Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
This is a clip from the TV show West Wing (Season 2-Episode 16) is a classic--how often does cartography plays a key role in the plot of a TV show? In this episode the fictitious (but still on Facebook) group named "the Organization of Cartographers for Social Justice" is campaigning to have the President officially endorse the Gall-Peters Projection in schools and denounce the Mercator projection. The argument being that children will grow up thinking some places are not as important because they are minimized by the map projection. While a bit comical, the cartographic debate is quite informative even if it was designed to appear as though the issue was trivial.
Questions to Ponder: Why do map projections matter? Is one global map projection inherently better than the rest?
In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
Kunstler passionately argues that American architecture and urban planning are not creating public places that encourage interaction and communal engagement. We should create more distinct places that foster a sense of place that is 'worth fighting for,' as opposed to suburbia which he sees as emblematic of these problems.
Question to Ponder: How should we design cities to create a strong sense of place? What elements are necessary? Warning: He uses some strong language.
More complex international borders in this follow up to part 1.
In this video I look at even more enclaves and exclaves."
This video (like part 1) shows some great examples of how the political organization of space and administration of borders can get complicated. Here are the examples (and time in the video when they are covered in the video) on these complex borders:
"Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations."
While corporations rise and fall, it is quite rare for a city to entirely fail as an economic system. Huge cities have some negative consequences, but the networks that operate in the city function more efficiently on economies of scale in a way that offsets the negatives. Increasing a city's population will continue to improve the economies of scale (larger cities have higher wages per capita, more creative employment per capita, etc.). However, this growth requires major technological innovations to sustain long-term growth.
Maps have always been a source of fascination and intrigue. Today's maps, however, can also help to save lives during disasters, document human rights abuses and monitor elections in countries under repressive rule. This presentation will explain how today's live maps can combine crowds and clouds to drive social change.
On this Thanksgiving, I want to remind this community that geospatial skills can be used to help others. Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action? Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency. Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are hardest hit by natural disasters. Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets made by people like you and me.
Animating the changing shape of the world population pyramid. For more multimedia content from The Economist visit our website: http://econ.st/1xqEZhX.
This is an incredibly powerful and remarkably well-done video by the Economist (see related article here) that is reminiscent of a TED-ED lesson on the importance and value of population pyramids. This video goes nicely with this article from the World Bank entitled "The End of the Population Pyramid" which highlights the demographic changes that will be reshaping global demographics in the next 50-100 years.
"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.
Cityscape Chicago II is a personal timelapse piece that I have worked on periodically over the past two years. The inspiration behind the project ties similarly with the original piece. As the city of Chicago continues to change, my fascination with it grows as well. The goal for me is always to capture the city in a unique way from new perspectives, and to continue exploring it.
"New York has long been a city of immigrants, but linguists now consider it a laboratory for studying and preserving languages in rapid decline elsewhere in the world."
This is an excellent video for showing the diffusion of languages in the era of migration to major urban centers. It also shows the factors that lead to the decline of indigenous languages that are on the fringe of the global economy and the importance of language to cultural traditions. Here is the article related to the video as well as a BBC article that calls NYC a 'graveyard of languages.' In a curious twist on the topic of endangered languages, there is a group of Native Americans in Northern California that wouldn't mind seeing their language die out with this generation.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
"Jan Crawford explores a unique folk art tradition going back 100 years - once seen on nearly every row house in the working class neighborhoods of Baltimore, as artists today once again embrace the tradition of painted window screens, an authentic connection to the city's past."
This is tremendous example of an urban cultural landscape that is distinctive to a certain place (Baltimore) and a particular time period. The practice of painting landscape scene on window screens began over 100 years ago, as a way to beat the heat, but still afford some form of privacy. This aesthetic emerged out of particular set of cultural, technological, and economic factors. What was once common is now perceived as a folk art that is a worth preserving because it is a marker of the local heritage. This is an excellent example to demonstrate a sense of place that can develop within a community. This video has been added to my ESRI StoryMap that spatially organizes place-based videos for the geography classroom (68 and counting).
"Ukraine is the quintessential borderland state. The country borders three former Soviet states and four countries in the European Union. Ukraine sits on the Northern European Plain, the area that has historically served as an invasion superhighway going east and west."
Many advocates of local foods favor a small-scale approach to farming and are opposed to large-scale agribusiness. It might be easy for those disconnected from the food production system (like me) to romanticize and mythologize the farmers of yesteryear and yearn to return to this past. This talk highlights how essential large-scale farming is absolutely critical to feeding the global population; this other TED talk discusses many of the hunger problems especially the uneven access to food. Here are some other pro-agribusiness resources.
What would Earth be like if all humans suddenly disappeared? This question posed on the YouTube series Earth Unplugged, has many intriguing ecological and biogeographic ramifications that are worth considering to explore how systems are interconnected.
"What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading."
