Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

Conventional wisdom in the West blames the Ukraine crisis on Russian aggression. But this account is wrong: Washington and its European allies actually share most of the responsibility, having spent decades pushing east into Russia’s natural sphere of interest.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Ukraine is culturally, economically, and geographically connected with Russia. It is a territory that Russia cannot afford to lose as a part of their sphere of influence.  John Mearsheimer, in his article Why Ukraine Crisis is the West's Fault, gives a detailed account of NATO expansion and how it effected the Russian demand for hegemony in East Europe. Ultimately it is his conclusion that it was this expansion that provoked the Russians, and the current crisis is on the hands of the West. The will of a majority of Ukrainians is be begin economically aligning more with EU/NATO countries.  Ukraine decided against Russia, and Russia responded with force.   Here is an article where scholars weigh in and mostly disagree with the author's provocative assessment


Tags: op-ed, Ukrainesupranationalism, Russia, geopoliticspolitical.


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The Chernobyl Disaster: How It Happened

On April 26, 1986, a routine safety test at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine spiraled out of control. Follow the dramatic events that led to the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Today marks 30 years since the worst nuclear accident in history.  The disaster reshaped Ukraine and Belarus as radioactive material spread throughout Europe; liquidators went in to clean up, putting themselves at great personal risk while the Soviet media reports tried to act as if things were under control.  Learn more by reading these articles from the BBC, Global News, and the Washington Post; you can also view videos of an extended academic talk and documentary about the Chernobyl disaster.  Today the wildlife in the regions is surging forward as people are staying out of the region.   


Tagsdisasters, environmentUkraineRussia.  

Carlos Fosca's curator insight, April 26, 11:14 PM

Hoy se cumplen 30 años de la tragedia de Chernobil. Este video explica de manera muy sencilla y bastante resumida la causa principal del desastre: un terrible error humano. Paradójicamente lo que debió ser una prueba para mejorar la seguridad del reactor #4 terminó convirtiéndose en una explosión radioactiva equivalente a 400 bombas de Hiroshima. Que no se vuelva a repetir.

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Geography textbook changed after Crimea row

Geography textbook changed after Crimea row | Geography Education |
A geography textbook that prompted a complaint from the Ukrainian embassy for showing Crimea as part of Russia is changed.
Seth Dixon's insight:

How we describe and categorize geopolitical shifts matter, and can ocassionally ruffle some feathers.  More important than the ruffled feathers is the fact that how we present the issues helps to shape students' perspectives.  In a somewhat related article, the Russian annexation of Crimea has magnified internal divisions in Kazakhstan.  


Tags: UkraineRussia, geopoliticspolitical, Kazakhstan.

Education 's curator insight, March 4, 4:09 AM

How we describe and categorize geopolitical shifts matter, and can ocassionally ruffle some feathers.  More important than the ruffled feathers is the fact that how we present the issues helps to shape students' perspectives.  In a somewhat related article, the Russian annexation of Crimea has magnified internal divisions in Kazakhstan.  


Tags: Ukraine, Russia, geopolitics, political, Kazakhstan.

Leonardo Wild's curator insight, March 8, 3:51 PM

How we describe and categorize geopolitical shifts matter, and can ocassionally ruffle some feathers.  More important than the ruffled feathers is the fact that how we present the issues helps to shape students' perspectives.  In a somewhat related article, the Russian annexation of Crimea has magnified internal divisions in Kazakhstan.  


Tags: Ukraine, Russia, geopolitics, political, Kazakhstan.

Jodi Esaili's curator insight, March 9, 8:40 AM

How we describe and categorize geopolitical shifts matter, and can ocassionally ruffle some feathers.  More important than the ruffled feathers is the fact that how we present the issues helps to shape students' perspectives.  In a somewhat related article, the Russian annexation of Crimea has magnified internal divisions in Kazakhstan.  


Tags: Ukraine, Russia, geopolitics, political, Kazakhstan.

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Putin: Turkey's downing of jet a 'stab in the back'

Putin: Turkey's downing of jet a 'stab in the back' | Geography Education |
Russian warplane crashes in Latakia province in Syria and two pilots seen ejecting from the aircraft.
Seth Dixon's insight:

A border is not a line in the sand but a vertical plane, defining airspace as well as underground assets. The protection of borders and airspace is something that sovereign states take very seriously and can lead to some tense situations.  

Tags: borders, political, conflict, geopolitics.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 4:48 PM

it is truly insane that turkey would shoot down a Russian jet engaging anyone in Syria, especially when the Turks are shooting at the Kurds, who are fighting the people that the Turks claim to hate. this is especially troubling, as Turkey is a part of NATO and may drag the rest of the NATO nations into any war they start.

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Fiddler on the Roof

Seth Dixon's insight:

Folk cultures are often described as regionally based, nearly homogeneous, rural cultures.  These societies are typically dominated by the older generation, traditional, family-based and slow to change.  This is an audio-visually rich collage showing a classic example of a folk culture being confronted by the forces of a changing world. 

