Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
My 10 year-old daughter was looking in our atlas a while back (yes, she is my daughter) and in the encyclopedic entry of each country she started noticing that literacy rates were included. She started asking about which regions had higher and lower literacy rates. This became a teaching moment about the power of the map--I explained that all this data can be more easily accessed and seen on a map and this interactive map is what we discovered. We need to help student find the maps and data to answer their questions (and we need to make sure that they are curious enough to ask questions about the way the world works).
"It’s a good time to reflect on what truly inspires us. What gives us, as individuals, our own sense of independence? And how can we apply that sense of joyful independence to help us engage more actively and participate more readily in the world—to make it a better place, even? Cultivating a better geographical and cultural appreciation for the world, in the next generation as well as in our own, is a pretty good place to start."
With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling uses an amazing new presentation tool, Gapminder, to present data that debunks several myths about world development. Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a nonprofit that brings vital global data to life.
Here are 10 facts about poverty in Africa that demonstrate the widespread consequences of poverty that affect education, health, food consumption and more.
Poverty happens all over the world, in the United States, in Africa, South America, you name a region and there is poverty in that area. There are many myths about poverty though, and myths about regions where poverty defines the region in many people's eyes. African economies are on the rise, but there is still many struggles ahead.
I can't say I agree with all the arguments put forward in this video, it can still be a nice starting point to get students to critically analyze the ideas put forth and assess the merits of the claims being made.
One exercise that I do in many of my classes is based on this data and and outline map. I have the students map out the Human Development Index data for Central America (full global dataset here) on an outline map of the region.
Questions to Ponder: How might we be able to infer about migration within the region? Foreign investment? Political stability?
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Maragret Mead
I share this video as a part of my final lecture in world regional geography as I attempt to tie up loose ends and help my students see the global linkages and connections. Occasionally in the course of a semester where we examine global problems, it is easy to become pessimistic about the world. In spite of all our problems, the world is becoming a better place, and I share this video to emphasize that individuals still have the power to act, and are not simply things to be acted upon by larger forces. I can't change everything everywhere, but I can do something, somewhere...so do something.
Ethiopia is due to launch a light rail transit system later this year, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Social Progress Imperative creates a shared language and common goals to align different organizations and achieve greater social impact.
I think we all know that we shouldn't judge a country just by it's GDP. Economic development might be correlated with development and social progress, but the outliers are so telling. In this TED talk, we learn about a new metric designed to measure how well a society provides opportunities for communal and individual success. Having lived in Costa Rica for two years, I'm not surprised to find that Costa Rica does much better on this index than it would if we were to use GDP or HDI as a way to measure social progress and quality of life. For a more detailed look at the United States, see Geographies of Opportunity: Ranking well-being by Congressional Districts.
Questions to Ponder: How is the Social Progress Index similar to and different from the Human Development Index? What assumptions are built into the system?
China's President Xi Jinping has signed a deal with Pakistan promising $46bn (£30.7bn) of investment.
China plans to inject some $46bn - almost three times the entire foreign direct investment Pakistan has received since 2008. Many say Mr Sharif's penchant for "thinking big" and China's increasing need to control maritime trade routes may well combine to pull off an economic miracle in Pakistan.
But there are questions over Pakistan's ability to absorb this investment given its chronic problems with militancy, separatism, political volatility and official corruption.
China is worried about violence from ethnic Uighurs in its mostly Muslim north-western Xinjiang region and fears hard-line separatists could team up with Uighur militants fighting alongside members of Pakistan's Taliban.
There are many videos online showing the Maeklong Railway Market, but I'll share just a few. Clearly the 8 times a day runs like clockwork for the vendors, but as this other video shows, the 8 times a day that the trains go through the market an it becomes a tourist attraction. Locally it's called "Ta-Lad-Rom-Hoob," which means The Furled Umbrella Market. My students are usually quite shocked to see how this city market in Thailand operates and this video is a usefully 'hook' for lesson on population growth, urbanization, economic development, sustainability, megacities and city planning.
