been ebbs and flows in the conflict,  but  for many in the western world, Russia is not a part of Europe.

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The 20 year history of NAFTA

The 20 year history of NAFTA | Geography Education |
In the 20 years since it entered into force, the North American Free Trade Agreement has been both lauded and attacked in the United States. But to properly assess NAFTA’s record, it is important to first be clear about what the agreement has actually done. Economically speaking, the answer is a lot.

NAFTA was the first comprehensive free-trade agreement to join developed and developing nations, and it achieved broader and deeper market openings than any trade agreement had before.

NAFTA did that by eliminating tariffs on all industrial goods, guaranteeing unrestricted agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico, opening up a broad range of service sectors, and instituting national treatment for cross-border service providers. It also set high standards of protection for patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

NAFTA ignited an explosion in cross-border economic activity. Today, Canada ranks as the United States’ largest single export market, and it sends 98 percent of its total energy exports to the United States, making Canada the United States’ largest supplier of energy products and services. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest single export market. Over the past two decades, a highly efficient and integrated supply chain has developed among the three North American economies.  Intraregional trade flows have increased by roughly 400 percent.

North Americans not only sell more things to one another; they also make more things together. About half of U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico takes place between related companies, and the resulting specialization has boosted productivity in all three economies. NAFTA has also caused cross-border investment to soar.

In spite of this impressive economic record, NAFTA has its critics. Most of those who attack it on economic grounds focus on Mexico, not Canada, and claim that the partnership is one-sided: that NAFTA is Mexico’s gain and America’s pain. But the economic data prove otherwise.

Gary Yarus's curator insight, February 19, 2014 8:24 AM

A good review for those concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, September 21, 2014 7:42 PM

It is interesting to see exactly what NAFTA has done for North America.  Making trade easier and free between the three countries helps all the economies included.  Free trade between each other means less costly goods.  Also resources can be used from different countries and manufactured in steps not all in one place.  All of the negative comments about it being a one sided deal between the United States and Mexico can be argued with numbers about how it is in fact not a one sided agreement and both countries are benefiting from NAFTA being put in place.

David Lizotte's curator insight, January 24, 2015 3:55 PM

I found this to be an extremely interesting article. I'd say I have a basic comprehension of economics, so I am trying to expand my horizons and learn more about the topic. This article was clear, well-written/structured, and was a good read for someone not so experienced in Economics. 

I find the NAFTA agreement to be quite useful. The article did a good job at portraying many of the pros the agreement puts forth. It is clear that the three nations involved benefit. Throughout the article I was wondering if the agreement had been modified to accommodate todays new technology, trade goods, etc... The article then went and discussed this topic.The article did so through stating the importance in NAFTA branching out in other trade agreements, with nations in the Pacific as well as Nations in the EU. What's neat about this is how whether Mexico or Canada making the trade... all nations involved in the NAFTA agreement benefit. 

What I want to know however is where do these jobs, that this agreement creates are set geographically? I can only assume they are predominately in the South West (in regards to Mexico) and in the North/mid North West (in regards to Canada). Who are the people working these jobs? It seems like they'd be the immigrants themselves, not so much existing citizens. Does this create a problem amongst the masses? 

It seems as if NAFTA could benefit from expanding its trade market. This is something I am interested in reading more about and perhaps keeping up to date with. Side note... in regards to USA being able to buy capital in the countries "cross-border investment," and vis versa, I find it extremely useful and creative. 

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Places in their Proper Perspectives

Places in their Proper Perspectives | Geography Education |

"A fisherman's cottage is described by real estate agents as a 'property not to be missed' but it is also just yards away from two nuclear power stations."

Seth Dixon's insight:

A photograph (or landscape, map, etc.) is not an innocent reflection of reality.  They can be carefully crafted to tell a story which might reflect the bigger picture and your ideological framework--but it just as easily might obscure some important contexts and truths.  I use these images at the beginning of the semester to discuss the bias inherent in our own perspectives as I try to infuse my classroom with a variety of lenses with which to view different regions (images found here).

Tags: images, landscape, perspective, regions.

Adilson Camacho's curator insight, January 31, 2014 6:19 PM


Fern Torres's curator insight, February 3, 2014 4:11 PM

Perception is everything!

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 16, 2014 1:35 PM

This house is 100% misleading. The paper advertised the first picture, which from the looks of it isn't so bad. Then when you get the reverse picture and see the nuclear power plants behind it, its a whole new scene! Whoever is trying to sell this house- good luck to you. Who wants to live next to something that could literally kill god knows what? Not me. 

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Click that ’Hood!

Click that ’Hood! | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

I had the shapefiles with the various neighborhoods of Providence and the good folks at "Click that 'Hood" were gracious enough to upload it and make a local quiz based on the the 25 neighborhoods of Providence (as defined by the city government officials).  In addition to city neighborhood quizzes, they also have quizzes for regions such as Africa, South America and Europe.  This is a crowd-sourced database, so if you have the right data, you can help them to create more online quizzes.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 12:08 AM

I am not a huge fan of Providence nor do I go there often. Of course I go Rhode Island College the most when being in Providence. The second place that I typically go in Providence is the Providence Place Mall. These two are relatively close to each other. While playing this game, I was actually shocked at how many "hoods" there were in Providence. Providence does not seem that big to have all these places. Some I wasn't even familiar with and that is pretty bad considering I've lived in Rhode Island my entire life. I guess it was better late than never that I learned all of the areas in Providence.