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.
The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But, Karen Armstrong writes, the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple
After a bumpy beginning, secularism has undoubtedly been valuable to the west, but we would be wrong to regard it as a universal law. It emerged as a particular and unique feature of the historical process in Europe; it was an evolutionary adaptation to a very specific set of circumstances. In a different environment, modernity may well take other forms. Many secular thinkers now regard “religion” as inherently belligerent and intolerant, and an irrational, backward and violent “other” to the peaceable and humane liberal state – an attitude with an unfortunate echo of the colonialist view of indigenous peoples as hopelessly “primitive”, mired in their benighted religious beliefs. There are consequences to our failure to understand that our secularism, and its understanding of the role of religion, is exceptional. When secularisation has been applied by force, it has provoked a fundamentalist reaction – and history shows that fundamentalist movements which come under attack invariably grow even more extreme. The fruits of this error are on display across the Middle East: when we look with horror upon the travesty of Isis, we would be wise to acknowledge that its barbaric violence may be, at least in part, the offspring of policies guided by our disdain.
"Weak and failing states pose a challenge to the international community. In today’s world, with its highly globalized economy, information systems and interlaced security, pressures on one fragile state can have serious repercussions not only for that state and its people, but also for its neighbors and other states halfway across the globe. The Fragile States Index (FSI), produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure."
How can political stability and security be measured? What constitutes effective governance? The Fragile States Index (formerly known as the Failed States Index) is a statistical ranking designed to measure the effective political institutions across the globe. There are 12 social, economic, and political/military categories that are a part of the overall rankings and various indicators are parts of the metrics that are a part of this index are:
•Human Flight and Brain Drain
•Uneven Economic Development
•Poverty and Economic Decline
•Human Rights and Rule of Law
The daily tally of rocket attacks, airstrikes and deaths in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
As the violent nature of the Israeli Palestinian conflict has escalated, this NY Times article monitors the major points of the last few weeks. The possibility of 'Peace in the Middle East' feels so remote, and this Onion article parodies the difficulties of actually achieving this. On a personal note, Chad Emmett taught the "Geography of the Middle East" course while I was at BYU and I've always appreciated his perspective; here are his thoughts on recent events.
"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."
As the sprawling Zaatari camp evolves into an informal city — with an economy and even gentrification — aid workers say camps can be potential urban incubators that benefit host countries like Jordan.
This is an intriguing article that explores the difficulties of forced migrations that arise from civil war, but it also looks at city planning as refugee camps are established to make homes for the displaced. These camps have become into de-facto cities. The maps, videos and photographs embedded in the article show the rapid development of these insta-cities which organically have evolved to fit the needs of incoming refugees. Size not investing in permanent infrastructure has some serious social, sanitation and financial cost, there are some efforts to add structure to the chaos, to formalize the informal. Truly this is a fascinating case study of in urban geography as we are increasingly living on what Mike Davis refers to as a "Planet of Slums."
"There are more people displaced by violence and conflict on the planet right now than at any time since World War II. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the number of people forcibly displaced, including refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons has now reached over 51 million."
Stratfor Founder and Chairman George Friedman and Chief Geopolitical Analyst Robert D. Kaplan discuss how Bashar al Assad has legitimized his authority over the course of the Syrian conflict.
Stratfor specializes in global intelligence in key geopolitical regions. Syria certainly fits that description and in this video, the two most public faces of Stratfor discuss the reasons for the Syrian Civil War from and internal perspective and also impacts from a broader outside lens.
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?
20 years after the genocide in Rwanda, these perpetrators and survivors are standing for forgiveness.
The idea behind these images is incredibly powerful and heartbreaking. The horrific genocide turned neighbor against neighbor and tore communities and a country apart. I can only imagine the pain for the individuals, but also the trauma inflicted on the national psyche. See also the White House's official statement on the 20th anniversary of the genocide.
84% of Americans are unable to locate Ukraine on a world map; those that can't are more likely to support military intervention.
As I've said before, a more informed, geo-literate citizenry helps to strengthen U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic efforts because they have a spatial framework within which to organize political, environmental, cultural and economic information. National Geographic recently also produced a video showing how geo-education is important for business professionals as a part of their geo-education community (if you haven't already, join!). This is one way to combat geographic ignorance.
A color-coded map of the country's religious and ethnic groups helps explain why the fighting is so bad.
This map of the various ethnic and religious groups in being shown on major media outlets as some Western countries (including the United States) are considering military action in Syria. This and other maps like it powerfully conveys while many may conceptualize Syrians as a single monolithic group, that idea is a fiction that was created in the absence of geographic content to fill the void.
Additionally this diagram has also been circulating lately for the same reasons; this flow chart lays out the Middle East's political rivalries and alliances. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a well-quoted proverb to simplify Middle Eastern political alliances and rivalries. Seeing this web, you can only imagine that living by that dictum can certainly lead to complicated geopolitical conflicts among countries and culture groups.
UNHCR has been attempting to count the world's refugees since it was created. If you want to find out which years resulted in the worst displacement, which were the biggest countries of origin and which were the biggest countries of asylum, use the interactive map.
