Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
If you don't want to hear potty talk, this is not the set of maps on linguistic geography for you...I'm just sayin', you've been forewarned. An isogloss is a line that separates regions that use different words for the same object/concept. Thing of isoglosses as linguistic contour lines...are there any swearing isoglosses? Swearing regions?
"Yesterday the United States Women’s Soccer Team defeated Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in Vancouver, claiming their third world title. The event was watched by soccer fans around the country, and was called a “ratings knockout” but couldn't come close to those drawn by men’s soccer in Brazil last summer...while some states have made great strides in reducing this gender gap, others still have great inequity that needs to be addressed to effectively celebrate and give potential American female athletes the opportunities they deserve to succeed."
"There's no question that among the world's wealthy nations, the U.S. stands out when it comes to circumcision. The WHO estimates that the overall male circumcision rate in the states is somewhere between 76 and 92 percent. Most Western European countries, by contrast, have rates less than 20 percent. But even these numbers mask considerable regional variation within countries."
The Greater Mississippi Basin is the United States' core and serves as the underpinning of its role as a global superpower. For more analysis, visit: http://...
I wouldn't use the word "core" to describe America's breadbasket, simply because of the economic core/periphery connotations. Other than that, this video highlights some aspects of U.S. regional geography that I cover every semester. 1) The United States is bi-coastal on the two most important oceans for global trade. 2) Between those coasts is a large agricultural region overlayed on the most navigable river network. These two basic facts go a long way in explaining the United States' position in global affairs.
Between rampant racial inequality and Ebola outbreaks, South African comedian Trevor Noah admits he hesitated to visit a country as underdeveloped as America.
Since social media is buzzing with the news that Trevor Noah is replacing Jon Stewart as the host of the Daily Show, I wanted to show a geographically themed clip from one of Trevor's previous correspondence pieces on the show. This clip was filmed during the height of the Ebola hysteria and Ferguson protests; the main topic is misconceptions in the United States about Africa. His life itself is a portal into mixed South African geographies.
Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in recent history. And these trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life.
A decade ago, the public was less ideologically consistent than it is today. In 2004, only about one-in-ten Americans were uniformly liberal or conservative across most values. Today, the share who are ideologically consistent has doubled: 21% express either consistently liberal or conservative opinions across a range of issues – the size and scope of government, the environment, foreign policy and many others.
"Fantasy cartography: An animated redrawing of the map of Europe.
Imagine a world in which countries could move as easily as people. A suggestion for a rearranged Europe."
FEMA has coined a "Waffle House Index" to indicate the severity of a disaster.
A proxy variable is an easily measurable variable that is used in place of a variable that cannot be measured or is difficult to measure. The proxy variable can be something that is not of any great interest itself, but has a close correlation with the variable of interest. So if you can't order waffles after a big storm at Waffle House might not matter in the big scheme of things, but as this podcast demonstrates, it is a good indicator that the region has been serious impacted by a natural disaster--they are the canary in the coal mine that FEMA is using to help plan their relief efforts. This is in part because Waffle House's core area is in the South and is has a wide spatial network.
"I am torn about how to teach these two ideas about cultures and societies all around the world:
These points may seem like a contradiction, but when put into proper context they teach important truths about culture."
I've posted several resources here about some of the intriguing cultural interactions in the Middle East stemming from globalization. I thought there was some excellent public dialog after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, but I was disheartened by some of prejudiced responses that I've heard since then--that inspired me to pull some of them together in this this article I wrote for National Geographic Education.
This 12 question quiz is a great way to introduce students to spatial patterns of agricultural products in the United States. Sometimes just knowing regional stereotypes can be helpful, but being able to make an educated guess about where an agricultural product is comes from requires a basic understanding of economic and climate patterns. This quiz is a good way to test that knowledge and introduce them to these spatial patterns.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia passed away on Jan 23rd and has been replaced by King Salman. What does that mean for Saudi Arabia? What will it mean for the region? The Plaid Avenger has the answers (here are the links for part 2 and part 3).
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?
“The Midwest is this big nebulous part of the country and it's kind of what's left over after all the other regions of the country are defined. Those regions have much stronger identities if you think of the East Coast or maybe New England or the Pacific Northwest or certainly the South. The Midwest is kind of the catchall for what's left. We [Minnesota] should be called the North.”
Whether I agree or not with the ideas being discussed, I simply love that this discussion is taking place and how intensely geographical the ideas and evidences being brought forward are.
Questions to Ponder: So what region do you live in? What defines that region? Are there other regions that you can claim to be a part of also? How would you divide the United States into various regions? How come?
"This program, Boundaries and Borderlands, introduces the case study approach of the course. Here we examine the borderland region between the regions of North America and Latin America. The first case study, Twin Cities, Divided Lives, follows the story of Concha Martinez as she crosses between the U.S. and Mexico in order to make a life for herself and her children. The second case study, Operation Hold the Line, follows up the question of cross-border migration raised in the first program. It takes a look at how U.S. border policy is shaping the lives of not only the people living in this borderland region, but in more distant U.S. and Mexican locations as well."
This is a not a new resource and I know that many of you are familiar with it, but this is worth repeating for those not familiar with the Annenberg Media's "Power of Place" video series. With 26 videos (roughly 30 minutes each) that are regionally organized, this be a great resource for geography teachers that need either a regional of thematic case-study video clip.
Toporopa is compilation of different games and app for secondary students to review their geographic knowledge of geography, and learn new concepts in a fun and entertaining way. It does reinforce the 'encyclopedic' view of geography education, but the games are well-crafted and available in most of the major languages of the European Union. See a Spanish-language review of the site here.
"Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers. Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers."
"If ever there was a demonstration of the power of science, it is the course of the fight billed 'Mankind v AIDS'. Until 1981 the disease (though already established in parts of Africa) was unknown to science. Within a decade it passed from being seen as primarily a threat to gay men, and then to promiscuous heterosexuals, to being a plague that might do to some parts of Africa what the Black Death did to medieval Europe. But now, though 1.6m people a year still die of it, that number is on a downward trajectory, and AIDS rarely makes the headlines any more. How was this achieved? The answer has two parts: sound science and international co-operation."
The Ebola epidemic has dominated headlines recently. In their haste, it has been lost on that media the scary medical story of the 20th century (AIDS) that was going to doom Africa is now a success story. Some of the stories about Ebola have treated Africa as one monolithic place--Africa is not a single story.
How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
The recent Newsweek Cover showing a Chimpanzee for the article, Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola's Back Door to America, has received a lot of criticism for being factually inaccurate, but also for it's portrayal of Africa that taps into deep-rooted cultural anxieties about Africa in United States. Western writers have use many cultural conventions to talk about "the Dark Continent" stemming from a long colonial tradition. Africa had been developing rapidly in the last decade and how Ebola fares seems to be a referendum on the continent for many cultural commentators. This great Washington Post article is less about Ebola, but uses the outbreak to analyze how we think about Africa, and sometimes it isn't a pretty reflection. The Ebola outbreak is teaching us how we perceive Africa as much as it is about Africa itself.
Why knowing where countries are in Africa matters for how the rest of the world thinks about Ebola.
Cultural and media norms that often refer to Africa as one entity rather than an 11.7 million-square-mile land mass comprised of 54 countries and over 1.1 billion people who speak over 2,000 different languages. This cultural confusion means that, when a dangerous virus like Ebola breaks out, Americans who are used to referring to “Africa” as one entity may make mistakes in understanding just how big of a threat Ebola actually is, who might have been exposed to it, and what the likelihood of an individual contracting it might be. This Ebola outbreak is wreaking havoc on African economies beyond the three most heavily affected by Ebola, and that damage is completely avoidable. The East and Southern African safari industry provides a good example. Bookings for safaris there — including for the famed Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania — have plummeted due to the Ebola outbreak. These actions are based in fear, not reality.
Geo-literacy is so critical; our level of geo-literacy shapes our framework for organizing global information. Currently, two or three countries face the very real risk of becoming failed states as Ebola ravages them; but painting with such a broad brush that Africa as all one region leads someone to think that all 54 African countries are equally at risk as if they all have the same geographic context.
"More than 168 million Americans now live in states where marriage for same-sex couples is legal following the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to not hear five states’ appeals. That number represents about 53.17 percent of the U.S. population, according to data from the Census Bureau and visualized on the map above."
UPDATE: As of November 20, 2014 this is now the new map of same-sex marriage in the United States. Notice that all the states that oppose same-sex marriage are part of one single, territorially contiguous block of states. How come that is the spatial pattern for this issue?
"Religious scholar Reza Aslan took some serious issue on CNN Monday night with Bill Maher‘s commentary about Islamic violence and oppression. Maher ended his show last Friday by going after liberals for being silent about the violence and oppression that goes on in Muslim nations. Aslan said on CNN that Maher’s arguments are just very unsophisticated. He said these 'facile arguments' might sound good, but not all Muslim nations are the same. Aslan explained that female mutilation is an African problem, not a Muslim one, and there are Muslim-majority nations where women are treated better and there are even female leaders."
There are far too many oversimplifications when people throw around the terms "Muslim-majority countries" and this video shows that a more nuanced understanding is needed. That being said, it would be naive to pretend as though Islam today were without some structural problems. As stated in the linked article, "In 2013, of the top 10 groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks, seven were Muslim. Of the top 10 countries where terrorist attacks took place, seven were Muslim-majority. Of the 24 most restrictive countries (according to Pew Research), 19 are Muslim-majority. Of the 21 countries that have laws against apostasy, all have Muslim majorities."
Question to Ponder: How does the media play a role in shaping the conversations we have in society about different cultures and places? How can 'painting with a broad brush' lead to stereotypes and inaccurate conclusions?
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
Here's a somewhat regular argument I get in: Which states make up which regions of the United States? Some of these regions -- the West Coast, Mountain States, Southwest and Northeast are pretty cl...
Vernacular regions aren't defined by a one particular trait, but are how we think about places. These 'regions of the mind' are how we organize information about places, which is why these regions aren't sharp or precise. In a similar article, they investigate what we consider to be a part of the South using similar crowdsourcing data.
Thanks to demographics, the Republicans have a virtual stranglehold on the House of Representatives.
The first reaction might be to blame partisan redistricting (a.k.a. gerrymandering) for the the political gridlock between the presidential results and House of Representatives. Gerrymandering does play a role, but the spatial concentrations and distributions of voting constituencies explain why the Democrats have recently won the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, but can't control the House of Representatives. Metro areas are highly left-leaning, currently creating a national majority for Democrats, but that high concentration is a drawback when trying to win a majority of the seats in the House. This is a good article as a primer for electoral geography.
"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?
Many of Africa’s leaders will be in town next week attending a White House summit. The continent’s land is shared among 49 countries — many of which rarely make U.S. headlines. How familiar are you with Africa’s geography?
This online quiz tests your ability to locate African countries on the map--a basic skill that isn't 'doing geography' (an age-old lament among geography educators). Still, it is hard to have an intelligent discussion about the continent if you can't name or locate any places other than Egypt and South Africa. For some of my favorite online map quiz resources, click here.