Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism

How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism | Geography Education |
Calling out human rights violations shouldn’t stray into bias against Jews.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a very partisan article, but some of the ideas brought up in it are worth discussion in non-partisan settings as well.  The author takes a very liberal perspective critiquing Israeli policies, while loving Judaism, Jewish history, and the right of the Israeli state to exist.  Blanket "good guys" and "bad guys" narratives are always sloppy, but in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it may be even more pernicious.  


Tagsop-ed, Israel Judaism conflict, political, Middle East.

David Stiger's curator insight, November 1, 2018 12:59 AM
Two things to take away from this well-written article. It is important for critics of the Zionist movement and of Israel (the nation-state) to always bear in mind that the Jewish people are very diverse in both their backgrounds and their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No single entity, specifically the Israeli government or army, speaks on behalf of all Jewish people. The second takeaway is being on the lookout for coded language that guises itself as political rhetoric leveled against Israel the state but, in reality, the subtext is covertly anti-Semitic. In place of verbally attacking "the Jews" some people may state "the Zionists" or reference a global Zionist conspiracy theory. Zionism is a specific movement within Judaism advocating for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the ancestral land of Judea/Israel/Canaan/Palestine (or as the Romans called the region, the Levant). Considering these valid points, it must be said that it is okay to criticize the state of Israel and specific actions it has taken against Palestine. But, when doing so, critics must be careful in their choice of words so as not to accidentally encourage anti-Semitic ideas. It is important to note that some Israeli Jews, and some other Arab Jews, disapprove of Israel's human rights violations but still might support having a homeland of their own. It is also worth noting that a person can be a Zionist without condoning the current government and military forces of Israel. One can be a Zionist and pro-Palestinian. In being critical, it is important to monitor the passions and anger that may arise, and not paint the world in black and white. There is always nuance. And there is enough anti-Semitism in the world without liberals who are pro-Palestinian unintentionally adding any more fan to the flames. 
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The Fallacy of Endless Economic Growth

The Fallacy of Endless Economic Growth | Geography Education |
What economists around the world get wrong about the future.


The idea that economic growth can continue forever on a finite planet is the unifying faith of industrial civilization. That it is nonsensical in the extreme, a deluded fantasy, doesn't appear to bother us. We hear the holy truth in the decrees of elected officials, in the laments of economists about flagging GDP, in the authoritative pages of opinion, in the whirligig of advertising, at the World Bank and on Wall Street, in the prospectuses of globe-spanning corporations and in the halls of the smallest small-town chambers of commerce. Growth is sacrosanct. Growth will bring jobs and income, which allow us entry into the state of grace known as affluence, which permits us to consume more, providing more jobs for more people producing more goods and services so that the all-mighty economy can continue to grow. "Growth is our idol, our golden calf," Herman Daly, an economist known for his anti-growth heresies, told me recently.


Tagsop-ed, economicindustry, sustainability, development, consumption, climate change, environment, resources.


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Why Malthus Is Still Wrong

Why Malthus Is Still Wrong | Geography Education |
Why Malthus makes for bad science policy
Seth Dixon's insight:

The ideas of Thomas Malthus have always loomed large; the scope includes some of the biggest issues facing humanity's continued existence on this planet.  His controversial ideas have been debated and inspired some policies that were especially damaging.  This anti-Malthusian op-ed was written by the Publisher of Skeptic Magazine; I typically pair this with the neo-Malthusian op-ed written by the  President of the Canada's Population institute.  Comparing and contrasting the merits of these articles provides a way to get student to assess the strengths of an argument and to identify the bias/perspective of the author.  


Questions to Ponder: What did Malthus get right?  What did he get wrong? 


Tagsop-ed, demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

Alex Smiga's curator insight, August 6, 2017 1:05 PM
What did Malthus get right? and what did he get wrong?
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London Should Secede From the United Kingdom

London Should Secede From the United Kingdom | Geography Education |
Beyond the stunning act that has become Britain’s vote to leave the European Union lies a deeper message: Democracy is not destiny, but devolution. Ceaseless entropy — the second law of thermodynamics — applies to politics as well. The more countries democratize, the more local populations seek greater self-rule.
Seth Dixon's insight:

In his book Connectography by Parag Khanna, he argues that connectivity and networks are more important today.  Using those ideas, Khanna discusses London's options after the recent Brexit vote in this op-ed (this additional article explores the demographic divide on the Brexit vote, especially how many British Millennials feel that their future has been snatched from them).      

Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, January 19, 2018 12:40 AM

In this article, Parag Khanna argues exactly what the title suggests, "London should secede from the United Kingdom". In light of the UK's decision to leave the European Union, Khanna discusses that "Londoners... voted by a wide majority to 'remain' in the EU" and suggests that many Londoners have lost their sense of British Pride after the secession. Though it is mentioned that the city "can't and won't" leave the country, the exit from the EU directly impacts London's economy because "immigrants are essential for the city’s financial and education sectors". Without the immigrants, the city's finances will not only be in jeopardy, but its connection between foreign places will be impacted as well. 

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How Islam Created Europe

How Islam Created Europe | Geography Education |

"For centuries in early and middle antiquity, Europe meant the world surrounding the Mediterranean. It included North Africa, but the swift advance of Islam across North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries virtually extinguished Christianity there, thus severing the Mediterranean region into two civilizational halves, with the 'Middle Sea' a hard border between them rather than a unifying force. Islam is now helping to undo what it once helped to create. A classical geography is organically reasserting itself, as the forces of terrorism and human migration reunite the Mediterranean Basin, including North Africa and the Levant, with Europe." 