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Folk Culture--Tradition

Seth Dixon's insight:

The clip which starts at 0:25 (speaking at 0:50) is an audiovisually rich cultural collage.  Folk cultures are often described as regionally based, nearly homogenous, rural cultures.  These societies are typically dominated by the older generation, traditional, family-based and slow to change.  Folk cultures typically rural, religious, agricultural, family-based and in a word: traditional.  This classic movie's opening is a good primer for markers of folk cultures and struggles that folk cultures have to maintain there vitality in a globalizing world.  If you continue on in the movie, the actual song Tradition is also rich in explaining how the society maintains itself.  

Tags: Russia, folk cultures, culture, music.

Danielle Lip's curator insight, February 16, 2015 7:34 PM

While watching this movie I found the over idea of tradition to be quite accurate because everyone wether they are from Russia, the United States or another country has traditions that come from many years ago. These traditions tell how the people should dress, sleep, work and eat all in the eyes of God. Traditions come from a group and then are passed on for generations, everyone has some type of tradition wether it is in their family or in another community. Tradition helps the people to gain an identity for themselves so he knows and everybody else knows who he is as well as what God expects. The main focus in this movie is not only tradition but also to please and have God in mind at all cost.

Elle Reagan's curator insight, March 22, 2015 9:18 PM

This video was nice because it had a little song that played and I thought that it showed the culture well. Before the Industrial Revolution played out, this way the way it used to be in many places. Riding horses and pulling a wooden carriage to deliver milk that had been freshly squeezed from a cow. It's funny to think that this was't that long ago and how culture can change quickly.

Bella Reagan's curator insight, May 27, 2015 12:37 AM

Unit 3 

Cultural Practices

Folk Culture

This video is the intro to a movie that shows the basis of this folk culture. It gives a good representation of the different elements of folk culture. Folk culture is made up of so many different elements. In the video there is music that begin stye culture being showcased. Then the man's attire and his environment. The infrastructures show the folk culture as well and so does the accent. 


This video revealed the elements of folk culture. It tied them all together and gave a good visual and good sound to what makes up a culture. Culture consists of so much from language, to dress, to food, to music. A video really gives a good eye into what the folk culture is like in this. 


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Pro-Natalist Policies

"No one has found out how to help Denmark's falling birth rate. Until now. Spies Travels announces a competition where you have to make a baby to win."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Not all countries are concerned about overpopulation;  Countries like Japan are in steep decline in terms of their population.    Denmark is a country that is seeking to to encourage higher fertility rates (and this travel company is using this salacious ad to promote the it and themselves, but there is some actual demographic analysis in there). Singapore's National Night was another innovative campaign to boost fertility rates (warning: the video is provocative).  Russia is also trying to boost fertility rates with a similar idea, but another major part of their strategy is to reaffirm traditional sexual norms in society.  

Tag: declining populations.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 27, 2014 10:41 AM

This shows what Pro-Natalism looks like in the 21st century. Youtube videos, and competitions that can go viral and trending. I find it interesting how these policies are trying to gain traction through video campaigns with sexy models and catchy slogans like "Do it for Demark". Population geography can be a key indicator of the characteristics of a country or nation. Denmark knows they need to counter a falling birthrate in order to stay growing this is definatly a modern way of going about that.

Lora Tortolani's curator insight, March 4, 2015 9:58 PM

Sex sells everything, even making babies!

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 10, 2015 7:03 AM

This video may be both the greatest and worst television commercial in the history of civilization. I can already imagine a do it for Rhode Island commercial airing sometime in the near future. In all seriousness, this video is aimed at an enormous issue facing Both Europe and Russia. Russia particularly, is suffering terribly. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian death rate far outpaced the Russian birth rate. The seriousness of such an issue can not be understated. A country can not survive if more people are dying, than being born. Only recently, has the birth rate caught back up to the death rate in Russia. While the death crises may be ebbing in Russia, there is no way to erase twenty years of death.

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Here are three of Russia's military options in Ukraine

Here are three of Russia's military options in Ukraine | Geography Education |
There have been a number of warnings from Kiev and Washington about the possibility of a direct and open Russian military intervention in Ukraine. But what could that look like?
Seth Dixon's insight:

I'm not saying any of these 3 scenarios are going to happen nor am I endorsing them either.  That said, this article/podcast provides a geopolitical analysis (with maps) of Russia's potential military options if they are planning on invading Ukraine. 

Tag: Ukraine, political, conflict.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 9, 2015 5:50 PM

add your insight...I feel like Russia is always up to something shady. I dont understand why Putin wants to move forces into Ukraine. The story makes it seem like the only reason he has interest is because there is a high number of Russians living there. Does not seem like a good reason to attack another country.  This smells really bad and I have a feeling something major could be on the horizon.

