Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
-Introduction (1 minute) -Sign up for a free Prezi account and give your students background with the Syria the Basics PREZI . (5 minutes) - Follow up with another PREZI about Youth...
"What's the difference between Holland and the Netherlands?"
This video is produced by the same gentleman that made the video that explains the difference between the terms Great Britain, England and the UK and another one that details why London is not the City of London. His style is to bombard you with facts which tell a rich story about the intricacies of place, power and culture.
In the search for Middle East peace, the most fundamental problem is the problem of disbelief.
Wouldn't you like to read the bullet points that accompany this graphic? This article written by a peace negotiator is a good "bi-partisan" approach to understanding what would be needed to actually achieve peace in the Middle East. The first step, is for both sides to believe that it can actually be achieved. Filling in a blank diagram such as this would be a great way to get students seeing the same dispute from multiple perspectives.
|Suggested by Allison Anthony|
"Mr Füzes had voiced support for the Székler people, a group of ethnic Hungarians who live in Transylvania, after two Romanian counties banned the display of the Székler flag (pictured above with men in hussar uniform) on public buildings. Zsolt Nemeth, Hungary’s state secretary for foreign affairs, described the ban as an act of “symbolic aggression” and called for local councils in Hungary to show solidarity by flying the Székler flag from town halls. The Hungarian government then raised the Székler flag above Parliament, further enraging Bucharest..."
Flags are important symbols of cultural identity and displaying them can be a strong political statement. For Hungarians, displaying symbols of a "Greater Hungary" shows some desire for irredentism--to redeem Hungarians of the 'wrong' side of the border. For those Hungarians in Romania this is an act of defiance that show that they want greater autonomy.
For sports fans, ESPN did a "30 for 30" documentary on the early 90's Yugoslavian basketball team that was a major talent (1990 World Champions) but was torn apart as devolutionary forces fractured the countries and the once-teammates were estranged after what some perceived as disrespectful acts to the Croatian national flag. Vlade Divac (a Serbian) was pitted against some of his best friends from Croatia as the civil war was playing itself out on the court as well. This is a great way to get a sports fan to learn about ethnic conflict and about the importance of cultural symbols ("Once Brothers"--$1.99, free for Amazon Prime users).
Many of the geopolitical conflicts in the East Pacific have their roots in the territorial disputes over islands that at first glance seem as if they wouldn't be worth the trouble. However, since the the UNCLOS agreement gives countries 200 nautical miles off their coasts to be an Exclusive Economic Zone, that greatly enhanced the strategic value of controlling these islands.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
On three different occasions, the candidate with the most votes didn't become President of the United States. We call this "The Electoral College Problem." Here a solution. Simple. Mathematical. Rational.
As a disclaimer, I'm not endorsing the removal of all current state borders, but I think that this is a great thought exercise that involves some serious spatial thinking and geography knowledge to create this map (or even to critique and discuss it). This map represents an attempt to restructure the states so that each state would have equal value in the electoral college with roughly equal populations (county borders remained firm). What about the physical and human geography would make some of these "states" better (or worse) than the current configuration of the 50 states? How would this 'redistricting' impact your local region?
|Suggested by Tara Cohen|
A website that examines the geographical enclaves of the world
Oil-rich, velvet-rope-poor Azerbaijan, a country about the size of South Carolina on the Caspian Sea, would very much like to be the world’s next party capital.
Azerbaijan has limited cultural prestige and international recognition, but it has great quantities of oil, and they are parlaying that wealth into an important geopolitical position in Central Asia. It appears that Baku has ambitions to become the next Dubai.
The filmmakers present a 12-step program to establish the world’s newest country: South Sudan.
What does a state need to have to be politically viable? If you were to start your own country, what would you need to do? This isn't just a hypothetical question since South Sudan is currently undergoing this process and having to answer these questions.
January 19, 2013—The West African nation of Mali is making headlines after a wave of French military actions on Islamic extremist groups now controlling the northern part of the country. National Geographic Senior Writer Peter Gwin has...
This 6-minute video clip is a good way to help students understand the ethnic and geopolitical context of the Mali conflict. What impact did the superimposed borders of colonialism have in creating the conflict?
Iran's geography plays heavily in the foreign affairs issues it is a part of, and the policies it makes.
"Iran sits smack in the middle of one of the most important geopolitical regions on Earth. Much of its western flank is bordered by either Iraq or the Persian Gulf, and it has considerable control over one of the world’s most important waterways for oil shipping and trade, the Strait of Hormuz."
Given it's context, Iran is a country that students should know beyond the three main facts that that most Americans are aware of (Iran has an Islamic-based government, an emerging nuclear program and a ton of oil). This article is a good starting point.
"The map [above] sorts the countries of the world into three groups based on their relative coup risk for 2013: highest (red), moderate (orange), and lowest (beige)."
While this is not predicting a coup in any of these places, this map is a visualization of data that was used to assess the factors that would make a coup likely (to see an alternate map, here is the Washington Post's review of the same data that mapped the 30 countries most likely to have a coup).
Questions to Ponder: What factors do you think would be important in compilling data of this nature? What makes a country susceptible to this type of governmental overthrow? What creates governmental stability?
The number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict and crossed the borders hasn't ceased to increase.
UNICEF workers have stated: "More than 600,000 have fled the conflict in Syria and registered as refugees. The number of Syrians who have left without registering is unknown but is likely to be hundreds of thousands. We do know, however, that children make up around half the number of refugees and that is certainly no way for any child to live their childhood."
"A basic truth about the cultural geography of the California border [is this]—two very different city-building traditions come crashing into each other at one of the most contentious international boundary lines on the planet. In this collision, in the shocking contrast of landscapes, lies one critical ingredient of the border’s place identity."
