Be a part of the Tower of London’s major centenary commemoration for the outbreak of the First World War.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Be a part of the Tower of London’s major centenary commemoration for the outbreak of the First World War.
The news of this art installation this summer captivated the media. Art transforms the place, and the place breaths additional layers of meaning into the work of art. The result was an highly evocative and poignant landscape created to be a living reminder of multiple historical events and the wounds that war can inflict on a national consciousness.
"This 18-stanza poem by Kit Salter, beautifully captures the importance of geographic thinking in any history/social studies curriculum. This was shared by Dr. Vernon Domingo and the slides of his keynote address titled, Integrating Geography and History are available here."
It was my privilege to hear my good friend and fellow geo-evangelist, Dr. Vernon Domingo recently as he shared ideas on the importance of integrating geographic analysis in historical inquiry. He shared a fabulous poem by Kit Salter, one of the pioneers in the Network of Geographic Alliances. I'll only share the first stanza here:
How can there be a separate scene,
For history without place
How can there be events in time,
For which there is no space?
"Have you heard of Alexander von Humboldt? Not likely. The geologist turned geographer and South American explorer was a bit of an 18th century super scientist, traveling over 24,000 miles to understand the relationship between nature and habitat. George Mehler details Humboldt’s major accomplishments and why we should care about them today. See this TED ED lesson plan that accompanies the video."
Alexander von Humboldt has been described as the last great ancient geographer concerned with understanding an eclectic cosmography as well as the first modern geographer. He is honored far and wide throughout Latin America and Europe, but given that intellectually people are confused as how to categorize him and classify his contributions, today he is under-appreciated. Geographers need to reclaim his memory and call his extensive, globetrotting work on a wide range of subjects 'geography.'
"In the years after the attacks of September 11, debates about how the United States should respond to the threat of terrorism remain of central importance. The death of Osama bin Laden, the rise of 'homegrown' terrorists, and the use of drones to kill suspected terrorists pose new questions and challenges for policy makers and citizens. Responding to Terrorism: Challenges for Democracy helps students consider the issues surrounding the 9.11.01 attacks and the U.S. response to terrorism in a constructive context that promotes dialogue about future policy directions."
This video paired with this lesson plan from the Choices Program will help students explore the human dimension of the September 11 attacks as will this lesson from Teaching History. For a geospatial perspective on 9-11, this page from the Library of Congress, hosted by the Geography and Map Division is a visually rich resources (aerial photography, thermal imagery, LiDAR, etc.) that show the extent of the damage and the physical change to the region that the terrorist attacks brought. The images from that day are a part of American memory and change how the event is remembered and memorialized in public spaces. Also on global terrorism, the Choices Program has also produced some materials on how to teach about ISIS as a new emerging geopolitical threat.
"Nothing unites different nations quite like mutual enemies. But the 'Auld Alliance' between Scotland and France - both historic rivals of England - doesn't mean that the French government favours Scottish independence. Far from it."
Historically, France has supported greater autonomy or independence as a way to limit English political power and influence. However in the era of the E.U. and greater regional integration, modern geopolitics makes this old alliance untenable as some in Scotland are seeking independence from the United Kingdom.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
"This cool new historic mapping app from the folks at esri and the U.S. Geological Survey is worth exploring. What it does is take 100 years of USGS maps and lets you overlay them for just about any location in the nation. That allows users to see how a city – say Harrisburg – developed between 1895 and today. The library behind the project includes more than 178,000 maps dating from 1884 to 2006."
For more ESRI maps that let you explore urban environmental change, the 'spyglass' feature gives these gorgeous vintage maps a modern facelift (but not available for as many places). The cities that are in this set of interactive maps are:
"This animation distils hundreds of years of culture into just five minutes. A team of historians and scientists wanted to map cultural mobility, so they tracked the births and deaths of notable individuals like David, King of Israel, and Leonardo da Vinci, from 600 BC to the present day. Using them as a proxy for skills and ideas, their map reveals intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble. The information comes from Freebase, a Google-owned database of well-known people and places, and other catalogues of notable individuals. The team is based at the University of Texas at Dallas."
This video has garnered a lot of academic and mainstream attention--while I wouldn't describe in as the Entire History of Human Culture in 5 minutes as the Huffington Post did, it is a stellar visualization that uses big data and was created with some solid academic research. Hierarchical diffusion patterns are powerfully depicted in this video created by Nature as are other geographic concepts such as urban settlement patterns (e.g.-primate cities and rank-size rule in Europe).
These maps are crucial for understanding the region's history, its present, and some of the most important stories there today.
Titles like the one for this article, 40 maps that explain the Middle East, are becoming increasingly common for internet articles. They helps us feel that we can explain all of the world's complexities and make sense of highly dynamic situations. While we can all agree that maps are great analytical tools that can be very persuasive, sometimes we can pretend that they are the end all, be all for any situation. Maps can also be used to show how something that we thought was simple can be much complex and nuanced than we had previously imagined, as demonstrated by this article, 15 Maps that Don't Explain the Middle East at All. Both perspectives have their place (and both articles are quite insightful). Not connected to the Middle East, but East Asia, this article entitled Lies, Damned Lies and Maps continues the discussion of maps, truth and perception.
