Geography Education
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Geography Education
Geography Education
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography students and teachers.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Food, Nutrition and Geography

Peter Menzel's beautiful photography and our Hungry Planet...


This video is a fascinating portal into global food systems and how globalization is impacting local foods.  He traveled around the world to see what families eat in a given week, and how much all the food cost and where it can from.  Many wealthy countries exhibit poor nutritional habits (eating food high in fat, sugar and salt) while some in poorer people have a very balanced diet.  This leads him to describe the 'Nutritional Transition.'  Warning before showing in class: there are brief instances of non-sexualized nudity in the video. 

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What’s your local HDI (human development index)?

What’s your local HDI (human development index)? | Geography Education |

"A recently-released online tool enables Californians to see where they stand on a “human development index” – a composite measure of health, knowledge and standard of living developed by the American Human Development Project of the Social Sciences..." 

This is cool.  Instead of aggregating the data at the country level and comparing countries, we can see differences in local levels of human development.  Students see patterns of socio-economics and development vividly, and in an intensely local way tailored to their regional frame of reference.   

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Natural resources and economic development

Natural resources and economic development | Geography Education |
When will Sierra Leoneans be able to benefit from their own natural resources, instead of being cursed by them?


Sierra Leone is a country that has been 'blessed' with excellent natural resources, and remains in political chaos with one of the lowest HDI scores.  For a national economy, having abundant natural resources does not guarantee economic prosperity.  This is baffling to many that don't see the political and geographic context that shapes various economic sectors.  This is good a way to demonstrate that context.       

Irini Kassidis's curator insight, August 25, 2013 2:46 AM

This article is discussing the issue of natural resources that is having a negative effect on Sierra Leone. Several years ago, business people were going there for the diamonds but now they are going there for the timber. The country's forest are at risk of being completely wiped out.

it is very sad the situation that Sierra Leone are facing in regards to their natural resources. 

Meagan Harpin's curator insight, October 6, 2013 5:01 PM

Even though thousands are fleeing the country in search of something better big buisness see the country as a land of opportunity, but to those that live there Sierra Leone’s natural resources have been a curse. A decade ago diamonds put the country into an 11 year civil war and it is about to happen again over a unique wood found deep in the forests. We tend to forget that the wars that tear countires apart arent always started by political issues but also by natural rescources.  

Marissa Roy's curator insight, November 26, 2013 1:52 PM

Thousands of Sierra Leoneans are fleeing the country in search of a better life. Corporations see the country as a land of opportunity, because of the rich resources. Diamonds put the country into a civil war. Now, wood is threatening to do the same thing. Natural resources can be more precious than anything else to some people. They are seen as worth fighting for.

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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: 

Lisa Fonseca's comment, November 27, 2011 6:51 PM
I think the hole in the wall program is a positive outcome for the children. They are learning to work cooperatively with others. They are also learning to play and work with programs that are used frequently in other areas of the world. These children may not have resources to teach them vocabulary, or phonics, or the alphabet but with these computers that are able to learn. As they learn they can then teach others, it is has a great educational value to help later in their lives. These children also get to see other parts of the world. They don't just see their world of poverty but it will also get them to think and view life with more light and better views.
Seth Dixon's comment, November 29, 2011 2:50 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 11:35 AM

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.

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The Geography of Hunger and Food Insecurity

Why are some communities more vulnerable to hunger and famine? There are many reasons, which together add up to food insecurity, the world's no.1 health risk...


Excellent summary of the geographic factors that lead to food insecurity and hunger and the main ways NGO's are trying to combat the issues.   This is an incredibly complex problem that, at it's heart, is a geographic issue that can challenge student to synthesize information and make the connections between topics.  

Lisa Fonseca's comment, December 4, 2011 10:02 PM
This is a incredible clip that does challenge students to synthesize information and make the connections between topics, but it can also help students to realize making a difference at a early age is important. I learned an abundance of facts just from watching, it was informative and intriguing. As I was watching the video I was thinking of ways it can be incorporated into the classroom. This video could get students to learn about the world's number one health risk. Incorporating it into the classroom by holding a food drive, or having a school wide fundraiser to donate to the British Red Cross is also another way to help. Getting our future minds informed and helping the community will make an impact in the future.
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Asia's rise -- How and When?