Seth Dixon's insight:

The title is a bit overstated (aren't they all in this click-bait driven media age?), but the article shows nicely how regions are cultural constructs that change over time. 


Tags: op-edregions, Europe, historical, Islamreligionhistorical, culture, Christianity.

association concert urbain's curator insight, September 22, 2016 2:06 PM


The Atlantic


Politics, culture, business, science, technology, health, education, global affairs, more. Tweets by @CaitlinFrazier

Washington, D.C.

Violaine Maelbrancke's curator insight, December 3, 2016 5:06 PM
Dans sa cartographie, l'Europe a souvent intégré le nord africain qu'elle a pourtant colonisé et soumis. Bien que ce nord africain ait gagné son indépendance il a conservé une relation Nord-Sud privilégiée avec l'Europe. Le terrorisme permet aujourd'hui de reconstruire une Europe bien délimitée en détruisant ce que le nord africain avait dessiné.
L'auteur critique ici une volonté européenne d'intégrer d'autres pays dont la méthode est calquée sur la méthode romaine de constitution d'un empire. L' Europe doit aujourd'hui trouver un autre moyen d'intégrer de nouveaux pays pleinement. Pour l'exemple du nord africain elle doit apprendre à pleinement intégrer l'islam en abandonnant un peu la logique législative catégorisante. Il faudrait alors construire un système où ces grandes lois deviennent des valeurs universelles qui prennent en considération les individus et leurs droits selon une hiérarchie des besoins.
David Stiger's curator insight, September 28, 2018 8:35 PM
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was a disparate and disorganized collection of ethnically similar Christian tribes and kingdoms. Without Rome, there was no driving force to unify these proto-European entities. Bickering, feuding, and divisiveness dominated Christendom. 

An Islamic threat from the south, coming up through North Africa, eventually united Europeans against an "other". By sizing up to Arabic and African Muslims, Europeans saw their common ethnic and religious threads more clearly. This development culminated during the Crusades. Arguably, Islam defined and shaped the final product of Europe. 

Europe believed itself superior to the Islamic world and colonized it. Despite acknowledging the breathtaking accomplishments and advancements of their Muslim counterparts, Europeans saw themselves as something better. During the post-colonialization, 
Europe's excessive exploitation left  these old possessions in shambles without a foundation to build healthy democracies that could support human rights. Seeing itself as democratic and morally sophisticated, Europeans once again defined themselves against an Islamic backdrop.

Times are changing and Europe cannot pursue its old system of defining its civilization. Because of the geographic situation, Europe is poised to absorb the brunt of migration waves from the Islamic world. Failed states, inhumane governments, civil war, and economic collapse have propelled mass waves of North African and Arab immigrants to the shores of Europe. Cultures are mixing and the strict boundaries the old civilizations are disappearing in a more interconnected world. Europe must figure out a way to navigate these turbulent waters of change or risk giving into nationalistic extremist movements that are highly xenophobic and Islamophobic.  
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A New Map for America

A New Map for America | Geography Education |
The 50-state model is holding the country back. It needs a new system, built around urban corridors.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a great article to get students thinking about the spatial network of cities, not just the internal structure of particular cities based on some models. In this article, Parag Khanna argues that the United States is stuck in "an antiquated political structure of 50 distinct states" that isn't aligned with growing urban regions that shape our internal and external economic linkages. He proposed that our infrastruture should strengthen these networks that cut across state boundaries more so than it currently does. "Federal policy should refocus on help these nascent [urban] archipelagos prosper, and helping other emerge...collectively forming a lattice of productive metro-regions efficently through better highways, railways, and fiber-optic cables: a United City-States of America." 


Questions to Ponder: What political obstacles would this proposal receive?  Demographically, who would support/oppose this type of restructuring?  How would this impact the economic geographies of the United States? 


Tagsop-edregions, urban, transportationeconomic, planning.


Jean-Simon Venne's curator insight, April 28, 2016 1:13 PM
We should build a similar map for technology innovaton
Character Minutes's curator insight, July 2, 2016 12:13 AM
Great way to encourage critical thinking in students: what would this impact? Adv & Disadvantages? Compare 50 states vs this model? How would new plan be implemented? 

Alex Smiga's curator insight, August 30, 2016 7:26 PM
...and back to city states?
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Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them.

Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them. | Geography Education |
Mandatory helmet laws and glow-in-the-dark spray paint just show who really owns the roads.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This op-ed is good discussion fodder to discuss the urban planning preferences embedded within our transportation choices. 


Tagsop-ed, urban, transportation, planning.

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Wall for nothing: the misjudged but growing taste for border fences

Wall for nothing: the misjudged but growing taste for border fences | Geography Education |

"Globalisation was supposed to tear down barriers, but security fears and a widespread refusal to help migrants and refugees have fuelled a new spate of wall-building across the world, even if experts doubt their long-term effectiveness. When the Berlin Wall was torn down a quarter-century ago, there were 16 border fences around the world. Today, there are 65 either completed or under construction, according to Quebec University expert Elisabeth Vallet."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is an intriguing opinion piece that would be good fodder for a class discussion on political geography or the current events/refugee crisis. 

Tags: borders, political.

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Stop Complaining About Gentrification Unless You Know What It Is

Stop Complaining About Gentrification Unless You Know What It Is | Geography Education |

"In many cities, it's become popular to hate 'gentrifiers,' rich people who move in and drive up housing prices -- pushing everyone else out. But what's going on in these rapidly-changing urban spaces is a lot more complicated than that."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Gentrification can be a very touchy subject.  What appears to be economic revitalization of a down-trodden neighborhood to one, can appear to be systematic removal of minorities to another.  This op-ed isn't a whole-hearted embrace of gentrification, but it might be seen as a critique of the gentrification critics.