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, April 1, 2015 10:44 AM

Russia needs to tread lightly if they don't want to dismantle the international political progress that they have made since the fall of the Soviet Union over twenty years ago.  If they decide to manhandle and manipulate the government in Kiev, along with the rest of Ukraine, they could have an international boycott and sanction put on everything Russian.  This situation is very important, not only for Russians and Ukrainians, but globally as well.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 10, 2015 6:31 AM

Putin's military adventure into Ukraine is troubling to say the least.  Putin has made no secret about his desire to recreate the lost Soviet Empire. He is truly a dangerous man on the world stage. Generally speaking, Putin seems to favor the destabilization approach. He has yet to conquer an entire nation. By launching  destabilizing attacks, he probably hopes to create an environment of uncertainty and chaos within the invaded country. Such chaos could lead to the overthrow a anti-Russian government, and the instillation of a pro Russian government. The word will eventually have to face up to Putin.

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Soviet Bus Stops

Soviet Bus Stops | Geography Education |

"Photographer Christopher Herwig has covered more than 30,000 km by car, bike, bus and taxi in 13 countries discovering and documenting these unexpected treasures of modern art. From the shores of the Black Sea to the endless Kazakh steppe, the bus stops show the range of public art from the Soviet era and give a rare glimpse into the creative minds of the time."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a delightful glimpse into a time gone by, and what makes it even more surprising is that few would expect such creative architecture to dot the cultural landscape of the old Soviet Union.  I was recently looking at a photo gallery of old Russian Orthodox churches and just like these Soviet bus stops, they are perfect subjects for classic cultural landscape studies.  Geography students can analyze and interpret the cultural, political and economic material landscape as this photographer has.  What do these elements of the landscape mean?  How does it make us re-evaluate the society that created them?   

Tags: Russia, culture, landscape.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 9, 2015 6:04 PM

A new way to observe and appreciate architecture and creativity from a different culture.  I love the idea of the book to show how something so ordinary and overlooked in everyday society like a bus stop can be turned into works of art.  It would be cool to see this inspire other artists to turn other modern day things into cool works of art.  How awesome would this have been 20 years ago if they did things like this to phone booths?

Louis Mazza's curator insight, April 21, 2015 1:18 PM

This article is a collage of soviet bustops, which happen to be extravagant. Some of them are ancient looking made out of cement. Some have highly decorated sculptures of the sickle and hammer soviet sign. Others are large sheltered areas to protect citizens. By looking at the high scale of bustops, and large amount, it shows that the population must use a lot of bus transport. Some of these bustop are very nice looking, elegant, unique, or a distinct representation of Russian History. It is unique to see a different spin on a Bustop, something that seems so repetitive at Kennedy Plaza here in Providence.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 4:55 PM

for as monstrous as the soviet union was, they did care about appearances and the safety of their people. these bus stops show some of the wonderful aspects of soviet architecture. in addition, you can see bus stops in the middle of nowhere. this is the same mindset that made the soviets build nuclear shelters for the majority of their populace.

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Exit polls show Crimea votes for secession

Exit polls show Crimea votes for secession | Geography Education |
Russian media says exit polls show 93 percent of voters elected to join Russia, in a move the West deems illegal.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The vote wasn't a surprise, but it now means there are more questions than answers about the political future of Crimea,  both regionally and internationally (this is the U.S. State Dept's rejection of the referendum).  Also is interest is how this impacts Turkey, which feels kinship with the Crimean Tatar population.  Historically they've been Black Sea rivals and Turkey was a key NATO ally during the Cold War.  However since the fall of the the Soviet Union they've improved diplomatic relations and Turkey is reluctant to damage relations with Russia.  We all know by now that the majority of Crimean residents speak Russian as their native language, but what's the linguistic geography of Crimea look like at a at a different scale?    

Utah Geographical Alliance's curator insight, March 17, 2014 2:30 PM

Seth Dixon's insight:
The vote wasn't a surprise, but it now means there are more questions than answers about the political future of Crimea, both regionally and internationally. Also is interest is how this impacts Turkey, which feels kinship with the Crimean Tatar population. Historically they've been Black Sea rivals and Turkey was a key NATO ally during the Cold War. However since the fall of the the Soviet Union they've improved diplomatic relations and Turkey is reluctant to damage relations with Russia. We all know by now that the majority of Crimean residents speak Russian as their native language, but what's the linguistic geography of Crimea look like at a at a different scale?

Aimee Knight's curator insight, March 19, 2014 9:52 AM

While everybody argues over whether or not the referendum complies with international laws and peace treaties, we have to ask, is it right? Does one country have the right to take control of another? We teach our children not to bully one another, and then Russia goes and bullies the people of Crimea into agreeing to secede. What are we teaching people? What messages are we sending to young people by saying that this is okay?  We are spreading the word that it is okay to threaten others into cooperation. If we allow for acts such as this to go unpunished, how can we guarantee that something much worse will not be in our foreseeable future? 

BandKids13-14's curator insight, April 3, 2014 9:56 AM

Russia is just a big bully. If Crimea joins Russia will Russia want to take over other places in the Ukraine? Will they have enough power then? Why do they even want Crimea? How will they benefit if Crimea goes over to Russian power? Will the Ukraine allow Crimea to ever join Russia?


