Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
See how people around the world pray...video examples of prayer and the cultural/spiritual significance are shown highlighting Buddhists, Mormons, and Sikhs. Place is very important component to prayer for many and the 4th example shows how some use a labyrinth as a tool to commune with the divine.
There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans than Catholic Americans or mainline Protestant Americans.
Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
Hundreds of churches around Europe have closed or are threatened by plunging membership, posing a question for communities: What to do with the once-holy, now-empty buildings?
Europe, the most developed region in the world, is also the most secular region today. During colonial times, Europeans were spreading Christianity across the globe, but now Christianity is becoming more a part of Europe's historical landscape. Secularization can be seen as either the cause or the effect of several other European trends such as declining fertility rates. Today Europe is filled with historic cathedrals, but there is no one to fill them.
Questions to Ponder: What are other signs of secularization on the cultural landscape? What would you do with a former sacred site (and an architectural treasure) that is can't be maintained?
"A new report released by the Pew Research Centre has found that the proportion of Catholics in Latin America has dropped 25% since 1970. One of the primary drivers for the rise in the numbers leaving the Catholic Church? Conversion to Protestantism."
"It's perfectly human to grapple with questions, like 'Where do we come from?' and 'How do I live a life of meaning?' These existential questions are central to the five major world religions -- and that's not all that connects these faiths. John Bellaimey explains the intertwined histories and cultures of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam."
This TED ED Lesson outlines the basics of five major world religions which in turn have profoundly reshaped the cultural geographies we see today. While the narration in the video might be a bit dry, the visuals immerse the viewer into the cultural context from which these religions emerged.
"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."
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?
"CATHOLIC Argentina, Mexico & Phillippines have more babies born per woman than MUSLIM Indonesia, Iran & Turkey."
Gapminder is a tremendous resource that I've shared in the past and total fertility rates is an ideal metric to see in this data visualization tool. As Hans Rosling said in one of his TED talks using Gapminder, religion and total fertility rates are not as connected as previously thought. In this particular mode, you can see how three predominantly Catholic countries (Philippines, Argentina and Mexico) compare in Total Fertility Rates to three predominantly Muslim countries (Indonesia, Turkey and Iran).
Questions to Ponder: Historically many have assumed that Catholic and Muslim populations would have higher birth rates; why is this changing? How important a factor is religion in changing fertility rates? What are other factors impact a society's fertility rate?
I recently got my hands on a fabulous atlas entitled Mapping Mormonism which shows the historical geographies of this particular Christian denomination (see a review here). I'll briefly share just this one cartogram above that is from the atlas; it displays territory not by the size of the landmass but by the LDS population living within the given territory. While we would expect to see Utah to be very large on this cartogram, are there other pockets of large LDS populations that are surprising to you? What explains the small spatial distribution patterns of limited diffusion that you see? The LDS church is well-known for its missionary program and proselytizing efforts—does that play a role in this map?
On a related side note I found a curious political/religious map of the United States (a map that is partially explained by understanding some of the patterns on the map above). The most typical religious maps show where particular religions are pre-dominant. This map shows territories marked not by the faith of the residents but by the religion of the local congressmen. This make me wonder: Is this map religious or political? Is there valuable information to glean from this maps or is it simply a fun curiosity? How does the religious geography of the United States impact political geography (or vice versa)?
Dynamic infographic on world religions (don't be intimidated by the page being in Russian... The graphic is not).
Religious traditions are interconnected and often share common roots and ancestries. This stunning infographic is an attempt to visually reconcile these disparate strands of faith into one cohesive whole (the image above is far too small to do it justice, but I tried to show the image at various scales).
"I first learned to appreciate this anthem as a child watching the movie Chariots of Fire with my father. My father was an avid runner in the early 80's and still continues to run to this day; he also is a devout Christian who seeks to earnestly honor the Sabbath Day. Clearly the movie Chariots of Fire would resonate deeply with him and become a Dixon family classic to be watched over and over."
Provo, Utah, and Burlington, Vermont, represent opposite ends of the U.S. religiosity spectrum.
The majority of the most religious metros are concentrated in the South or Utah. This particular weekend, many of the rythmns of urban life in Utah cities are remarkably visible as the LDS church holds it's semi-annual General Conference. On the opposite side of spectrum, 5 of the 10 least religious metros are in New England; the west coast is the other center of diminished religiosity (with a mini-center in Colorado).