"More Americans came into contact with maps during World War II than in any previous moment in American history. From the elaborate and innovative inserts in the National Geographic to the schematic and tactical pictures in newspapers, maps were everywhere. On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland, and by the end of the day a map of Europe could not be bought anywhere in the United States. In fact, Rand McNally reported selling more maps and atlases of the European theaters in the first two weeks of September than in all the years since the armistice of 1918. Two years later, the attack on Pearl Harbor again sparked a demand for maps."
Today's drought-riven west would look very different if Congress had listened to John Wesley Powell
Author of Mapping the Nation, Susan Schulten explains how western expansion failed to recognize the basic physical geographic reality of the United States--that the west is much drier than the east. Given that much of the west, especially California, is in the midst of a severe drought, this article serves as a reminder to recognize that localized understandings of human and environmental actions are necessary. Do you know what watershed you live in? How does and should that impact us?
This interactive map, produced by University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt to accompany his new book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887. As blue “Indian homelands” disappear, small red areas appear, indicating the establishment of reservations (above is a static image of the map; visit the map's page to play with its features).
In the past I've shared maps that show the historic expansion of the United States--a temporal and spatial visualization of Manifest Destiny. The difference with this interactive is that the narrative focuses on the declining territory controlled by Native Americans instead of the growth of the United States. That may seem a minor detail, but how history is told shapes our perception of events, identities and places.
The division between Islam's Shiite minority and the Sunni majority is deepening across the Middle East. The split occurred soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, nearly 1,400 years ago.
The ghosts of religious wars past are rattling in Iraq; The geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics. This NPR podcast examines the historical and religious aspects of this split to then analyze the political and cultural implications in the Middle East today. Additionally this Pew Research article highlights the 5 countries where the the majority of Muslims are Shiite, with some good demographic data to add to the analysis.
Today's volume of immigrants, in some ways, is a return to America’s past.
The source of migrants today has changed the cultural composition of the United States from what is was 100 years ago. Cultures are not static and migration is one of the key drivers of change. These maps produced by the Pew Research Center. Despite what media reports would have you believe, immigration into the United States is not on the rise, but maps such as these can be construed to imagine that there is a flow of immigrant coming from south of the border. The reality is that migration from Mexico to the United States has steadily dropped since 1999.
"With modern technology, a global exchange of goods and ideas can happen at the click of a button. But what about 2,000 years ago? Shannon Harris Castelo unfolds the history of the 5,000-mile Silk Road, a network of multiple routes that used the common language of commerce to connect the world's major settlements, thread by thread."
This TED-ED lesson was produced in part by an AP Human Geography teacher and the strands of geographic thought in this video are evident. More geographers should make their own TED ED lessons; thanks for blazing the trail Shannon!
"About 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers, aided by rudimentary agriculture, moved to semi-permanent villages and never looked back. With further developments came food surpluses, leading to commerce, specialization and, many years later with the Industrial Revolution, the modern city. Vance Kite plots our urban past and how we can expect future cities to adapt to our growing populations."
This TED-ED lesson briefly summarizes the history of urban development and the technological advances that enable it. Towards the end of the video they offer some suggestions that would make cities more sustainable as urban populations continue to grow. What do you think of these suggestions?
GIS is not just for geography classes; spatial thinking and spatial data management can help students learn a variety of subjects including history. This free ebook will help history teachers to see how to unlock the power of Geographic Information Systems.
"Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past."
Brought to Europe from the New World by Spanish explorers, the lowly potato gave rise to modern industrial agriculture
The Colombian Exchange is a term that describes the most dramatic biologic transfer in history. European explorers brought animals and agricultural items from the Old World to the New and subsequently brought back items from the New World back to the Old. This exchange profoundly reshaped many societies as agricultural diffusion of the potato lead to the changes across northern Europe.
"The United Kingdom's relationship with the EU - or, in political parlance, 'Europe' - has long been one of the most divisive, emotive issues in British politics."
The beginnings of the European Union are rooted in the aftermath of WW II, with Europe exhausted from war many politicians wanted to unite European countries in a way that would make war with each other impossible. The United Kingdom, though has had a complicated with the EU, sometimes (and for certain issues) wanting greater European integration to strengthen their regional position and at other times have resisted regional collaboration for fear of losing national autonomy. This is very over-generalized, but this BBC article gives a nice historical perspective on the rocky relationship of between the two.
"Ben Schmidt, assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, has visualized the routes of 19th Century ships using publicly available data set from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The resulting image is a hauntingly beautiful image that outlines the continents and highlights the trade winds. It shows major ports, and even makes a strong visual case for the need for the Panama and Suez Canals."
"Until the Great Depression, nobody talked about 'the economy.' In a sense, it hadn't been invented yet."
This podcast is a great discussion on historical evolution of some standard economic measures; it is also a nice reminder that statistics such as GDP don't represent a tangible thing, but are a shaped by how we think about the world around us.
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.
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.
"Changes in relationships can be hard to take. The economic bond between Latin America and Spain, its biggest former colonial power, is shifting as the region’s economies mature. Despite some ruffled feathers, the evolution is positive. After two decades in which Spain amassed assets worth €145 billion ($200 billion) in Latin America, last year was the first in which Latin American companies spent more on acquiring their Spanish counterparts than the other way around."
I am hesitant to use the term post-colonial since there are theoretical constructs that use that term to embody cultural hegemonic power structures. I'm simply using it to mean "after colonialism" because the power paradigm is shifting to the former colonies.