Asia's rise -- How and When? | Geography Education |

"TED Talks Hans Rosling was a young guest student in India when he first realized that Asia had all the capacities to reclaim its place as the world's dominant economic force."


Regions, cultures and economies are not static in this era of globalization.  However, in the United States we are accustomed to a position of prominence that is assumed to be a 'birthright.'  The data presented here shows how countries such as India and China might "catch up" to the United States and United Kingdom later in the 21st century (2048?). 

cookiesrgreat's comment, April 12, 2012 10:54 AM
India could out pace China in the Global Market, but it needs to address its infrastructure, Islam-Hindu conflict and become a first world country not a third world sidekick.
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How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

" We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart..."

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Awaiting Tomorrow - People Living with HIV/AIDS in Africa

From | "Awaiting Tomorrow" tells the story people living with HIV/AIDS in the war-torn Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo...


This video provides a chilling glimpse into the struggle of Africans with AIDS/HIV without sufficient medical care.  

kmendez's comment, November 22, 2011 5:50 PM
i think this video is very important to aware people of the lack of medical attention these people of congo have. she also made a point that the government isn't doing much, that if they would she could be an example of getting the word out that they too can get help and medical support for the disease.
Lisa Fonseca's comment, December 4, 2011 9:49 PM
Many more people should be aware of this clip. Here is a twenty five year old with four children, and now has been dealing with aids for one year. The likely chance of him surviving being that he is living in such poverty, is very low. It is awful to see his four children watching their father slowly die of aids, but it also can be seen as a lesson to the children to learn and become aware of aids and learn how to avoid them. This young adult not only wanted to survive but also wanted to survive to be a spokesperson to the world. I think more and more people need to be aware of situations like these. Yes, many people know Africa has a high percentage of aids but 2.6 million people in just Democratic Republic of Congo are living with aids. If people became more aware of this situation by watching videos like these and seeing how they could make an impact I think this number could be lowered. Possibly we can start by showing videos like this to adolescents and getting them knowledged in this area at a young age.
Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 5:36 PM

This video is so sad because HIV/AIDS  in the DRC and other African countries is definitely preventable and treatable but due to the immense amounts of poverty and the lack of information about contraceptives and protection, millions are infected every year.

The man featured in this video mentions that the government does nothing to help fund medical centers or any other assistance and it is truly shameful.

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Where the 1% Live

Where the 1% Live | Geography Education |
The richest Americans are gathered in a handful of metropolitan areas...


Spatial analysis shows that that 1% are not only economically clustered, but also geographically clustered in a handful of major metropolitan areas. 

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China's farming history misapplied in Africa

China's farming history misapplied in Africa | Geography Education |
Sub-Saharan Africa is being sold misguided agricultural policies based on hybrid seeds and chemical inputs.


Written by Bill Moseley, a geography professor from Macalester College, this is a fantastic example of the importance of not simply using a mass-produced "one-size-fits-all" approach to economic develop and agricultural policies throughout the world.  (Not so) Surprisingly, geography, place and local context matter. 

Cam E's curator insight, March 18, 9:38 AM

This is a big deal for me, as I'm always interesting looking into the far future for humanity as a whole. It's very important that a mistake is not made with the vast agricultural power that lays in the soil of Africa. Experiments with hybrid seeds and new technologies can yield a higher production, but at a cost we are not yet fully aware of. Many years down the line it's unclear as to what the result of this sort of farming will be, and I believe the last thing we want to do is to put all our eggs in one basket with this situation, as it could yield a worst case scenario where most of earth's farmland becomes useless for the purposes of growing due to an unforeseen long-term consequence of artificial seeds and the like. We should pursue technology with all haste and push forward without fear, but we need a reliable backup in case things go wrong.


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Surviving progress

Surviving progress | Geography Education |
Ronald Wright's bestseller A Short History of Progress inspired this cinematic requiem to progress-as-usual. Throughout human history, what seemed like progress often backfired.


This critique of modern consumerism and how society interacts with the environment is fundamentally asking geographic questions about globalization.  Is all change progress?

