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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QGIS | Geography Education |

Do you want to use GIS but don't have the budgetary support to install expensive software?  Don't know where to start?  QGIS is a free, open-source GIS that is a nice option for schools operating on a limited budget that still want a full GIS platform.


Here is an excellent set of video screencasts that are an introduction to what GIS is, using the QGIS software: .  This site also has sample data, tutorials and worksheets.


Another excellent tutorial for novices to GIS is found here: .  This tutorial was especially designed for journalists creating maps, and walks you through the installation process as well as some of the basics of the user interface.


Many small city governments without the budget to run proprietary GIS software use QGIS and here is a repository of QGIS resources including blogs, forums, tutorials and user manuals: ; An excellent blog with QGIS tutorials is:

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Tajik Remittances From Russia up 30%

Tajik Remittances From Russia up 30% | Geography Education |
Tajik migrants working in Russia sent to $2.96 billion in remittances to their families in Tajikistan in 2011, over 30 percent more than the previous year, National Bank Deputy Chairman Malokhat Kholikzoda said on Thursday.


The higher the national dependence on remittances, the worse off the country is essentially at being economically independent and viable. 

cookiesrgreat's comment, March 13, 2012 6:10 AM
Ots hard to imagine how Tajikistan can survive with their work force living otside the country
Derek Ethier's comment, October 17, 2012 10:23 PM
Tajikstan's plight symbolizes the problems most former Soviet Republics face in a post Soviet world. Almost all of these nations have an enormous reliance upon Russia in their day to day activities. As this article states, over $2.96 billion have been sent to Tajikstan from Tajiks working in Russia. Tajikstan's economy is going to tank if it's citizens continue to be so reliant on Russia.
Elizabeth Allen's comment, December 6, 2012 8:03 PM
Yes the remittance work will hurt Tajikstan's chances of economic success. But, the workers have to provide for their families. The workers need to self-preserve, with that in mind, it is natural for them not be concerned about their home country's economics.
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Common Cassava: An industrial crop to alleviate poverty

Common Cassava: An industrial crop to alleviate poverty | Geography Education |

Cassava, “manihot esculenta” is one of the most “disgraced” crops in Africa, of which Ghana is no exception.  Cassava is a woody shrub grown in tropical and subtropical regions. The shrub produces a starchy, edible root that is a major source of carbohydrates for humans in many parts of the world.  This crop plays a major role in the economic fortunes and nutritional health of millions in the developing world.   

Via W. Robert de Jongh
Brett Sinica's curator insight, November 10, 2013 2:24 PM

When I was younger I would sometimes go grocery shopping with my mother and she would always buy these strange looking "pieces of wood".  I always wondered why she would ever waste money on something that looked so inedible!  Come to find out it was cassava, or as she called it "yuca".  It is a popular part of her cuisine since she, along with the rest of her side of the family is from Puerto Rico.  Though this food is not so appealing on the outside, it tastes delicious and is a very versatile ingredient in cuisines around the world.  To be labeled a "poor man's food" is strange considering when this is brought to the dinner table, everyone dives in to make sure they get a piece or two.  Poor man's food, rich man's food, either way cassava is a staple in the economy and can play a key role in diets around the region and world.

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What America Manufactures

What America Manufactures | Geography Education |

"It's a myth that the U.S. doesn't make anything anymore."  The U.S. economy still produces more through manufacturing tangible goods ($1.5 trillion) than it does in providing services ($600 billion) for the international market.  The maps and graphs in this article are great teaching materials.  The impact of NAFTA is shown powerfully in the regionalization of U.S. trade partners, making this salient material for a discussion on supranationalism as well.   

Marissa Roy's curator insight, October 15, 2013 7:39 AM

This article and map were very interesting. I like how the article breaks down what is being made and exported in America, because honestly I had no idea, as it seems everyone grumbles that we do not make anything more. Granted, we make a lot less than we have in the past, but we are still manufactoring quite an array of goods and services

Liam Michelsohn's curator insight, December 10, 2013 12:34 PM

In the current ecnomny america is cleary importing more  than its exporting, but suprisingly not by much.  The mos common thing to find on many of todays products, cloths, phones, ect. is made in china , and beacuse of all this its a popular belife that  America doesnt make anything any more, we just buy all of our stuff from china. While this isnt true, america does not produce alot of final produts to distubite world wide. However they do have a large export of goods maily industral supply and capital goods, along with many services that add up to 2.1 trillion dollars. So while we might not be the leading  manufacture for plastic toys or cloths, its  nice to be reminded that we still contibute some things to the global trade community. 