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West warns Russia amid Crimea threat

West warns Russia amid Crimea threat | Geography Education |

"Western nations have called on Russia to ease tensions in Ukraine's Crimea region after armed men seized the local parliament and raised the Russian flag."

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, March 1, 2014 12:17 AM

This article is about the rising tension in the Crimean region of Ukraine. There is a strong pro-Russian sentiment among many in this region and the recent ousting of Russia-friendly Viktor Yanukovych has caused unrest in Crimea. The former president of Ukraine was removed due to protest of his refusal to partner with European Union. These events highlight the lasting effects of the Soviet Union on Ukraine and the division it has caused in the country.

Stephen Zimmett's curator insight, March 4, 2014 1:59 PM

I've been watching this inernest. I doubt that Russia will invade any further.


Alec Castagno's curator insight, December 12, 2014 1:02 PM

Russia's has attempted to justify their recent aggression as an effort to reincorporate areas with a Russian majority, and at the request of the locals. This article shows all the other areas that are requesting a return to Russia, and shows the opposite side with all the areas under Russia that are requesting independence. It offers a counter to the Russian argument and outlines the hypocrisy of their actions.

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150 Years Ago, Sochi Was the Site of a Horrific Ethnic Cleansing

150 Years Ago, Sochi Was the Site of a Horrific Ethnic Cleansing | Geography Education |
Czar Alexander II may have freed the serfs, but his war against the stateless people of the Caucasus cannot be ignored

The czar’s approval of this rapid expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Circassians to the Ottoman Empire resulted in an ethnic cleansing through disease and drowning as overcrowded ferries crossed the Black Sea. The Ottomans were unprepared for the influx of refugees, and the absence of adequate shelter caused even more deaths from exposure. Those Circassians who attempted to remain in the Russian Empire and fight for their land were massacred. Sochi’s “Red Hill,” where the skiing and snowboarding events will take place during these Olympic Games, was the site of the Circassian last stand, where the Imperial Russian armies celebrated their “victory” over the local defenders.

Seth Dixon's insight:

I mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating.  As the international spotlight in on Sochi, our students interest in the region is also heightened.  This makes it the perfect time to shine a light on parts of history that many have conveniently tried to brush aside. 

Tags: Russia. historical, colonialism.

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 2014 8:33 PM

This is basically like a mini Holocaust. When do people think its okay to do something like this? It boggles my mind how things like this can actually go on in the world still with todays technologies and armed forces. 

Bob Beaven's curator insight, March 5, 2015 2:27 PM

This article shows the great deal of overlap between Geography and History.  Today, when people think of Sochi, they will remember the Olympic games, and the epic hockey battle between the USA and the Russian Federation.  Yet, as this article discusses, Sochi was once the sight of a military battle, and a massacre.  The Russian Empire under Alexander II wanted to expand its borders to be well defined and would wage war against the Circassians who lived in the region.  When they would not go to the Ottoman Empire, and fought the Russians, the army and the Czar were prepared to fight them.  As a result, on Red Hill, the native people had a last stand against the Russian Army and were massacred.  Yet, the southern region of Russia near the middleast, to this day, is not secure.  The history of this region has guaranteed that the people living in these regions of the country would come to loathe Russia.  In fact, this area in the form of Chechnya, has exported the hatred and Islamic fervor of the region, to the United States in the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013.  History and Geography are not neat boxes that are separate from each other, they are always influencing one another in all actuality. 

Calem Cauley's curator insight, April 7, 10:16 AM
I didn't know how ruthless this leader was. At the little lest threat the czar would fight them and demolish them. 
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Security Still A Major Concern In Sochi

ESPN Video: Jeremy Schaap details the threats to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Seth Dixon's insight:

It's not everyday that ESPN will use terms like insurgency, region, state, suicide bombs, attacks, threats, heightened security, terrorists and black widows during a video clip, but when they do it's worth paying attention to the geographic context of their story.  Here is an additional NY Times interactive, also on the geopolitical context of Sochi.

Tags: sport, political, conflict, devolution, Russia.

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 2014 2:14 PM

Security is a major concern in Sochi! There have been suicide bombers and many other forms of bomb threats. The athletes are under MAX security and in my opinion need to be because they are in danger because of the way their society is over there and the current issues they have been dealing or not dealing with.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 2014 2:57 PM

The Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia concern many across the globe. Located very close to neighboring terrorists, Olympic athletes question whether it is safe to go or not. ESPN discusses the concerns, threats and  increase of security at the games this year. 

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 2014 8:29 PM

The Olympic games only come around every four years. From a spectators point of view, these games are a worldwide phenomenon. Millions of people will be watching them from home and in attendance in Sochi. Threats against HUGE events like these need to be taken seriously. Whether or not they are realistic, with so many lives in potential danger Russia needs to take the threats seriously.

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Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever

Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever | Geography Education |
As the country risks becoming a failed state, Kiev must recognise that economic survival depends on Moscow not the west
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a politically inflammatory title for an op-ed article, given the recent Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.  Regions and economic regional linkages form and continually reform.  Our most likely business partners aren't necessarily our best friends.      