As a geographer native to the San Diego region (with family on both sides of the border), I found this article very compelling. Relations across the border are economic, cultural and political in nature, and the merger of those varied interests have led to an uneven history of both cooperation and separation. Herzog analyses three distinct factors that have shape the landscape of the California-Mexico border zone: urbanization, NAFTA, and global interruptions (9/11).
Balancing the interests of stakeholders in the Malian polity will be difficult, however some key steps should be taken.
This is a great article for give to students to provide them with the geo-political context to understand the situation in Mali. It also give a great reminder for observers and the involved parties to not lump all Tuareg civilians in the north with the Islamists groups that are in control. "This failure to consistently distinguish between different groups in the North by multiple stakeholders...portends longer term trouble." For additional reading, see this Geography in the News article on Mali, tailor-made for classroom.
Eighteen months ago, central Mogadishu was like an African Stalingrad.
Somalia's political troubles are not over, but it is no longer the drought-ridden country overrun by Islamist extremist that it was two years ago. For years it held the dubious title of "the world's most failed state." Al Shabbab, the militant group linked to Al Qaeda, left the capital of Mogadishu in 2011 and in 2012 lost their last stronghold. Piracy still exists off the Somali coast, but it has lessened as a semblance of political order is being restored to the Horn of Africa.
|Suggested by C. Kevin Turner|
The riots linked to flag protests in Northern Ireland are causing "significant damage" to the economy, the secretary of state warns.
Flags are tangible symbols of communal identity and political power. If the meaning behind these identities are unresolved, the symbols of these identities in public spaces becomes all the more there is contentious. Currently, the Union Jack is a lightning rod for controversy in Northern Ireland and the riots stemming from this are harming the local economy.
France is ready to stop Islamist militants who control northern Mali, the French president says, following a plea for help by his Malian counterpart.
In April 2012, Islamist rebels seized power in Northern Mali and have declared independence, proclaiming this region The Islamic State of Azawad. Recently they have begun to amass armies on the southern limits of their territory and presumably are seeking to topple all of Mali. The former colonizer, France is being called upon to assist as is the United Nations. This area is part of a region known as the Sahel, the transition from a dry North Africa to tropical Sub-Saharan Africa, from a Muslim/Arab north to a Christian/Animist/Black region of Africa. The human and physical geographic divisions in this region plays a major role in this conflict.
While city lights at night serve as a good proxy for population density, North Korea provides a dark exception.
This image is appears to be a regional inset of the classic Earth at Night composite image however this nighttime remote sensing image was taken from Sept. 2012. The Earth at Night image is typically used in classrooms to discuss what this actually means for human geography (Population density? Development? Consumption? Where? How come?). However, this particular portion of the global image focused on the Korean Peninsula highlights two other specific issues:
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
The National Rifle Association gives members of Congress a grade ranging from A to F.
Since the Newtown CT tragedy, gun control and second amendment rights have been prominent in the minds on many Americans. Your ideological position on what should be done in th future might be in part a product of geography. How do most people feel about the second amendment where you live? What about your local geography might influence those opinions?
As Kurds Fight for Freedom in Syria, Fears Rise in Turkey of Following Suit
Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds have been caught in other people's plans for what the states of the Middle East should look like and are the largest 'stateless nation' in the world. Divided between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, the Kurds have not been able to politically mobilize support for Kurdistan as they have been violently oppressed in these countries. The Kurds in Iraq have been able to gain political autonomy with the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, and the Syrian Kurds are hoping to do the same if and when the Assad regime crumbles at the end of the civil war. This make Turkey concerned that the Kurds in the southeastern part of Turkey will make renewed efforts to push for sovereignty.
UPDATE: This PBS feature explains the historic timeline of the important political events for the Kurds in Iraq.This article from the Economist focuses on the key reason that outside forces won't leave the Kurds alone: oil.
It is Italy's richest province, and has been part of the country for almost 100 years - but some in South Tyrol just do not feel fully Italian.
While the idea of everyone of the same nationality belonging to the same country might be considered an ideal situation, the world's ethnic geography is too jumbled to create perfect nation-states. South Tyrol is a part of Italy that is one of those places with mixed a ethnic, linguistic and political heritage. By different criteria, many of the residents could be considered German, Austrian or Italian or a combination of the them. Since the Euro Zone fiscal crisis, the push for political autonomy in South Tyrol has intensified, in part because this region has avoided the crisis and is economically fairing better than the rest of Italy.
Questions to Ponder: How do political borders reveal and conceal "the truth" about places on either side of the line? What elements are a part of a regions heritage? Can regions have multiple, overlapping heritages? How does devolution impact the whole country?
The BBC's John Simpson reports from Hong Kong, where the former colony's increasing independent-mindedness is worrying Beijing.
When the rule of Hong Kong transferred from the UK to China in 1997, the Chinese government was careful to ease the fears of those in Hong Kong that they would not have their political and economic systems turned upside down. "One country, two systems" was the famous slogan to sum up the policy that some felt would simply delay the inevitable. Today, many of the youth in Hong Kong are demonstrating against what they feel are pressures to do away with their unique status and are bringing back the old colonial flag. This is not asking for a return to British rule, but a symbolic reference to their distinct history from the rest of mainland China. Today only 16.6% of Hong Kong residents identify themselves as Chinese, which is the lowest it's ever been since 1997.
A new interactive tool allows you to decide how many Israeli settlers to annex and what constitutes a viable Palestinian state.
This article from the Atlantic is a great introduction to a mapping tool that puts the user at the virtual negotiation table. Peace talk proposals often center around the amount of land that Palestinians want and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank that the Israelis want as a part of the state of Israel. This interactive, titled Is Peace Possible?, allows the user to propose potential land swaps, see the demographic breakdown of West Bank settlements and videos to introduce users to on 4 major issues: borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.