Kenny Dominguez's curator insight, December 11, 2013 4:09 PM

This is great because now we can witness the creation of jobs in the country which can help the country get out of the depression that it is in. it also can help people get jobs and not have to worry about if there unemployment check is going enough to cover there expenses. Also people that are working are less likely to get depressed because they are not trapped in there homes because now they have something that is distracting them. But the United States is seeing a great improvement because of all the things being manufactured here. One good example is the Honda accord power plant and the ford motor company plant and even general motors in Detroit. all of these companies is helping the Americans get back into the workforce.

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Sporcle: Geography Quizzes

Sporcle: Geography Quizzes | Geography Education |
The best trivia games and quizzes on the internet.


With over 800 games and quizzes on this site with varying skill levels, there is something for everyone here.  Some are standard quizzes such as "European Countries" or "Asian capital cities."  However some get you to reorganize your global knowledge in ways you've never considered.  For example, What is the most populous city in the world for each given time zone (not that easy right)? 


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Mercator’s 500th birthday: ArcGIS Resource Center

Mercator’s 500th birthday: ArcGIS Resource Center | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

While the web mapping world still relies too much on the Mercator projection for my preference, it is a testament to the enduring impact that his ideas have had in literally shaping our World.  When discussing map projections, this article has some valuable materials.

Lisa Fonseca's comment, September 10, 2012 8:37 AM
This projection allows us to view maps at a more accurate scale. Around the world cartographers, pilots, navigators, map readers, and web mappers are using this type of projection. These professionals are invested in this projection because it is so accurate.
Paige T's comment, September 10, 2012 8:37 AM
This map may have some major distortion problems but Mercator found ways to "fix" this. Although the regions closer to the poles may be distorted, he spaced his lines accordingly in order to indicate to the viewer that there is distortion. Navigators have found this map very useful throughout the centuries because a straight line drawn on this map are lines of constant compass bearing.
Jesse Gauthier's comment, September 10, 2012 6:36 PM
This is another example of why people viewing a flat map, matted on a wall, are not getting exposure to an accurate model of measuring the world. I know when I was in public school, we were used to looking at mostly flat, wall maps. The curvature gives a person viewing this a great representation of the degrees in which these land masses are situated on the globe.
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The Islamic World's Quiet Revolution

The Islamic World's Quiet Revolution | Geography Education |

"Forget politics. Muslim countries are poised to experience a new wave of change -- but this time it's all about demographics." 


For generations the talk about demographics has been that Muslim-majority societies have cultural factors that keep fertility rates high despite the global trend that indicates that fertility rates will drop as societies become more wealthy and developed.  This 'cultural immunity' is not as impermeable as was once thought and we are now seeing falling birth rates and fertility rates throughout the Muslim World.  This article is heavy on statistics and charts, which would be a benefit to student as a potential Free Response Question. 

Seth Dixon's comment, July 30, 2012 11:36 AM
I'm very flattered that you appreciate the material...I've just started thematically organizing my resources as well, essentially along the lines of the APHG course outline...I hope this can be of help.
Quran Coaching's curator insight, July 18, 9:33 AM

The Quran-Coaching is the best platform for the quran learning by taking online quran classes.

Quran Coaching's curator insight, July 19, 7:00 AM

Help us spread the message of Quran/Hadith around the world.
Online Quran,online Tajweed.In Shaa Allah

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Google Earth in China

Google Earth in China | Geography Education |

This gallery of Google Earth Screen shots primarily from Yunnan Province in Southern China (bordering Vietnam and Burma) brings some keen spatial analysis to those unfamiliar with the region.  This is also a great example of using geospatial technologies to interpret the cultural landscape--the merger of 'people and pixels' as the textbook of the same name encourages with classrooms.  While the quality of this work is above what would be expected of students, a Google Earth project designed to get students to reassess the spatial dynamics within their neighborhood or home state could lead some fantastic projects. 