Tags: op-ed, economic, regions, UkraineRussia.  

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Putin fills another U.S. leadership void in Nagorno-Karabakh

Putin fills another U.S. leadership void in Nagorno-Karabakh | Geography Education |
Russia exploits a conflict in Azerbijan’s breakaway region while Washington watches.


On April 1, an obscure conflict in Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh nearly devolved back into full-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Transatlantic leaders called for an end to the violence and for redoubled efforts to settle the underlying political conflict but did little else. Russian President Vladimir Putin, by contrast, launched decisive actions to shore up Russia’s international reputation and pull Armenia and Azerbaijan away from the West.


TagsArmenia, political, war, borders, political, geopolitics, Central AsiaAzerbaijanRussia.

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In Russia, Epiphany Comes With A Shockingly Cold Swim

In Russia, Epiphany Comes With A Shockingly Cold Swim | Geography Education |

"Thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church marked Epiphany in January with a dip in freezing waters blessed by a cleric. Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ and the revelation of God as a human being in his form. Much like a baptism, the icy plunge is considered a purifying act of faith."

Seth Dixon's insight:

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 as explained in this NPR podcast.  This religious tradition is particularly well-suited to the environmental conditions of the religious adherents (since 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.    


Tags: Russia, religionChristianity, culture

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Russia and the Curse of Geography

Russia and the Curse of Geography | Geography Education |
Want to understand why Putin does what he does? Look at a map.

As things stand, Putin, like Russian leaders before him, likely feels he has no choice but to at least try to control the flatlands to Russia’s west. So it is with landscapes around the world—their physical features imprison political leaders, constraining their choices and room for maneuver. These rules of geography are especially clear in Russia, where power is hard to defend, and where for centuries leaders have compensated by pushing outward.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Calling this environmental determinism might be a stretch but so is some of the vocabulary (I take it with a grain of salt because the analysis is sound).  This article though certainly puts Russia's physical geography at the forefront of the geopolitical analysis of Russia's move's in both Syria and Ukraine.  Their strategic interests become much more comprehensible in light of their geographic challenges

Tags: UkraineRussia, geopoliticspolitical.

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, November 25, 2015 9:41 AM

The majority of politicians around the world, from what I've seen through debates and rallies are fabricated speeches by politicians for the outcome of gaining more votes. I personally don't trust any politician. When it comes to power, politicians will do what ever it takes to use their power and make it stronger. Of course each politician wants their community and their country to be successful and grand. In this post it looks like Putin wants to control lands in Russia's west because he see's potential and possibilities for his country.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 7:11 PM

This reminds me of the reason Russia fought Afganistan because it wanted to expand its borders especially if Russia could get control of the Wakhan corridor

Diana Morey's curator insight, February 11, 9:24 AM

good reading for political geography

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Road from Europe to U.S.? Russia proposes superhighway

Road from Europe to U.S.? Russia proposes superhighway | Geography Education |
London to New York City by car? It could happen if the head of Russian Railways has his way.
Seth Dixon's insight:

As Asya Pereltsvaig, the author of Languages of the World, wrote: "That's what happens when Russia's main problems, fools and roads (дураки и дороги), are combined..."  It's the opposite idea of the summer road trip that is designed to hit all the major tourist sites.


Questions to Ponder: What are the pros and cons of this project?  What would it take to actually happen?  This map is a Mercator Projection--would a different map change your perspective on the feasibility of the project? 

TagsRussia, map projections, transportation, tourism.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 29, 2015 7:07 PM

okay one of the pros is if you are retired and love RV driving then fine there is some sightseeing to do instead of just states you can see countries. Also tolls could help pay for the roads, but who decides when to fix their side of the road when something needs fixing do you have an association fee and meetings to force another country to fix there part of the road. With terrorists acts going on this would be a great thing for road blocks. which oil companies get to set up their gas stations Exxon Mobil like up and down 95. or other big corporations. imagine McDonald and Burger King all along the roads and convenience stores all along. Rest stops all along. Oh wait a minute Americans do not like to even drive to another state because its to far who in their right mind is going to drive 12000 miles, what about road fatalities. Bad weather conditions, snow plows, etc... forget it I,m tired this article Drove me crazy.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 4:51 PM

this would be a fantastic idea. i cannot wait for the day when it is possible for someone to drive from one continent to the other. it would be fantastic if this was possible, and I'm sure it would do wonders for trade, tourism, and travel of all sorts.

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, December 18, 2015 3:27 AM

A fascinating article reminding me of the trans Siberian railroad. While certainly it would have great economic benefits it would come with great costs. the trans Siberian railroad was only possible because of near slave labor conditions. The economic benefits of this may outweigh the risk but since this goes through several countries and could adversely affect the economies of other the project will likely remain dream for now. In addition roads and cars unless automated are becoming inefficient and slow. The best alternative to such a vast project going through multiple climates would be a bullet train that could go at high speeds from one spot to another. Furthermore with such a large area environmental impacts would have to be addressed as well as potential pollution concerns.