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World population nears 7 billion: Can we handle it?

World population nears 7 billion: Can we handle it? | Geography Education |
She's a 40-year-old mother of eight, with a ninth child due soon. The family homestead in a Burundi village is too small to provide enough food, and three of the children have quit school for lack of money to pay required fees.


Here are some more perspectives on demographics, climbing population totals and the consequences and realities of these numbers. 

Lisa Fonseca's comment, October 19, 2011 2:46 PM
I do not believe we can continue to increase drastically in population and handle it. Natural resources eventually end. Agriculturally we may be able to grow crops and food but eventually that too will come to a shortage. With an increase in population we increase in levels of pollution in the air, soil, and water. Inadequate water supply for drinking and sewage is another problem we could face. Just overall we would increase in higher levels of poverty because the shortage of jobs would continue to increase. This would lead to an abundance of things such an malnutrition, starvation, increase in homeless population and so much more.
Seth Dixon's comment, October 21, 2011 10:01 AM
Back the Nepal forest video, sustainability of resource consumption is the key. There are complications with population growth no doubt...but which are the CULTURAL issues surrounding population growth?
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Video: Fighting Poverty with Ingenuity

I absolutely love creative, out-of-the-box, innovative people! People who use their creativity to make a difference in the World.... Incredible! "We want to ...

Seth Dixon's insight:

Find out more about this organization at:

Rebecca Farrea's curator insight, December 5, 2013 7:30 AM

This video is truly amazing and so interesting.  I wonder how people come up with the idea to put the water and bleach in a soda bottle to create light in very dark homes.  Just getting people in the United States to properly recycle their soda bottles is difficult enough, nevermind getting people to think outside of the box and create new innovations that save money and really work.  The man who created these light sources is seen as a true hero in this area because he has helped so many.  This video is incredible and is really telling of what people are able to do to help others if they just put in the time.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, April 16, 3:13 PM

Turning trash into treasure is the simplest way to describe this phenomenon.  Soda bottles are easily turned into light bulbs in areas that do not receive much natural light. This alternative to electricity is perfect for an area of low income. They are able to get more done and keep costs down low while getting rid of water bottles at the same time.

Paige Therien's curator insight, April 24, 10:09 AM

Manila is one of the largest cities in the Phillippines, an archipelago consisting of more than 7,000 islands.  In terms of infrastructure, one huge problem that an archipelago like the Phillippines has to deal with is getting electricity to span over the entrie country and reach all of it's citizens.  One way of "solving" this is by not doing anything at all; as a result,  millions in Manila live in darkness.  This probably has negative effects in terms of mental health and limits people to doing things outside and in times of daylight.  One man is turning this around by installing plastic water bottles filled with water and bleach into people's ceilings.  They offer quite a bit of illumination and they are changing people's lives.  This idea would be laughed at in places like the United States.  In Manila however, not only are they completely recycling bottles which are imported from different countries and then take up room and add to pollution, they are easily and economically addressing a huge need in the country.  The houses, which are built using corregated metal, allow the technical aspect of this idea to work.

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Agriculture and Rural Development Day UN Climate Talks

Agriculture and Rural Development Day UN Climate Talks | Geography Education |
Farmers are at the forefront of dealing with climate change around the world. How are they coping, and what opportunities do the shifts present?


An excellent set resources discussing the plight of farmers various regional and ecological situations.  From the famers in Mozambique impacted by unreliable rainfall to Guyana farmers at risk from rising sea fells, climate change is impacting the most vulnerable (and the least responsible) the hardest.  

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2011 UN Human Development Report

2011 UN Human Development Report | Geography Education |
The Human Development Report (HDR) was first launched in 1990 with the single goal of putting people back at the center of the development process in terms of economic debate, policy and advocacy.


With a host of links that connect you to videos, charts, statistics about both the present and projections into that future, this is a fantastic resource for any lesson on development. 

Seth Dixon's comment, December 3, 2011 5:39 AM
Thanks for recooping the link...I think this one will be incredibly valuable.
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Dangerous work

Dangerous work | Geography Education |
In Guatemala City, a place called "The Mine" can deliver both a means of survival and a grisly death. Every day, dozens of residents salvage a living by scouring the massive dump for scrap metal.