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, April 23, 1:44 PM

In this description followed by images there are all types of vintage points in order to show a clear image of where in relation a time and place a certain society/ country is and to give some background info on what you are looking at by seeing it in multiple images.

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Pass the Books. Hold the Oil.

Pass the Books. Hold the Oil. | Geography Education |
Education is a better economic driver than a country’s natural resources.


This NY Times article is compelling fodder for a discussion on economic development.  While having natural resources on the surface sounds like the best valuable asset for a nation economy, why does Friedman argue that an abundance of natural resource can hurt the national economy?  While an educated workforce is obviously an asset, just how important is it compared to other factors? 

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Kiribati and Climate Change

Kiribati and Climate Change | Geography Education |
Fearing that climate change could wipe out their Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the population to Fiji.


How urgent is the issue of climate change?  That question is not only geographic in content, but the response might also be somewhat contingent on geography as well.  If your country literally has no higher ground to retreat to, the thought of even minimal sea level change would be totally devastating. 

Cam E's curator insight, April 8, 10:23 AM

This is more than immigration, this plan is moving an entire country within another! Climate change doesn't effect the world equally in the same way that different countries are nowhere near equal. In a place as small as Kiribati, the entire place could be wiped out. The population of the nation is around 100,000 for reference.

Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, April 26, 11:42 AM

The leaders from Kiribati are considering moving some of their population to Fiji. They fear climate change could destroy their islands and force their population to leave. They want to purchase 6,000 acres from Fiji, which should be enough land for Kiribati's 103,000 people. The people hope they will not have to move to Fiji, but buying this land is a good backup plan incase their islands are a victim to climate change.   

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What Geography Can Teach Us About Basketball

What Geography Can Teach Us About Basketball | Geography Education |
Maps That Show NBA Players Where to Shoot...


What is considered a good play or a bad play in most sports is situational and depends on context.  One of the many contexts in basketball that determines that constitutes 'a good shoot' is where you are on the court in relation to the hoop.  In essence, this is a spatial factor, and spatial analysis is critical to informing sports strategy and a geography professor did just that in this study.  In this month of March, mentioning sports in a geographic context might help students see how spatial analysis matters is a wide range of subjects.

CoreyMabray's curator insight, January 13, 5:24 AM

What seems like a good shot to you might not technically described as a good shot. Where you are in comparison to the basket will determine whether it is a good shot or not. whether or not you are squared up facing the basket when you shoot is a factor on how consistent your shot will be.

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+50 Ways of Visualizing BP's Dark Mess

+50 Ways of Visualizing BP's Dark Mess | Geography Education |

This site has several infographics showing the impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

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Finding the flotsam: where is Japan's floating tsunami wreckage headed?

Finding the flotsam: where is Japan's floating tsunami wreckage headed? | Geography Education |

Scientists model where and when the debris from the March 2011 Japanese tsunami will be.  The likelihood that the debris (not radioactive) will reach the U.S. west coast is increasingly likely.  Look at the great video attached to the article.   

Brian Nicoll's curator insight, December 11, 2012 10:47 PM

It will be very interesting to see if this floating pile of junk actually reaches the west coast of the United States.  It seems possible that it could, but some of the scientists and other experts believe that it could also break up and sink before it reaches us.  One of my questions going in was whehter or not the wreckage was radioactive?  Luckily it is not radioactive and that should not be a concern for anyone. 

Brett Sinica's curator insight, December 10, 2013 2:02 PM

This video showed time elasped which stopped in the summer of 2013, it is now December.  At the time of the video the mass was entering the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean so I'm curious to where it is now.  I can't find any current imagery of the vast ocean but it would be a neat, yet dangerous spectacle.  I could only imagine any of the harm it's causing on the sealife on its way across the pacific.  We can only hope that doesn't bring too many issues once it washes up on the west coast, if at all.

Paige McClatchy's curator insight, December 14, 2013 3:09 PM

Hopefully none of the wreckage that reaches the US is radioactive.... But the projected travel of the debris shows how ocean currents create, almost, a "natural" globalization of natural disasters. 