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Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

"Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.
Related Article:"

Seth Dixon's insight:

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today. 

2013 update: The paper plant is now officially closed  


Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 29, 2015 7:16 PM

I can relate to this article seeing my research article is about Lake Baikal. You are right it is a bit outdated but most of the 2000 people who have lost their jobs are receiving help from the state even if it is short term. The people who have important skills are being relocated while others are given some other form of training. Others are waiting  for something to open up while in the meantime they are raising chickens and farming. There could be a bright side in the future economically as there has been talk about building a Russian type Disneyland which could produce income and jobs for people. The problem is there is a lot of environmental liquid waste to clean up which is cost effective. But it could attract investors in the future.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 1:34 PM

i feel like the problem of choosing between economic problems and environmental problem, deciding which is more important, happens all over the world. especially in this case where the people of baikal where there actually are no other jobs. in situations like this you have to decide if keeping those people alive now is more important than worrying about the environment in the future.

BrianCaldwell7's curator insight, April 5, 8:15 AM

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today. 

2013 update: The paper plant is now officially closed.   


Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.

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The Putin Factor: Russia, America and the Geopolitics of Ukraine

The Putin Factor: Russia, America and the Geopolitics of Ukraine | Geography Education |

"President Obama came into office promising a 'reset' in U.S.-Russia relations. Six years later, the reset, for all intents and purposes, is dead."

Seth Dixon's insight:

A more informed, globally aware citizenry helps to strengthen U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic efforts; we need citizens with a spatial framework within which to organize political, environmental, cultural and economic information.  This interview with political science professor Michael McFaul is a great introduction to understanding Russia, Putin and today's most pressing geopolitical issue.    

Tags: Russia, Ukraine, geopoliticspolitical.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, February 19, 2015 3:40 PM

Russian-American Relations are always an interesting thing to talk about because of the nations' histories in relation to one another.  It is interesting how Putin views America, in the fact that he thinks that we function like Russia without a strong legislative branch and no freedom of the press.  Putin also seeks to, in a way, rebuild the USSR of old by taking his neighbors over (or having them "join" the Eurasian Economic Region).  The article does point out that tensions from the Russian incursions into the Ukraine won't result in Cold War Era tensions because Putin welcomes American investment, and also Russia is more of a regional power than a world power.  While Russia is a regional power, they are still a very strong and threatening force, and as the article points out, they are not afraid of using their strength to get their way.  Russia, although not as strong as the old USSR, is still a concern for the NATO nations of Europe, as it shows a revived Russian spirit, and Putin is not afraid of using force to get what he wants for the country.


David Lizotte's curator insight, February 27, 2015 5:04 PM

Its interesting reading an article written June 5, 2014 about Russia and the Ukraine. There has been an escalation of events since the article. This article was neat in how it gives the reader a more sound perception of Putin. Mind you though, the source was an American Ambassador to Russia, so he may be a bit biased, although he does a good job covering it throughout the interview. If he had a disagreement or judgment about Putin he said it. Its likely McFaul's ideologies would differ no matter what due to being of Western Influence and Putin... well Putin being Russia. None the less McFaul gave a professional and well-rounded/structured interview in answering the questions in detail. 

I believe Putin truly does believe in a Russia of old coming back under his regime. The past few years have certainly made a good case for that argument. A major country just taking territory from another seems outlandish. Since this article has come out there have been more advancements made into the Ukraine thus spilling bloodshed. Russian backed rebels have been slowly taking important towns and transport hubs in Eastern Ukraine. A ridiculous part of this is Putin claiming Russia is not backing the Rebels/Separatists by providing military and intelligence. Of course he is. Its clear he and his government are more than involved. 

As Russia moves more eastward it does raise the question; what exactly is there endgame? Its scary reading McFaul's opinion being Putin not truly knowing what he wants/how to proceed. Putin is usually very blunt about what he wants, yet in this case no one knows what Putin wants, probably not even Putin. Perhaps since the writing of the article Putin has formed more of a general idea/goal... In any case it is interesting to watch the events unfold. 

There was a conference of some sort just a week or two ago. The President of France, Prime Minister of Germany and Putin negotiated a seize fire and troops from both sides of the battle to pull back. There was still bloodshed after the specified seized arms agreement. This was a reminder of the first agreement made in September and just ignored by the rebels.

Personally I believe Putin to not care about what the west thinks. Rather he wants to keep pushing the limits. Putin wants to become a dominant powerhouse economic force. He also seems to wish for more physical land, like the Russia of old. The more he can have the better. As stated Putin seems to be testing the Western countries. He had no problem ignoring peace deals. He kept moving westward and in the end there are still no Western Military, just Ukrainian troops. The U.S. was not strong in opinion and neither was the U.K.