Tags: neighborhood, gentrificationurban, place, culture, economic.

Amber Coleman's curator insight, May 11, 2017 3:59 PM
This article relates to my class because we have just discussed the idea of gentrification. I understood that gentrification was the immigration of richer people to poorer areas, but I didn't realize that it was to the point that people would completely loose their homes. However, I know that it is happening because of urbanization. 
Lucas Olive's curator insight, May 11, 2017 7:38 PM
This article relates to what we have been learning in class because this article explains what gentrification is, which is a big part of urbanization. My opinion on gentrification is that it is not good for most people in the area that is being gentrified, it's only good for a few people, usually they're rich.
Kassie Geiger's curator insight, May 13, 2017 4:50 AM
Gentrification is the process of converting an urban neighborhood from a predominantly low-income, renter-occupied area to a predominantly middle-class, owner-occupied area. To be completely honest I can see how gentrification can be a good thing and a bad thing. The bad part about it is that people could be possibly moving out of a childhood home or a home with sentimental value. While on the other hand it could be a good thing by building new more modern housing that could check the boxes of people "needs" when they are looking to buy a house, especially first-time buyers. They may want a house with a up-to-date kitchen, 4 or 5 bedrooms, an up-to-date bath or two. I can totally understand that to get things how you want them to be in an older house can be extremely difficult and costly. However, some people may want an older house to pass onto their children, to grow old in. 
That's pretty much all I have to say about gentrification without going completely off topic.
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Bye-Bye, Baby

Bye-Bye, Baby | Geography Education |
Birthrates are falling around the world. And that’s O.K.

Why do commentators, like Chicken Little, treat this worldwide trend as a disaster, even collective suicide? It could be because declines in fertility rates stir anxieties about power: national, military and economic, as well as sexual. In reality, slower population growth creates enormous possibilities for human flourishing. In an era of irreversible climate change and the lingering threat from nuclear weapons, it is simply not the case that population equals power, as so many leaders have believed throughout history. Lower fertility isn’t entirely a function of rising prosperity and secularism; it is nearly universal.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This op-ed from the New York Times provides excellent material for discussing demographic issues, especially regarding declining populations.  Many countries do fear the demographic uncertainty and are actively encouraging pro-natalist policies (with salacious ads such as Singapore's National Night and a Travel agency's 'Do it for Denmark' campaign).  The author of this article though, seeks to quell those fears.    

Tag: declining populations, population, demographic transition model.

Sarah Ann Glesenkamp's curator insight, September 18, 2014 12:35 AM

Unit 2

Colleen Blankenship's curator insight, October 12, 2016 1:51 PM
After reading this article, do you agree or disagree?  Remember, be specific with your arguments.
Colleen Blankenship's curator insight, September 5, 2018 3:01 PM

How will this trend affect perspectives on population?  How will the DTM reflect these new figures?

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Opinion: Geography lessons make a world of difference in education

Opinion: Geography lessons make a world of difference in education | Geography Education |
To meet workforce needs, scholarships must be available to support the best and brightest students who choose to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in geography
Seth Dixon's insight:

The authors of this article are from American Geographical Society and discuss the results of a study that indicate that Americans want more geography education in the school systems today.  Often geography gets buried within the social studies curriculum and it is up to the individual teacher to ensure how much geography actually gets taught in the classroom.  This is not a new problem; in a bulletin published by the Bureau of Education in 1922, it was said, "So long as it is assumed that history is all of the social studies the elements of the others will be neglected as they are now."  This article provides good sources to help educators argue for more geographic content in the curriculum at all educational levels.


Tags: Geography Education, geo-inspiration.

Lulu Farah's comment, May 8, 2013 6:21 PM
Very true. Without Geography the world would be that much darker.
Mary Patrick Schoettinger's curator insight, May 9, 2013 1:26 PM

Many suggest that's those who want more geography education should be satisfied that it is one of the tiers of social studies. But we have seen even social studies be cut to half a year in our elementary schools. How can we build the necessary geographic, civic, economic, and history foundations in such short amount of time? Even now, as we access our news, it daily becomes more apparent how important these studies are.

Francisco Javier 's curator insight, May 13, 2013 1:50 AM

Opinion: Geography lessons make a world of difference in education | @scoopit via @APHumanGeog

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Op-Ed: Redistricting in Wisconsin

Op-Ed: Redistricting in Wisconsin | Geography Education |
Shaped like a giant pistol sitting on its butt end, Wisconsin's new 22nd state Senate District is Exhibit A in the case against partisan redistricting.

Seth Dixon's insight:

The redistricting process is far from neutral; to be fair we should remember that gerrymandering is has happened on all ends of the political spectum.  Which map to you think is the best way to divide these districts?  What is the fairest way to divide them?

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In the Shadows of the High Line

In the Shadows of the High Line | Geography Education |
The High Line has become a tourist-clogged catwalk and a catalyst for some of the most rapid gentrification in the city’s history.


Earlier I have posted about the High Line, a project in NYC to transform an old elevated train line into a public green space. This project has fallen under criticism as the property values of homes below the High Line have risen and the neighborhood is undergoing gentrification. Linked is the NYTimes opinion article that critiques the High Line as a “Disneyfied tourist-clogged catwalk.” This project has change the economic profile of the neighborhood and its sense of place and communal identity. The critic’s blog is (self-described) “a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct,” so he is naturally going to be against anything that at changes the historic character of the city. As geographer Matthew Hartzell has said, “to say that nothing should change is an awfully conservative view of urbanity. Cities evolve—neighborhoods evolve.” This is a good article to share with students to get them to think about the economic and cultural issues associated with urban revitalization projects and the impacts they have on the city.