Questions to ponder: What cultural patterns help to partially explain the levels of religiosity in the United States? What other factors explain the patterns of religiosity in your in your local area?
Infographics showing the distribution of the Roman Catholic population in the world, where it has risen and fallen in recent years.
(3rd UPDATE) The new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics is expected to deliver a speech in an hour
The juxtaposition of the hypermodern coverage of the election of a new pope (telecasts, social media, instantaneous global network coverage, etc.) with the archaic medieval rituals of the conclave (locked doors, smoke signals, etc.) is endlessly fascinating to me. Even in the 21st century, there is a place for the traditional. So who is Pope Francis? As the first South American pope, some feel this reflects the southern demographic shift within the Catholic Church. Also, click here for the science behind the white vs. black smoke.
|Suggested by Kara Charboneau|
The Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Study religion map diagrams which religions have the highest populations in each state.
The geography of religion, even in an era of secularization, is still a powerful indicator of many patterns of human geography. What is the religious profile of your state? What is the spatial distribution of the religious tradition with which you identify? What explains those spatial patterns?
In 1900, two-thirds of the world’s Catholics lived in Europe. Today only 20 percent do.
As Europe has become an increasingly secularized set of societies, the demographic based of the Catholic Church has shifted south. However, the power structure has not migrated south as the European cardinals still are a majority (although 2/3 vote necessary to elect the next pope).
New demographic study in California reveals nation’s changing face. Plus how Pacific Islanders changed high school football in Utah and why a Somali Bantu band from Vermont is in demand around the country.
This news article of 'odds and ends' has some interesting geographic content. Having lived in Utah for many years, I can attest to the fact that the "Polynesian Pipeline" for Utah schools is incredibly important and represents a chain migration that has culturally shifted both the 'host' and 'migrant' population. The 'haka' is now institutionized as a part of Intermountain West football culture.
Also in this article:
--Hispanics to outnumber whites in California by 2014
--Somali Bantu band from Burlington, VT in demand across the country
Thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church marked Epiphany on January 19 with a dip in freezing waters blessed by a cleric. Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ and the...
Some of the photography and photo galleries of this cultural event are breathtaking--literally for those taking the plunge. Russians cut the ice in the shape of a cross and bath in water that is blessed and considered holy. This appears to be a religious tradition that is particularly adapted to the environmental conditions of the religious adherents (since it appears that the extreme climate plays a critical role in the activity). Part of the practice involves sacrifice; the colder the swim, the greater the manifestation of religious devotion.
The exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population. Bob Simon reports.
This 14 minute clip looks at the complex political and cultural geography of the Israel and Palestine. While often reduced to being a struggle between Israeli Jews and Palestinians Muslims, this missed simplification fails to tell the story of Palestinian Christians.
"The location of every identifiable place mentioned in the Bible."
I understand that this may have limited applications for you in public classroom settings, however this is such a fantastic example of how to use geospatial technologies to recreate and understand historical geographies, I had to share. You can preview the data by book and chapter, download the numerous KMZ files to open in Google Earth, or preview them in Google Maps. Also, various overlays and geotagged photos are available on this impressive website.
A fight broke out at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem after rival groups of Orthodox and Armenian clerics clashed over the boundaries of their jurisdictions inside the church.
This is a great video to show religious geography and how scale plays a key role in a patterns. Not only does the macro-religious geography of the Levant lead to politically contentious situations, but the micro-religious geography can also be problematic. This building itself has a curiously devided spatial pattern among Christian branches that demands tolerance, cooperation and searching for ways to share a place that many groups find holy...this could be seen as symbolic way to look at the whole area.
The Big Religion Comparison Chart is a comparison chart of religions that compares the origins, beliefs, practices, and texts of world religions, small religions, ancient cults and new religious movements.
While I might disagree with a few of the nuances of their doctrinal generalizations, this is a great way to compare global religions with a similar framework (and to be fair, summarizing a 'world view' in few than two paragraphs is inherently problematic).
This is one of the more impressive cultural landmarks in the world, and an architectural marvel. Studying the cultural landscape reveals that multiple 'layers' are superimposed one upon another. This phenomenon, known as sequent occupance, is most plainly manifested in this site. The Haga Sophia has been both a Christian and Muslim holy site, depending which political empire has controlled the city of Istanbul.