Questions to Ponder: Why does this system work in Thailand, but is inconceivable for the United States? How many spaces are single use spaces that remain empty most of the day? How does the both the train line and the market need to accommodate the other?
Three African leaders sign an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam.
85% of the Nile's water comes from the Blue Nile that originates in the Ethiopian highlands--it is the Blue Nile that Ethiopia has been working on damming since 2011. The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be located near the border with Sudan (see in Google Maps). Prior to this trilateral agreement, Egypt and Sudan received the majority of the Nile's waters because of outdated colonial-era treaties that ignored upstream riparian states. This explains why in the past, Egypt was so adamantly opposed to Ethiopia's plan fearing that their water supply with be threatened. Today though, the Egyptian President said, "We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development."
Do you know how the internet gets across the ocean? This amazing map shows every cable that makes it possible.
India is a land filled will problems and potential, due its geographic context. This regions is great for a regional geography course, that also includes a good overview of the entire South Asian region before discussing India's political situation in global affairs.
Creating and Analyzing a Binary Map: This online activity demonstrates how easy it is to master key functions in GeoFRED.
Valentines Day is this one day when one product — a red rose — is worth two or three times more than it is at any other time of the year. If a florist catches that window, he's golden. But the process of getting the roses to is fraught with risk, middlemen, crazy expense and bad weather.
India and Nigeria, not California.
Vaccinations and public health are in the news lately, mostly with a focus on the United States. But it's worth taking a look at this map Benjamin Hennig made of where children go unvaccinated on a global basis to help put things in perspective: You can see here that India (the enormous yellow blob) and Nigeria (the large light-orange blog that dominates western Africa) are the two countries that combine very large populations with low immunization rates. The Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Congo, and Ethiopia also seem like major problem spots. Clearly in most of these places the problem is a lack of financial and institutional resources rather than explicit anti-vaccine sentiment. Insofar as politics are relevant it's in terms of setting priorities.
"MyLifeElsewhere allows you to compare your home country with different countries around the world. Ever wonder what your life would be like if you were born somewhere else?"
Did you know that with 1/30th the territory of the United States, Norway still has over 25% more coastline? I didn't either until I compared Norway to the United States using My Life Elsewhere. This site is designed allow United States students to imagine how their lives might be different if they were born in a different part of the world. Students would probably die 21 years earlier if they were born in Liberia and 11 times more likely to have died in infancy. Students would be 43.8% less likely to grow up and be unemployed and have 36.3% less babies if they were born in Taiwan. This side-by-side format is a great way to help students help make these statistics real and meaningful. One major drawback: this site only allows users to compare a country to the United States. If you prefer to have students compare, say Cuba to the United Arab Emirates, I would recommend that you try If It Where My Home.
"Data is great, but working with numbers can be intimidating. We have more data than ever before that is available to us, and graphs, charts, and spreadsheets are ways that data can be shared. If that data has a spatial element to it, the best way to visualize a large dataset might just be a map."
"This map shows Human Development Index (HDI) for 169 countries in the World. The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. The HDI sets a minimum and a maximum for each dimension, called goalposts, and then shows where each country stands in relation to these goalposts, expressed as a value between 0 and 1, where greater is better. The Human Development Index (HDI) measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: health, knowledge and standard of living."
"In this Feed the Future video, narrator Matt Damon discusses the importance of increasing food production around the world and notes the importance of equipping women with the right tools, training, and technology to see as much as a 30 percent increase in food production. To feed our growing population we need to increase food production by 70 percent before 2050. Women make up the majority of the agricultural workforce in many areas of the world."
A colleague mine thought that the ideas in this video were so obvious and non-controversial, he said, "Why does this even need to be stated? Why would we exclude women from agriculture?" The simple answer is that it wouldn't need to be stated if women around the world did have equal access to resources. For many of the world's poor, this is where the rubber meets the road.
"In 2001 the world began talking about the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - as potential powerhouses of the world economy. The term was coined by economist Jim O'Neill, who has now identified the 'MINT' countries - Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey - as emerging economic giants. Here he explains why."