James Hobson's curator insight, September 15, 2014 11:07 PM

(North America topic 4)
I was surprised to find out how projects such as the High Line could raise strong oppositional viewpoints. Before looking into this topic it seemed like an all-around beneficial project. Delving deeper, however, the unseen consequences of revitalization and gentrification (2 major keywords right there!) become more apparent. Also at this level it is important to note that what is "good" vs. "bad" becomes much less objective, but rather mainly subjective and viewable in many different lights.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, September 25, 2014 10:55 PM

I found this article extremely insightful, a first hand account of how gentrification affects the lives of those who witness their community changing to suit the needs of people who can bring revenue in for the city. Also it shows how well-intentioned grassroots efforts to improve a neighborhood can be high jack by those who see the potential to make money. In the beginning the idea to take this unused high line and convert it into a public green space seemed like a terrific way to take the landscape of the neighborhood and convert it into a public good that reflected the community in which it existed. The railway was covered in graffiti with a "wild urban meadow", if I lived in that community I would have supported making it a public space because it showed my communities creativity and culture. Unfortunately, the policy makers in NYC saw a way to bring tourist in with a new trendy hot spot. They covered the graffiti, erasing the communities imprint on the high line. The NYC government used the walk way as a means to increase revenue and in doing so they over crowded the neighborhood making no room for those who were already living under the rail. What is even more striking is that these gentrification efforts even lead to the rezoning of West Chelsea so they could build luxury developments and destroy existing buildings. This public space started out as a great communal asset that was perverted through gentrification.

Timothée Mariau's curator insight, December 13, 2015 1:14 AM

Cet article parle d'un cas particulier que constitue la High Line dans le West-Side à Manhattan. Cette High Line est une ancienne voie ferrée aérienne de Manhattan qui a été transformée en parc dans la fin des années 2000. L'auteur critique ici l'impact que l'installation de ce parc urbain a pu avoir sur le quartier. Il montre qu'il y a eu une certaine forme de gentrification dans le quartier qui était auparavant un quartier représentant la mixité sociale de Manhattan ( avec des populations ouvrières qui travaillait dans les abattoirs du quartier et des classes moyennes supérieures). Aujourd'hui le prix de l'immobilier a explosé du fait de l'attraction que constitue ce parc aérien du point de vue touristique mais aussi au niveau de la qualité des conditions de vie. Cette attractivité a amené une élite économique dans le quartier au détriment des anciens habitants et propriétaires de boutiques qui ont été obligés de partir dans d'autres quartiers du fait de l'explosion du coût de la vie dans le quartier. Cela montre bien en quoi un projet urbain comme la réhabilitation de la High Line peut avoir une influence sur le quartier ( en favorisant l'attractivité touristique, économique et résidentielle) et comment une partie de la population se sent lésée suite à l'élaboration du projet et des changements que le quartier a subi.

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The Population Bomb Has Been Defused

The Population Bomb Has Been Defused | Geography Education |

Some of the most spectacularly wrong predictions in history have been made by those who claim that overpopulation is going to swamp the planet. Thomas Malthus, a British economist writing in the late 1700s, is the most famous of these. Extrapolating past trends into the future, he predicted that population growth would inevitably swamp available food resources, leading to mass starvation. That didn’t happen -- we continued to develop new technologies that let us stay ahead of the reaper.


In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb,” warning that unchecked population growth would lead to mass starvation in the 1970s. He was just as wrong as Malthus. Global population did surge, but food production managed to keep up.


So far, the prophets of overpopulation have been defeated by technology. But human ingenuity alone can never deliver a final victory in the battle to feed the world -- eventually, population growth will overwhelm the Earth’s ability to provide calories. That’s why in order to put Malthus and Ehrlich finally to rest, a second component is needed -- lower fertility rates. To save both the environment and themselves, humans must have fewer kids.


Fortunately, this is happening. During the lifetimes of Malthus and Ehrlich, humans still tended to have large families, with each woman bearing an average of five children over her lifetime. But shortly after Ehrlich’s book, that began to change.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Mathusian ideas are incredibly controversial; there are articles that will proclaim that he was right and others that will point to how he got it all wrong.   The critics of Malthus see that Earth and humanity will survive as fertility rates fall almost everywhere but the Neo-Malthusians see that while fertility rates are dropping, the total population of the world continues to climb.  This article has many great fertility rate charts.  


Questions to Ponder: What did Malthus get right?  What did he get wrong? 


Tags: Malthus, op-ed, demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

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America’s Empty-Church Problem

America’s Empty-Church Problem | Geography Education |
The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse.


In his book Twilight of the Elites, the MSNBC host Chris Hayes divides American politics between “institutionalists,” who believe in preserving and adapting the political and economic system, and “insurrectionists,” who believe it’s rotten to the core. The 2016 election represents an extraordinary shift in power from the former to the latter. The loss of manufacturing jobs has made Americans more insurrectionist. So have the Iraq War, the financial crisis, and a black president’s inability to stop the police from killing unarmed African Americans. And so has disengagement from organized religion.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Forgive the inflammatory title and the partisan source of this article if those are things that would worry you.  This discussion of how secularization is (and is not) changing the nature of American politics gives people much to consider--no matter where you fit on any political or religious spectrum. 