Sanctions have hurt Russia's economy but they are still finding there way around it. With that being said, Western countries such as Germany for instance have also been hurt economically by the sanctions. Some countries export a lot of goods to Russia, they now can't. This shows what happens when Russia doesn't play nice. They get cut off and other suffer from the consequences as well. But from Russia's perspective they are still claiming more land from the Ukraine. Also, with all this being said Russia is reaching out to week countries whom are criticized within the EU. For example Greece and Hungary, and the island country Cyprus. Russia is working with Cyprus on the debt situation and in return docking naval ships off the coast of Cyprus. No matter the reasoning its the same outcome...Russia is moving westward.

As of now (as in me writing this scoop) there has been 24 hours of non-violence in the Eastern Ukraine. That has not happened in a very long time. But no one truly knows what the Russian backed Separatists/Putin are thinking. They've been winning so far so why stop. All I have to say is don't sleep on Russia.   

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 7, 2015 2:37 PM

"The Bear of the East Strikes Again." It feels like news of Russian military intervention in Ukraine should be a news story of the 80's, and yet it continues to hit headlines as information is leaked of continued aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Why this sudden aggression? Geography of course! The Crimea is a vital seaport, allowing a large, international port in the Mediterranean- something that Russia has craved since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Eastern Ukraine is one of the richest areas in the world in terms of raw materials and industrial centers, which could prove to be vital additions to the Russian economy (if Western sanctions don't inflate the ruble any more than they already have). Despite this authoritarian approach to his foreign affairs, it is Putin accuses the Ukrainian government of fascist tendencies- and of attacking ethnic Russians currently residing in Ukraine. Not only is this laughable in the sense that Ukraine is not only a democracy, but there has been no history of violence between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians in the country, but also when one considers the attacks on Russian homosexuals within Putin's own borders. Putin has disregarded international law for his own purposes, the first time a major power has done so since the world was a lot "colder," and it will be interesting (and terrifying) to see how he proceeds. My heart goes out to the Ukrainians still engaging in guerrilla warfare along their Eastern border.

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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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Take Me Home, Mother Russia

Take Me Home, Mother Russia | Geography Education |
10 places that would welcome a Putin landgrab, and 10 parts of Russia that want the hell out.
Seth Dixon's insight:

One of the ideological weaknesses in the idea that Russia should annex Crimea because of the large number of ethnic Russians that want to join the Russian Federation, is that there are many places within the Russian Federation without a majority of ethnic Russians that would want out of the Russian Federation.  This list from Foreign Policy is pretty intriguing and they provide insight about the geographic context for each place on the list.

Top 10 looking for a way into Russia (abbreviated)

  1. Transnistria
  2. Donbass
  3. New Russia
  4. Abkhazia
  5. South Ossetia
  6. Belarus
  7. Northern Kazakhstan
  8. Russians in the Baltic
  9. Nagorno Karabakh
  10. Brighton Reach, Brooklyn

Top 10 look for a way out of Russia:

  1. Chechnya
  2. Tatarstan
  3. Idel-Ural
  4. Kalmykia
  5. Kaliningrad
  6. Karelia
  7. Komi Republic
  8. Circassia
  9. Karachay-Balkaria
  10. Birobizhan
Kevin Barker's curator insight, March 22, 2014 10:03 AM

For every argument to aquire land based on ethnic boundaries, there is at least one that would argue land should be lost. This would apply to essentially any country in the world. 

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 10:57 AM

In the recent light of the Crimea annexation and following conflict, many are questioning what Russia's next move will be and how this region may change in the future.  The former USSR encomassed a huge amount of land, and therefore many different ethnic groups.  Of course this has always been a problem, and this article illustrates how it probably always will be a problem.  As politics and cultures in different countries change, people will favor either secession or affiliation due to these centripetal or centrifugal forces .  While some may be far-fetched (Siberia and Brooklyn), it is important to remember that as long as there are some people who are in favor, there may be conflict at same scale.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, March 5, 2015 2:43 PM

This article is interesting because it shows that as Russia could potentially gain land, it could also lose parts of the country as well.  I thought the Brooklyn Beach point was funny due to Putin's argument that wherever Russians live should be Russia (Crimea).  I don't think the United States would ever let this happen though, even if it is just a single part of NY, the US would never let Russia back onto the North American Continent after buying Alaska from them back in the 1800s.  I also thought it was an intriguing point to state that China could try to make a move at getting Siberia from Russia.  I personally don't think that Russia would willingly give up a resource rich region of its nation to China easily, and if China wanted to buy the region, I'd bet Putin would make them pay a pretty penny for the area.  The fact that Russia is such a varied nation, especially in the south of the nation, is not surprising due to winning the land from the Ottomans, and the best thing Russia could do, in the case of Chechnya would be to let them go.  This way the country could achieve a lasting peace, rather than always fighting campaigns against the region, which as a result, will make the people hate the Russian government even more.  However, I do not think Putin will allow his country to decrease in size, Putin only wants increases.

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Ukraine’s leader urges Putin to pull back troops

Ukraine’s leader urges Putin to pull back troops | Geography Education |
Ukraine's interim prime minister says the country is "on the brink of disaster."
Seth Dixon's insight:

Many observers fear that Russia's military control of the Crimea could lead to more centrifugal forces in the region.  In response, pundits are discussing what the U.S. response should be; clearly this will be a major issue for the Obama administration.