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Anthropocene: Why You Should Get Used to the Age of Man (and Woman)

Anthropocene: Why You Should Get Used to the Age of Man (and Woman) | Geography Education |
The cover package of this week's TIME—which should still be on newsstands—detailed the 10 ideas that are changing your life. What kind of ideas, you ask?


"Welcome to the Anthropocene. It’s a new geological epoch, one where the planet is shaped less by natural forces then by the combined activity, aspirations—and emissions—of more than 7 billion human beings."  Humanity's technological advancements and impact on the Earth's planetary systems is significant enough that many scientists agree that it has fundamental shifted the geologic paradigm. 

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Will There Be a Central Asian Spring?

Will There Be a Central Asian Spring? | Geography Education |

Kazakhstan may not be ripe for revolution, but the West is making the same mistakes it made in the Arab world.

Via Amarji, Seth Dixon
Derek Ethier's comment, October 17, 2012 10:36 PM
It is sad to see Western nations ignoring Kazakhstan's drift into dictatorship as it ignores all democratic ways of governance. Since the current leader in charge is friendly with the west, powers like NATO do little to intervene. The hypocrisy behind it is that we did and said much more in Syria and Egypt where similar events took place.
Brian Nicoll's curator insight, December 11, 2012 8:44 PM

It bothers me that this is being over looked by our government.  If they are going to stand up and back the resurgance in Syria and Egypt then why are we not doing it here to?  All it would take would take is a backing from our government, but due to the ties that the have with the West, we are not stepping in.  This shows complete hypocrisy on our part. 

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 4, 7:36 AM

I couldn't view this article for some reason. It wanted me to subscribe to something.

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The meaning of ‘Kony 2012’

The meaning of ‘Kony 2012’ | Geography Education |
A warlord goes viral....


This video was the most explosively viral video in the young history of online media content that is distributed through social media networks.  What does it all mean?  This is a thoughtful article that isn't a whole-hearted embrace, nor is it a knee-jerk reaction against the #stopkony movement. 


For geography teachers, I see several take-home points: 1) this is a teaching moment to discuss ethnic conflicts and political instability in Sub-Saharan Africa and the social problems that plague a society in that context.  2) This is a powerful demonstration of the impact that social media.  Social Media is much more than chatting with friends, it can be a key component to what Friedman would describe as the 'flattening' of the Earth, a technological tool that has accelerated the pace of globalization.  3) This is also a teaching moment to correct some of the cultural bias that was evident in the video.  Chances are, students in your classroom have seen the video, have heard some of the reaction, and could use some direction in evaluating the meaning behind the phenomenon.   

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Genetically Modified Foods

"93% of Americans want the FDA to label genetically engineered foods. Watch the new video from Food, Inc. Filmmaker Robert Kenner to hear why we have the right to know what's in our food."


Clearly this video has a political agenda, but this is a pertinent video to show in an Agriculture unit.  Many countries around the world require the labeling of genetically modified food products, while the United States (currently) does not. 


For more on the organization that sponsored this video see:


For a Health blog about how this impacts nutrition, see:


For more on political action currently underway in the United States, see:

Adrian Bahan (MNPS)'s curator insight, March 7, 2013 5:21 PM

Why does the United States not have laws on the books that force companies to list GMO products on labels?

Liam Michelsohn's curator insight, December 4, 2013 11:51 AM

When looking at the issue of GMO there is one things that clear... people want to know what food is Genneictly Modified. While most poeple dont read every lable of every food product, it is different when decided how many claories something has versus knowing weather its been genneitcly enginegnered or not. I also think anouther factor why the US hasnt enforced the labeling of GMO is beacuse many companies may be forced out of business and could have a efffects on encomy.

Justin McCullough's curator insight, December 12, 2013 9:43 AM

Looking at the issue of GMOs, I think it is important to label the foods that we are consuming. As it is stated over and over in the video, we do have a right to know. If cigarettes are labelled to be dangerous and hazardous to your health, shouldn't we do the same thing with our foods that we eat on a daily basis? I feel that the map that was given in this video was very helpful and exposing. 

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For Afghan Policewomen, Sex Abuse Is A Job Hazard

The Afghan security forces now include hundreds of women, but they can face significant risks. In the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, policewomen say abuse is widespread and even includes rape by their male colleagues.