Tagsop-ed, religion, culture, political, USA.

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Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

Conventional wisdom in the West blames the Ukraine crisis on Russian aggression. But this account is wrong: Washington and its European allies actually share most of the responsibility, having spent decades pushing east into Russia’s natural sphere of interest.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Ukraine is culturally, economically, and geographically connected with Russia. It is a territory that Russia cannot afford to lose as a part of their sphere of influence.  John Mearsheimer, in his article Why Ukraine Crisis is the West's Fault, gives a detailed account of NATO expansion and how it effected the Russian demand for hegemony in East Europe. Ultimately it is his conclusion that it was this expansion that provoked the Russians, and the current crisis is on the hands of the West. The will of a majority of Ukrainians is be begin economically aligning more with EU/NATO countries.  Ukraine decided against Russia, and Russia responded with force.   Here is an article where scholars weigh in and mostly disagree with the author's provocative assessment


Tags: op-ed, Ukrainesupranationalism, Russia, geopoliticspolitical.


Matt Danielson's curator insight, October 11, 2018 12:42 AM
This brings up some good points about a commonly opposed view in Europe and America. Often times we simply put Russia as the bad guy and Putin as its evil leader, but there is more to it then this. It is tough to say Russia's involvement in Ukraine is completely unjustified. To Russia the eastern nations of Europe are their buffer zone to NATO, and would like for them to stay aligned with Russia. When the Pro Russian Ukrainian president was ousted in a popular revolution (or a coup) many in the west simply deemed this as ok because the coup was pro NATO, to Russia this was seen as a threat. Then when Russia got involved the pro Russian "uprising" in Crimea seemed like Russia meddling in other nations internal affairs.  Dont forget that their are many Russians who live in Ukraine, and Russia sees these as their people who they need to protect. Either way this is a complicated situation that gets ignored all too often.
David Stiger's curator insight, October 21, 2018 4:28 AM
A good deal of Ukraine's crisis with Russia is centered around geopolitics. Russia annexed Crimea because of its seaport - a port that NATO had its eye on as a strategic position for keeping Russia in check. The territory of Ukraine as a whole serves as a buffer between Western Europe and Russia. If NATO were to incorporate and pro-Western Ukraine, Russia would feel threatened. As a major power with a history of pride, Russia would never tolerate a direct threat on its border. Making Ukraine into such a threat is not worth the potential political, economic, and military consequences from Russia. Since it is a thin place between two differing ideological powerhouses - Russia and the West - Ukraine might want to consider remaining neutral; even receiving help and assistance from the EU, the United States, and Russia. This route has not been taken because the West, specifically the U.S., has misunderstood Russia as an aging and weak country that would ultimately embrace the good-guy America as a benevolent friend. The U.S. needs to rethink its ideas about Russia and do the sensible thing of giving it a buffer zone and a little deference, just as the U.S. expects other major powers to keep away from Mexico and Central America. 

Matt Danielson's curator insight, October 22, 2018 10:41 PM
This hows a different perspective than the normal western one on the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is more culturally and traditionally connected to Russia than the rest of Europe( historically Kiev was a capital of Russian empires, specifically the "Kieven Rus"). To Russia NATO is a threat, and constantly pushing east towards Russia. Russia wants some kind of friendly buffer Zone out of fears of influence from the west, and possible invasions. Historically Ukraine has been a buffer zone, but with the overthrow of the Russian friendly Ukrainian president and his replacement by a staunch Nato and western supporter Russia feals threaten. Though they denied any involvement at first, in the very least they have been supplying material and training to Crimean and other pro Russian separatist rebels whop are fighting the Ukrainian government in hopes of maintaining some sort of buffer zone.   
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Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever

Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever | Geography Education |
As the country risks becoming a failed state, Kiev must recognise that economic survival depends on Moscow not the west
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a politically inflammatory title for an op-ed article, given the recent Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.  Regions and economic regional linkages form and continually reform.  Our most likely business partners aren't necessarily our best friends.      


Tags: op-ed, economic, regions, UkraineRussia.  

othni lindor's curator insight, October 20, 2018 5:16 PM
This article talks about Ukraine's want to be independent from Russia. Ukraine spent one winter without buying gas from Russia but instead from Europe which was significantly more expensive. As much as Ukraine wants to cut ties with Russia, it will be difficult to because for a very long time, Russia has been Ukraine's main trading partner and investor. Recently, living standards in Ukraine have gotten worse. Their economy has also collapsed recently. Ukraine has been borrowing money from Russia for many years. Getting rid of that debt will take some time. The Ukrainian president has plans to end manufacturing and industry in Ukraine and instead focus on promoting investment in information technologies and agriculture. Russia’s annexation of Crimea is the main reason for the economic collapse in Ukraine. 
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, October 28, 2018 7:40 PM
Its said that our most likely business partners aren't necessarily our best friends. Ukraine and Russia have been at odds with one another for many years. Ukraine wants to be completely independent from Russia meaning they want all ties severed from Russia, economically, politically etc. This is very hard for Ukraine to do because Russia has been there main trading partner and lender of money for years. So when Ukraine spent just one winter buying oil from Europe it contributed to the economy of Ukraine to fail. (The cost of gas was much higher than Russia's pricing). Ukraine has also borrowed a lot of money from Russia and this debt is going to take a very long time to pay back. For the time being Ukraine is dependent on Russia as much as they do not want to be.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, November 1, 2018 2:25 PM
It's interesting to use such a leading title for this article. Whether or not all the numbers used to make their point that Ukraine should still do business with Russia are correct or misleading a fact is that Ukraine's president is allowing his own country's economy to fall out of spite. That is how tense the situation between the two countries are. Because Russia is Ukraine's major trading partner and Ukraine has attempted to cut ties with Russia, they are hurting themselves but does that mean Russia has their best interests?
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There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor

There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor | Geography Education |

"Venezuela has become a failed state.  According to the International Monetary Fund's latest projections, it has the world's worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate that's gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn't bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It's what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves. Never has a country that should have been so rich been so poor.  There's no mystery here. Venezuela's government is to blame--which is to say that Venezuela is a man-made disaster. It's a gangster state that doesn't know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself."