This thanksgiving I'd like to discuss one of my goals in teaching a geography course in the developed world. I hope to cultivate a sense of thanksgiving and gratitude for the many good things that are easy to take for granted. Balanced with that, I try to teach that economic disparities are NOT a function of moral, mental or physical superiority.  Therefore I try to instill a sense of thankfulness that does not become boastfulness or entitlement--hopefully that ethos will infuse this day's festivities. Happy Thanksgiving!

sdion's comment, January 30, 2012 11:23 AM
makes me thankful for the jobs i have. i also wonder what the health side effects are of working in these locations. are the workers experiencing shorter life spans or anything like that?
Cam E's curator insight, February 4, 9:28 AM

As someone who has scoured dumps for things before, this sounds like no fun at all! You can find a lot of cool things that are left at dumps, but this doesn't even begin to compare to what they're facing at "The Mine". The smell and possible injuries must be overwhelming. If left untreated, a cut from anything in one of these places could prove fatal.

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Dubai, The World Islands

We are told that we should change the world to be what we think it should be...this urban development has taken that to the extreme, showing human/environmental interactions, development and urban issues in Dubai, UAE.  For more information about this place, see: 

ecoLogicStudio's comment, November 30, 2011 4:01 AM
fun place // some more info here:
proto-e-co-logics's comment, December 1, 2011 4:33 AM
thanks @ecoLogic
Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, March 26, 12:52 PM

Dubai has ideas of changing the world for what it is and changing it for what we want it to be. Although the ideas are beautiful and tempting, not all ideas are logical. If all homes had their own private beaches there would be problems across the world with storms, flooding, and damage. Not every island would have easy access to supermarkets, hospitals and schools. These issues may seem minor, but in the larger scale be very major and detrimental. 

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Plastic Bottle House, Developmental Association for Renewable Energies

Plastic Bottle House, Developmental Association for Renewable Energies | Geography Education |

One person's trash is another person’s building material...or so it would seem. In the village of Sabon Yelwa the Developmental Association for Renewable Energies (DARE) has instigated an ingenious scheme to transform the region’s litter problem into a positive future for the community through the construction of new residences.

Via Lauren Moss
Sinclair Tucker's comment, January 30, 2012 12:10 PM
whats really interesting about this is the twenty times strenth then bricks building which are normally the buildings built in Nigeria and most of Africa. Another interesting fact is the resistance to earthquake which is very important.
Fabián Salazar Bazúa's curator insight, March 11, 2013 4:09 PM

Otro ejemplo de lo que la creatividad e imaginación puede hacer con las construcciones.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, March 17, 2:53 PM

Creativity at its finest! In Sabon Yelwa new residences are constructed from plastic bottles. It is a great way of using something that does harm for the planet and turning it into something beneficial. DARE uses litter as a way to provide decent shelter and eliminate trash filling the streets. Plus it serves as an interesting focal piece!

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What happens when you flush a toilet in the world's tallest building?

What happens when you flush a toilet in the world's tallest building? | Geography Education |

Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates displays an image that is hyper-modern, sophisticated and technologically advanced.  The "Mall of the Emirates" even has a ski lift in it.  Dubai is now home to the tallest skyscraper in the world, matching that image perfectly.


But is this perception that is carefully choreographed the full picture?  When you flush in this magnificent building, the waste is removed by truck.  This jarring juxtaposition of cosmopolitanism and under-developed infrastructure shows an intriguing glimpse to the inner workings of urban and economic geographies of the UAE.      

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Wade Davis on Endangered Cultures

TED Talks With stunning photos and stories, National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world's indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate.


This is a fantastic look at indigneous cultures around the world.