This interactive on refugees is especially timely, given that the Syrian civil war has created refugee situations in many of the neighboring countries. One of my favorite elements of the Guardian's interactive is that they provide the raw data, so students can create their own maps with the same high quality data. Equally important, this interactive shows the regional power bases of all the various factions of the Syrian rebellion that is seeking to overthrow the Assad regime. The political conflict has huge demographic implications.
"GIS has given us the chance to re-examine how the Civil War battle was won and lost."
July 1-3 mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and it seems only appropriate to share these rich, interactive resources to commemorate the event (this particular interactive feature uses an ESRI storymap template). This fantastic example from the Smithsonian Magazine shows how history teaching and research can be benefited by using GIS with the example of Gettysburg. Many student today visit the sites of the Battle of Gettysburg and get a greater appreciation of battle by getting a sense of the lay of the land and the challenged confronting both armies. National Geographic has additionally put together resources to display other Civil War battles. GIS is not a tool that is just for geographers; any analysis that requires spatial analysis can be mapped.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
"An earlier GeoCurrents post on Chechnya mentioned that the Chechens were deported from their homeland in the North Caucasus to Central Asia in February 1944. However, the Chechen nation was not the only one to suffer such a fate under Stalin’s regime."
On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Knox Schroeder, and Sandra Scheuer during an anti-war protest at Kent State University.
This is a poignant image that strikes a chord with me. History is embedded within place even if the historical events are not memorialized within the landscape. May 4, 2013 not only marked the anniversary of the Kent State tragedy, it also was the day that the great Wilbur Zelinsky passed away. He was a geographer who analyzed the cultural landscape as well as anyone ever did, and I consider myself fortunate enough to have had conversations with him while I was at Penn State.
North Korea turned up the temperature yet another degree on its neighbors Monday, warning that it would not give any advance notice before attacking South Korea.
To a soundtrack of fervent synthesizers and inspirational light rock, the video announces that North Korea will aim nuclear weapons (that it may, or may not, be able to launch) at Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Honolulu and… Colorado Springs, Co.
The unorthodox move — apparently an attempt to target the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, and the United States Air Force Academy — is compounded by the fact that Pyongyang does not quite know where the city is. The map shown in the video places it somewhere in Louisiana."
I wish this had sub-titles, but it is an incredibly awesome bit of North Korea's famous jingoistic propaganda from their media that essentially is the least free press in the world (maybe subtitles would ruin the unintentional comedy). I find this equal parts hilarious and unnerving, but totally mesmerizing.
Africa may have achieved independence, but the old colonial ties are still important as France’s decision to send troops to Mali to fight Islamist extremists shows.
"Another refugee camp opened today in Mrajeeb al-Fhood, Jordan, to accommodate the reported 1,500 to 2,000 Syrians fleeing to Jordan daily. Just over a year ago the Big Picture posted an entry of the growing number of people displaced due to the conflict that now has lasted over two years. The United Nations recently said a total of around 7,000 to 8,000 Syrians are leaving their country daily; there are 1.3 million Syrian refugees and almost 4 million more have been displaced inside Syria since the start of the conflict. Posted here is another glimpse of daily life for those displaced since the beginning of this year."
These 37 images are excellent, but I chose to share this particular one, because the combination of poverty and happiness embody the purpose behind refugee camps. While the living conditions are grim and far from ideal, they are better than the alternative for these refugees and the assistance that they are receiving from the international community can be a ray of hope for the future of these children. In this picture, Syrian refugee children play in Sidon, located in southern Lebanon.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
If Pyongyang is as bent on war as it wants us to believe, why is it keeping the inter-Korean Kaesong industrial complex open?
News reports coming out of North Korea are grim and threatening right now. However, this Washington Post article argues that it might be all for show. The Kaesong Industrial Complex was opened in 2002 as a gesture of peace. Located just across the northern side of the border, it is staffed by South and North Koreans (South Korea get super cheap labor, North Korea gets an infusion of currency, both get positive PR). The Kaesong Industrial Complex continues to operate with the permission of the North Korean government. Were that to ever change and North Korea shut down this joint venture, THEN we'll know that they are serious. Watch this short video for an overview of the geopolitical situation on the Korean peninsula as of March 2013.
The effects of war can be staggering and far-reaching. Often the costs are much higher than anticipated at the beginning. Read this press release for more details on the recent findings regarding the actual costs of the Iraq War, which are estimated to have cost over 190,000 lives and $2.2 trillion.
-Introduction (1 minute) -Sign up for a free Prezi account and give your students background with the Syria the Basics PREZI . (5 minutes) - Follow up with another PREZI about Youth...
The number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict and crossed the borders hasn't ceased to increase.
UNICEF workers have stated: "More than 600,000 have fled the conflict in Syria and registered as refugees. The number of Syrians who have left without registering is unknown but is likely to be hundreds of thousands. We do know, however, that children make up around half the number of refugees and that is certainly no way for any child to live their childhood."