Tags: Venezuela, South America, op-ed, economic, political, governance.

Douglas Vance's curator insight, February 2, 2018 9:08 PM
Venezuela has the most promise to be an economic powerhouse. Their plethora of fossil fuel resources should make them such. However, their gross abuse of power and economic mismanagement have doomed the country to devastating economic hardships. Despite the clear fact that Venezuela should be a global fossil fuel player, the blatant and indredibly brash corruption and governmental incompetence was too much for their economic potential to withstand. 
David Stiger's curator insight, September 23, 2018 8:54 PM
The line "there has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor" is jarring. Venezuela has the world's largest oil supplies - a natural resource so valuable some refer to it as "black gold." But, the nation has oddly become, as the article judged, a "failed state." The nation is suffering from staggering unemployment, poverty, and economic decline. People are starving and cannot meet their basic needs. The country tried tackling poverty under a socialist system by sharing the oil wealth with its citizens. This socialist project collapsed into failure with the onset of increased government corruption. 

Hugo Chavez, the country's former president, set in motion a government that was doomed to fail. Seeking to find supporters who were loyal to him, Chavez removed the economic and oil experts from power. Oil production fell drastically while government officials began engaging in drug dealing and embezzlement of public funds. The three pronged cancer has crippled an economy based on only one export - oil. If the economy had been diversified from the start, perhaps the crisis would not be so terrible. 

To alleviate hyper-inflation, President Nicolas Maduro has been subsidizing certain businesses. These businesses have found that selling their capital on the black market is more profitable than restocking their shelves to sell needed products at discounted rates. The governments efforts only cause the nightmare to grow. 

As people decry the deplorable acts of crony capitalism in the U.S., it would be wise to examine how sour a purely socialist system can turn. More equitable distribution of a country's wealth can be wise only if there are safeguards against corruption. Venezuela is a key example of what happens when a elite few loot and pillage an entire nation. 
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FORMER CATALAN MP: Here's why Catalonia should secede from Spain, and why it won't

FORMER CATALAN MP: Here's why Catalonia should secede from Spain, and why it won't | Geography Education |

"What a non-independent people fear most is the possibility of being swallowed up by the dominant alien culture in their midst, and that's the likely outcome for Catalans under the Spanish rule. Don’t be surprised if they increasingly opt out of Spain and choose outright independence instead...there will never ever be a self-defeating Spanish government willing to risk losing Catalonia: 16% of its population, 19% of its G.D.P., 24% of its exports, a net provider of 20 billion euros ($22.3 billion) in siphoned taxes every year."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This op-ed piece is overtly pro-Catalonian independence so there is no attempt to be fair and balanced, but that bias is a strength because it so clearly frames the political and cultural issues from a Catalonian Nationalist perspective. This article is a great way to show students how some members of a particular group that is seeking greater autonomy or independence perceives the relationship between their region and the larger state.

Questions to Ponder: How might a representative of the Spanish government frame the debate differently? What are key reasons that the author does not envision full Catalonian independence soon? How would you frame the issues? What other example do you think is analogous to this political situation?

Tags: op-ed, Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomyEurope, culture.

Bridgitte's curator insight, March 2, 2016 2:24 PM

This op-ed piece is overtly pro-Catalonian independence so there is no attempt to be fair and balanced, but that bias is a strength because it so clearly frames the political and cultural issues from a Catalonian Nationalist perspective. This article is a great way to show students how some members of a particular group that is seeking greater autonomy or independence perceives the relationship between their region and the larger state.

Questions to Ponder: How might a representative of the Spanish government frame the debate differently? What are key reasons that the author does not envision full Catalonian independence soon? How would you frame the issues? What other example do you think is analogous to this political situation?

Tags: op-ed, Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomy, Europe, culture.

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Dear smug urbanites, stop ridiculing the suburb I love

Dear smug urbanites, stop ridiculing the suburb I love | Geography Education |
I’m always disappointed that my urban acquaintances know very little of the suburbs surrounding their city. But I’m never more disappointed than when urbanites spout clichéd opinions about suburban living.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a interesting op-ed that defends suburban living when many critics of routinely argue that the suburbs symbolize what's wrong with American urbanism.  

Tags: neighborhoodsuburbs, op-ed.

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, October 9, 2015 9:53 PM

Perspective on suburban life 

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The world as it is: The influence of religion

The world as it is: The influence of religion | Geography Education |

"Seldom has it been more important for Americans to form a realistic assessment of the world scene. But our current governing, college-­educated class suffers one glaring blind spot.

Modern American culture produces highly individualistic career and identity paths for upper- and middle-class males and females. Power couples abound, often sporting different last names. But deeply held religious identities and military loyalties are less common. Few educated Americans have any direct experience with large groups of men gathered in intense prayer or battle. Like other citizens of the globalized corporate/consumer culture, educated Americans are often widely traveled but not deeply rooted in obligation to a particular physical place, a faith or a kinship."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a truly intriguing op-ed that argues that many Americans have a 'blind spot' by failing to recognize the power of religion and tribal bonds in global affairs. While many in the west assume that a new world order has emerged, these old communal forces still rule much of the world and they have some profound geopolitical implications (the author explores Russia, Asia and the Middle East in particular). 