Warning: this podcast is an uncomfortable listen, but truly highlights how different a world it can be for women in countries with rigid gender norms.  Gender norms and public space play a critical role in how many societies think about what is often considered "appropriate" behavior.  Discussion Points: what efforts should be encouraged in Afghanistan to prevent this sort of problem?  WHO should be sponsoring these efforts for them to be most successful? How might a 'good plan on paper' backfire if you don't understand the cultural geography of the region?    

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Geospatial mapping enhances Arlington National Cemetery management

Geospatial mapping enhances Arlington National Cemetery management | Geography Education |
Officials at Arlington National Cemetery will use an Army-designed geospatial mapping system to manage cemetery operations, the executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program said March 8, 2012.


This is another fantastic example of how GIS, GPS and online mapping can be used within many diverse projects.  Mapping cemeteries can be an excellent service learning project for a GIS class and the exploring local cemeteries is a very hands on method for exploring local history in a way that makes place matter. Geographic skills and spatial analysis is increasingly critical in the 21st century as we've seen an explosion of online applications for geospatial technologies.   

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What March Madness Can Teach Us About the Economic Geography of Sports

What March Madness Can Teach Us About the Economic Geography of Sports | Geography Education |
The Atlantic CitiesWhat March Madness Can Teach Us About the Economic Geography of SportsThe Atlantic CitiesWhat exactly can account for the dominance of small and medium sized metros generally and college towns in particular in the economic...


While it is clear that superstar athletes in the professional ranks are concentrated in the largest cities, college athletics still let's the 'Davids' compete with the 'Goliaths.'  Interestingly, the largest cities don't have the highest per capita concentration of athletes but many small college towns do.  Among the Top 25 cities with the highest concentration of athletes in the workforce (include scholarship athletes) we find South Bend, Indiana, home to Notre Dame; Auburn, Alabama, home to the university that bears its name; Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State; Blacksburg, Virginia (Virginia Tech); Burlington, Vermont (University of Vermont); and Boulder, Colorado (University of Colorado).  

Anhony DeSimone's curator insight, December 19, 2013 6:47 AM

This article shows us the comparisons between  economic geography and sports. This article focuses on basketball and the March Madness Tournament. By seeing which teams when based on their conference (where the college is located in region) you can see why certain teams do so well and why athletes want to go to that college.

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America Is Stealing the World’s Doctors

America Is Stealing the World’s Doctors | Geography Education |
Who wants to practice medicine in a country where they use power tools in surgery? The dilemma of doctors in the developing world.


This article's title is inflammatory, but it touches on some very real interconnected geographic issues.  Economic development in the many parts of the world is complicated by the migration issue of 'brain drain.'  The individual choices that doctors from the less developed world face often lead the best and brightest workers to leave their home country.  If you could make a very good living as in the United States (the median salary of a surgeon in New Jersey is $216,000) or go back to your home country where your skills are more desperately needed (in Lusaka, Zambia a surgeon makes about $24,000 a year), which would you choose?  This is not a hypothetical example (nor one with only one right answer) but one rooted in a globalized economy, where the places that offer the greatest opportunities for individual advancement get the top talent--excellent for the individual and family economies but problematic at the national scale.

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How Big is my World?

This type of mapping project is a fantastic way to teach scale to elementary school students. 

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United States of Mind

United States of Mind | Geography Education |
A study on the geography of personality mapped the prevalence of personality traits among all 50 states, drawing on 600,000 assessments.


This is an interest way to analyze cultural difference within the United States.  While most of these measured traits vary more from person to person than they do from region to region, there are some patterns worth analyzing in a classroom setting. 

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Internat'l agreement to end child soldiers

With #stopkony trending on twitter, there is growing interest in the concept of child soldiers.  This is a great video to discuss the issue beyond Central Africa and other international efforts to end the use of child soldiers. 

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Income Distribution: Poor, Rich, And Richest

Income Distribution: Poor, Rich, And Richest | Geography Education |
One of the focal points of the protests raging in Zuccotti Park and around the world is the sizable gap between the rich and everyone else. Yet as the below graphic shows, there are many different levels of wealth among even the richest of the rich.
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