Linda Alexander's comment, March 3, 2014 9:29 AM
We've been asleep at the wheel while the genocide goes on in Syria and Russia blocks UN action. Well, this is the outcome...Putin acts as though no one will blink. Shameful.
Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 2014 9:50 AM

That this could happen at all in this day and age just goes to show that the Cold War may be over but Russia is still flexing its muscles.  As a child of the 1980s, this turn of events frightens me.  I lived my childhood with the fear that there could be a nuclear war at any time always in the back of my mind.  Younger people just don’t understand what it was like living during the cold war and perhaps poo-poo it a bit too much.  But the threat was always there and it was something that was real and did not lesson until the fall of the Soviet Union.  The fact that this event has occurred just brings up the old fears and memories of the tensions between America and the USSR.  I hope that a solution can be found that doesn’t hurt the Ukrainian people.

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, March 5, 2014 4:41 PM

Crimea has been a region whee Russian traditions have been strong throughout the years and will continue t stay strong but if Putin is going to be the President who decides that he wants to isrupt part of Europe by putting the Ukraine and Russia against eachother on a battle field then there are going to be some drastic differences and not just in Crimea.

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Military industrial complex: These 15 countries have the largest defense budgets

Military industrial complex: These 15 countries have the largest defense budgets | Geography Education |
World defense spending is expected to go up for the first time in five years, thanks to China and Russia.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The top 3 shouldn't come as any big surprises, but there might be a few farther on down the list though that might raise some eyebrows.  There are specific geopolitical, historic, economic and cultural rationales for each of these countries that explain why they are on this list, and discussing those reasons is a conversation would having. 

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 2014 1:32 PM

Russia is the third highest goverment military that spends around 143 million people lived in Russia in 2012 and they spent around $475 per person on it's military. Russia compared to China and the US is another story the US is number one in who spent the most on their military forces at $600.4 billion. As far as China is concerened it comes in at number two at spending around  $112.2 billion. These numbers make sense especially for the power house that China is and how their values of militarism affect their spending and their way of society/life.

Edgar Manasseh Jr.'s curator insight, March 7, 2015 10:00 PM

Wow looking at all these defense military budgets show why some economies are not producing well, but at the same time its astonishing how much money is spent protecting homelands. It will grow in the next 5 years, and hopefully i'll be around to see what has changed who has taken the top position because i feel as if their will be a shift in the tides.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 9, 2015 6:10 PM

Not surprised at many names on the list, but am surprised at The US figure, how much it costs per American, and at the gap between The US and China.  Its scary to see some of the names on the list though and wonder if they are using that money for defense, or an offensive attack.

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Why Sochi?

Why Sochi? | Geography Education |
Why would Vladimir Putin want to host the Olympics in an underdeveloped place where terrorists lurk nearby? The answer is not as complicated as it may seem.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This article is an excellent explanation of the geopolitical significance of holding the Olympic Games in Sochi.  Geographer Carole McGranahan writes critically about the location of the Olympics given Putin's policies in the Caucasus Mountains (especially in regard to the 2008 invasion of Georgia to protect Russian interests in South Ossetia).  Additionally, here is a link from Stratfor discussing the shifting foreign policy concerns of the United States towards Russia.

Tags: sport, political, conflict, devolution, Russia.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 2014 2:52 PM

There are many reasons as to why the Olympics this year are held in Sochi, Russia i. Although it is an underdeveloped, terrorist driven area, it holds much potential and Vladimir Putin has reasons to why it is the perfect place.

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, March 1, 2014 12:59 AM

This article explains why Putin wanted the Winter Olympic games to be in Sochi. The Olympics have historically been used as a way for a nation to showcase progress or power, and the case is no different here. By hosting the games in Sochi, Putin was drawing attention to his successful crushing of the Chechen rebels and Russia's reinvestment into the area. Through the games, Putin is trying to make an international statement about the security and progress in this war-torn area. Still, there are a number of Chechen rebel cells and Circassian protesters in the area with a grudge against Russia.

Patty B's curator insight, April 29, 5:23 PM
This article seeks to answer why Putin deemed Sochi a viable spot to host the Olympic games. A war-torn, violent, dangerous, and desolate area, Sochi looked like one of the last places on Earth on would want to host the games. It seemed like the type of place other countries did not want to travel to. It was the type of place foreign fans did not feel safe walking around the streets of. But Putin saw the Olympics as a chance to reverse all of the negative aspects surrounding Sochi. In fact, the Olympic games have often served as a crutch for struggling nations to use to generate economic growth and to essentially turn things around a complete 180 degrees. Sochi, in Putin's eyes, was just that type of place. He believed Sochi needed the Olympics, and in a way, the Olympics and the world needed Sochi to be the host. In Putin's eyes, the games would have brought unity to the war-torn area. But, despite the Olympics helping countries of the past do so, Sochi remained as violent as before.