Jesse Gauthier's comment, December 8, 2012 2:21 PM
The first thing that struck my attention in this video was when the speaker said that other cultures teach us about alternative ways to orient ourselves, as humans, on Earth. I never thought about cultures in that sense. When I would look at another culture that is much different from my own culture I just couldn’t comprehend their way of life. But, each culture is just using the Earth’s resources in many various ways, making us not so different in the end. It also makes it much easier to comprehend stranger cultures than our own.
Don Brown Jr's comment, December 10, 2012 7:27 PM
This video brings to light a real dilemma concerning the “plight” of indigenous cultures in the modern world. The forces of globalization has been accelerated by improvements in communication and transportation technologies which have made interaction seem almost instantaneous compared to previous centuries. Yet, this globalized world is changing our notions of significance and attachment to place due to this relative ease of mobility. I have to acknowledge that this is something the indigenous cultures haven’t lost. As Davis clearly explains, the relative isolation that these societies adapted to is becoming increasingly difficulty to maintain, as the forces of global economic integration is binding the world closer to gather (whether people like it or not).
Also another issue that concerns me revolves around the unintended consequences of trying to preserve these cultures. It is possible that we may be accelerating their extinction as external pressure from us may cause these indigenous cultures to become specialized areas which eventually become subject to “exotic” tourism and research, inevitably changing the culture of what was intended to be preserved.
John Caswell's curator insight, February 6, 6:59 AM

Important watch.

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NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools

NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools | Geography Education |
Celia Dugger reports from the Kwamfundo School near Cape Town on South Africa's struggling public education system.

This poignant clip shows that South Africa may be in a post-apartheid era, but most certainly not a post-racial era as schools are as deeply divided as ever. 

Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 5:43 PM

In this video, it is inspiring to see the South African children have big dreams regardless of the situation in their country.  Even though they are impoverished and the public school system remains segragated and insufficient, they have hope.  Apartheid left deep scars on the country of South Africa and the kids in this video quite obviously still have hard times but they strive for education that is now available to them, continuing to work in the absence of teachers and struggling home lives.

Cam E's curator insight, March 18, 9:44 AM

With apartheid having just recently ended in the scope of history, this is not surprising. Tensions will always exist after conflicts, segregation, or wars for many in the generations that experienced it. Time will tell how South Africa handles this situation, but as it is now many of these children's parents were deeply involved or effected by the apartheid system.

Ido Lifshitz's curator insight, April 21, 3:40 PM

most of the whites study in private school which they get there better education , and it's very expensive so only few  of the black get the money to study there, however the blacks have Affirmative Action to get to the university after the school

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Countries must plan for climate refugees

Countries must plan for climate refugees | Geography Education |
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's governments and relief agencies need to plan now to resettle millions of people expected to be displaced by climate change, an international panel of experts said on...

Climate change and political geography should merge, but unfortunately not in this way. 

Via Cathryn Wellner
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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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How They Found National Geographic's "Afghan Girl"

How They Found National Geographic's "Afghan Girl" | Geography Education |
She was one of the world's most famous faces, yet no one knew who she was. Her image appeared on the front of magazines and books, posters, lapel pins, and even rugs, but she didn't know it.


While her image is iconic, her story is remarkably mundane and sadly representative of the many Afghan women who have lived in refugee camps. 

Brian Nicoll's curator insight, December 11, 2012 9:28 PM

While the picture may be famous, she still represents depressing life that the women of her generation live.  I found it interesting that she had no idea that her photo was so iconic.  To have a photo taken of you that was used in for a variety of different things, all while not knowing about it is quite shocking.  As famous as the photo is however, it should not cloud the symbolism that the photo stands for. 

Paige McClatchy's curator insight, October 20, 2013 7:39 PM

I'm so glad that National Geographic found such an exotic specimen in the wild and that the US government graciously put its technology to use to catalog her..... seriously the Western fascination with the image of this Afghan woman, 1 of insanely many, is something I don't get. I think it makes us all feel "cultured" and "informed" when we can sit in the comfort of a dentist or doctor's waiting room and breeze through a Nat Geo cover to cover. A cheap thrill.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 4, 7:38 AM

Her face was a publicity stunt. Her story is sad and is brutal. She was in a refugee camp but her story is only one of many. She didn't know she was the face of National Geographic and people have the image of her in their minds when they think of Aghani women.

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UN: Facts and Figures on Rural Women

UN: Facts and Figures on Rural Women | Geography Education |

Countries with the highest levels of hunger also have very high levels of gender inequality...

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