Tags: religion, culture, conflict, political, geopolitics.

Brett Laskowitz's curator insight, January 28, 2015 5:17 PM

My APHUG students will read this article before even beginning our study of religion.  My hope is that this may at the very least help them empathize with the religious fervor that still has such a profound impact on the culture of much of the world.  

Evan Margiotta's curator insight, March 18, 2015 4:26 PM

With the rise and fall of human civilizations have come the rise and fall of religions as well. Americans have grown unaware of the  beliefs and teachings of other religions. They do not know the difference between ethnic and universalizing religions. They do not know that Islam is the fastest expanding religion in the world even though Christianity still has the most followers. Unit 3 Culture

Molly McComb's curator insight, March 21, 2015 7:57 PM

This article shows how religion affects the world around us and its importance in governments. Especially in the middle east (Saudi Arabia), countries often import factors of their major religion into their government. 

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Mosul Dam key win for Islamic State

Mosul Dam key win for Islamic State | Geography Education |

"Islamic State's capture of the Mosul dam gives it control over the water and electricity supply in northern Iraq."

Seth Dixon's insight:

There is a geography to insurgency.   This dam controls both the energy and water resources in the region, which gives the insurgents/rebels/terrorists greater local power.  On a related noted, this op-ed entitled, "How America Lost the Middle East" has plenty of foreign policy and geopolitical material worth discussing.  

Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, October 31, 2014 2:00 AM

This is interesting, ISIS is not only using brute force as a scare tactic, but are also taking hold of natural resources as well.  In taking over the dam ISIS has control of not only a majority of Iraq's water supply but their power supply as well.  They are also threatening employees with loss of pay to do what they want.  Closing off some parts of the dam is preventing water to get to people who are in need.  If the dam was to get backed up too much it could have immediate failure creating a devastating flood wiping out areas of agriculture having the potential for mass civilian casualties.  ISIS is not just taking over everything that they can, but have a method to what they are doing.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 28, 2015 1:14 AM

As the director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Centre in Qatar said, "There's a method in their madness. By gaining control of the area ISIS can flood and destroy homes within the region. Furthermore, they can disrupt the flow of electricity and how the land is irrigated. All of this could cause a great deal of damage to the society. In this light the dam is a pretty important part of Iraq. The fact that ISIS Manipulated he land to their benefit it highly intelligent.  

However, if the dam was in the hand of the United States, the area still isn't completely safe. people would perceive it to be because ISIS would no longer be threatening to use it as an immediate weapon. However, the author noticed that the dam needs constant maintenance and is built on unstable soil. Both of which can cause flooding. In fact, the "worst case scenario" would cause far more damage than ISIS has with the dam. 

Clearly, purposefully using the resources of an area to damage a population is more chilling the a poorly made structure because malice involved. However even in the hands of the United States, the dam shows just how dangerous manipulating nature can be on a local population. 

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 4, 2015 10:21 PM

This will have an enormous impact on drought for drinking, agriculture purposes or even the opposite.  This strategy could be used to flood the lands ruining agriculture.

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How was the AIDS epidemic reversed?

How was the AIDS epidemic reversed? | Geography Education |

"The breakthrough came in 1996, when a new class of antiretroviral drug called protease inhibitors was launched. These were used in combination with two older drugs that worked in different ways. The combination meant that evolving resistance required the simultaneous appearance of several beneficial (from the virus’s point of view) mutationswhich is improbable.  With a viable treatment available, political action became more realistic. AIDS had been a “political” disease from the beginning, because a lot of the early victims were middle-class gay Americans, a group already politically active. Activists were split between those who favoured treating people already infected and those who wanted to stop new infections. The latter were more concerned to preach the message of safe sex and make condoms widely available, so that people could practise what was preached. Gradually, however, activists on both sides realised that the drugs, by almost abolishing the virus from a sufferer’s body, also render him unlikely to pass it on. They are, in other words, a dual-use technology."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The article in the Economist points to the successes the international scientific community has made to minimize the impact of AIDS, but some doctors have wondered, "but what if AIDS didn't impact the wealthy and politically active?"  In this op-ed, a doctor says that medicine is just for those that can afford it because many pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in developing treatments for tropical diseases. 

Tags: AIDS, Africa, medical, development, diffusion.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 15, 2014 8:22 PM

As the article states, the AIDS virus was not known to the science community during the diseases' first years of emergance, but thanks to science, research was put on the forefront to stop AIDS. Unfortunately, the Disease is still incurable, but as the author says, some cases of the virus disappearing from the sufferers' body, it gives hope that a cure may be found someday. The AIDs virus will always be a hot topic and is referred to as the "Political" disease and must pose a threat to rich people in order for the pharmaceutical companies to develop cures.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:52 AM

This article discusses the recent treatments and their success in treating AIDs. For many years AIDs spread rapidly across Africa and even today it still spreads, luckily two things have begun to slow down it's advance. Both the increase in the use of contraception such as condoms which protect against AIDs as well as the production of antibiotics  made available to many at risk of AIDs. This shows that with decent government backing it is possible to stem outbreaks such as this.