What one invention has made the greatest difference in the lives of people all around the world? The case can be made for the washing machine; it has been a major tool in transforming the lives of women and restructuring gender roles in industrialized societies.
"Dogtown and Z-Boys: A documentary about the pioneering 1970s Zephyr skating team."
Popular culture is shaped by taste-makers, counter-cultural movements, and the blending of cultural practices in new ways creating a distinct aesthetic. Often, the physical geography of a region plays a crucial role in shaping the cultural practices particular to their environment. All of that can be seen quite vividly in the colorful skating revolution of the 1970s that took shape in the Southern California. Kids who grew up idolizing surfers branched out their recreational habits into the modern form of skating that we see today at the X Games. Made legendary through a series of Skateboarder magazine articles, these kids shaped the cultural ethos of skateboarding for over a generation. With the coastal influence of surfing, the socioeconomics of a seaside slum, it’s abandoned piers, the ubiquity of cement and asphalt in the urban landscape, the run-down neighborhood of “Dogtown” was home to cultural movement. The fierce droughts of the 1970 meant abandoned swimming pools; that drought led surfers to the technological infrastructure for modern skating ramps and half pipes as they skated in emptied swimming pools. As stated in those Skaterboarder articles, “two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.” The documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” (trailer) and the fictionalized “Lords of Dogtown,” (trailer) both produced by skater turned filmmaker Stacy Peralta, chronicle the age (“Lords of Dogtown” is not appropriate for the K-12 classroom viewing).
"The Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of the Earth's surface, and continues to deliver both visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our planet. This short video (download here) highlights Landsat's many benefits to society."
"In this exclusive, unedited interview, 'I Am Malala' author Malala Yousafzai remembers the Taliban's rise to power in her Pakistani hometown and discusses her efforts to campaign for equal access to education for girls. Malala Yousafzai also offers suggestions for people looking to help out overseas and stresses the importance of education."
For younger audiences, hearing someone their own age discuss educational opportunities (or the lack thereof) based on gender can leave a profound impression. Today, Malala is a Nobel Peace Prize winner (deservedly so), as she's become an icon in her own right as she champions developmental opportunities for girls in cultures that historically have not had equal offerings for young women. Watch this documentary to see who she was before she was thrust into the international spotlight, and hear her father's perspective. Some, however, only see this as Western hypocrisy.
"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."
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.
"A great resource full of great links to accompany the Geography Soup channel on Vimeo."
Geography Soup is a Vimeo channel designed to include interesting videos that are laden with geographic content in them. This powerpoint slideshow has resources designed to help you get the most flavor and substance out of these (and any other) video resources. This is especially great for K-12 students, physical and regional geography.
"This is what a pyrocumulus cloud caused by the burning of over 28,000+ acres of forest looked like as the sun set. In person as these clouds were changing it wasn't all that noticeable when the huge plumes of smoke changed shape, but thanks to the magic of a time-lapse we get to behold the violent nature of the smoke cloud, including a storm cloud that emerged behind the main pyrocumulus."
Seeing this fire essential create it's own weather system is riveting. While this scene can be seen as beautiful on the macro-scale, it is horrific on the ground where the fire ravaged physical and human landscapes alike. Here is some satellite imagery of the fire.
"Here's a collection of timelapses I shot during the past year. Amazing landscapes from California, Arizona, Bahamas, Florida, Japan, Taiwan to Italy."
This video covers various topics important to mapping and satellite imagery (and a lesson from an APHG teacher on how to use this video with other resources). There is so much more to the world and space than what we can see see. Chromoscope, referenced in the video, simulates other forms of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum besides just visible light. This type of information is at the core of the science behind all of our satellite imagery. This video also covers many map projection issues and highlights online resources to understand map distortion including:
In this image-filled talk, Yann Arthus-Bertrand displays his three most recent projects on humanity and our habitat -- stunning aerial photographs in his series "The Earth From Above," personal interviews from around the globe featured in his web project "6 billion Others," and his soon-to-be-released movie, "Home," which documents human impact on the environment through breathtaking video.
I've linked galleries of the artistic, aerial photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand several times before. In this Ted Talk, you can hear what motivates his artistic vision and the global perspectives that he wants to bring to the fore. You can also watch the 90-minute video 'Home' that he discusses in the talk here.
I'm sure a few of you have already seen this viral video and it should be intriguing to geographers for a variety of reasons (and not just because we love hexagons). Solar Roadways is a project in its infancy, but they have broad ambitions that would be revolutionary. Roads that would produce energy? The idea would have staggering results, but there are some practical reasons why this hasn't already been implemented. A geographic perspective is critical as we plan for the future.
Questions to Ponder: How would the full implementation of this idea restructure the cultural landscape, urban environments and our cultural ecology? What would some advantages be? This video is a promotional video that emphasizes the positive; what drawbacks, limitations and obstacles are there to solar roadways in the future?
"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!