Norka McAlister's curator insight, March 28, 2015 7:13 PM

In the late 1990s, it is estimated that 15 million of people had died because of AIDS in Africa. As all social classes were  affected by the virus, even political figures, many international organizations and private businesses were integrated into research treatment. However, the main obstacle in combating this disease is that there is not enough money to fund the necessary treatment for people in many African countries. Although, many organizations have embarked on campaigns regarding how to prevent this dreadful disease from spreading further and these efforts have proved successful in the past decade.

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Rapes Cases Show Clash Between Old and New India

Rapes Cases Show Clash Between Old and New India | Geography Education |
A boom and social change are pitting young working women in the city against men from conservative villages.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The recent resurgence of this issue had me looking through the archives and stumbled upon this 2011 article.  As urban expansion is booming in many Indian cities, the modern city expands into the countryside.  The cultural values of these two demographic groups are quite distinct.  Young, educated women are part of the modern cities' workforce but in many conservative, traditional Indian villages, women working outside the home are seen as "lacking in virtue."  In many of the recent gang rape cases, the perpetrators are less educated young men from surrounding villages and the victims are well-educated young working women that are a part of the new city.    

Public spaces, especially at night, are seen as masculine spaces in most traditional societies.  One of the mothers of an accused rapist succinctly explained this mindset thusly: "If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes."  This is seen as 'Eve teasing,' where women are perceived as responsible for the violence committed against them to maintain social order.  As another article hints, the outrage that this incident ignited could lead towards long-term change in Indian society.   

This other NY Times article op-ed states, "India must work on changing a culture in which women are routinely devalued. Many are betrothed against their will as child brides, and many suffer cruelly, including acid attacks and burning, at the hands of husbands and family members.  India, a rising economic power and the world’s largest democracy, can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence."

Tags: India, migration, South Asia, culture, urban, folk culture, megacities.

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, April 23, 2014 6:37 PM

This issue is very distrubing. First of all it talks about the poor inocent women and girls who leave their house so they are automatically a victim and should be forwarned that they will be hurt if leaving thie house like as if they should be resticted to their home life and never leave. This would be demonstrated as the old India but they are living or rying to live in the New India where the Women in this soicety should nto be subjected to these kinds of crimes. For example something that really took me was "The accused are almost always young high school dropouts from surrounding villages, where women who work outside the home are often seen as lacking in virtue and therefore deserving of harassment and even rape." And then this quote by one of the accused mothers; "“If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes,” the mother of two of those accused in the rape said in an interview, refusing to give her name."" Like come on get your stuff together, you should have raised your children better than this.  I have to wonder what this society thinks and whether or not people are questioning what kind of society they are living in and if this society is pressured by the values of the sexes.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 5, 2014 2:06 AM

Getting away with rape in any country is absolutely disgusting. Especially in India where women have been brutalized with no punishment to the predator, these women have a right to stand up for themselves. Being stalked and raped is something that the police need to get a grip on happening to their citizens.

Kendra King's curator insight, March 29, 2015 12:37 AM

It is hearting to see the police force in the modernized area taking such a strong stance. As the article showed it is greatly needed because the reason rape largely happens is because the traditional aspects of Indian culture continue on strongly in the village areas. These men were told for the longest time that women cannot amount to anything and for them to act free is wrong. This type of thinking is heavily engrained into the members of the society so they won’t just stop acting this way on their own accord. Arresting and convicting these men will send a message that their actions are not tolerated and aren’t right despite what they were taught.


 It also amazes me that this stance exists because the modernized area were also told these stories at one point too. The only explanation I have for the differences is that the more modernized areas are more welcoming of the freedoms seen in the West. To be clear though, the freedoms are more of a western trait. Thus globalization in this instance might have actually helped the positive result of the police force come about because of the positive influence seen in the Western countries economy and life style when they let women have more freedom.


Unfortunately, globalization can’t completely solve rape just yet. The article ends by asserting that to report rape “is a very difficult thing in the Indian context.” Yet, reporting rape anywhere is hard to do. In fact, the mention of 1 in 10 under reported rapes is a statistic similar to that of the United States. Similarly, many victims will refuse to cooperate or even contemplate taking their own life to avoid testimony (in fact many do). In either situation, most rape victims feel they lost their “honor.”  I am not sure when reporting rape or how reporting rape will ever become any easier. However whichever country can figure it out will need to show the rest of the world how. As I do look forward to the day that globalization could decrease rape on a large scale. 

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Op-Ed: "Anti-Vehicle Bullying"

Op-Ed: "Anti-Vehicle Bullying" | Geography Education |
Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver’s director of transportation, has a lot of nerve trying to spin a tale that the city’s new transportation plan isn’t “focused on a war on the car.” He should walk across the street from city hall to Yuk Yuk’s comedy club...

Not everyone (especially not the author of the linked editorial) is a fan of Smart Growth and other urban planning paradigms that promote alternative forms of transportation (categorized in the editorial as anti-vehicle bullying).  


Questions to Ponder: Does Vancouver's planning seem "anti-vehicle" to you?  Are some places "anti-cycling" or "anti-walking?"  What would these places look like? What do you see as the best transportation model for our cities?  

Tags: transportation, urban, planning, sustainability

Lauren Moss's comment, November 3, 2012 12:20 AM
Thanks for sharing a very interesting perspective on a very relevant issue... I think LA exemplifies an 'anti-pedestrian/cycling' city, though the factors (historic patterns of development, social + cultural issues, etc.) that contribute to this condition are varied and complex. In a similar vein, though I advocate smart growth principles, implementation definitely has its own complexities, as expressed in the Op-Ed above. Regardless, always glad to learn more about the topic- appreciate the share!
Betty Denise's comment, November 3, 2012 10:53 AM
Thanks for commenting