Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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Spotify data shows how music preferences change with latitude

Spotify data shows how music preferences change with latitude | Geography Education |

"The farther from the equator, the greater the seasonal swings."

Seth Dixon's insight:

I’m not posting this in spite of its controversial nature—I am sharing this precisely because it raises eyebrows.  Many have read this and see elements of environmental determinism while simultaneous recognizing some of its core assumptions.  Arctic communities have devastatingly high suicide rates that most agree is in part impacted by the cold weather, the lack of sunshine, or in other words, the physical environment.


Questions to Ponder: How much environmental determinism actually is in this research and its assumptions?  How much does latitude impact the human condition?  How much of a factor is the environment in shaping cultural patterns?  How would you adapt to the physical environment if you lived north of the the Arctic Circle? 


GeoEd Tags: environment, musicArcticenvironment adapt, unit 1 geoprinciples. Tags: environment, musicArctic, environment adapt, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

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How geography shapes international politics

How geography shapes international politics | Geography Education |
Tim Marshall explains how world geography colors national development and foreign relations.
Seth Dixon's insight:

I haven't read the book yet, but am interested to see how Tim Marshall handles the topic to see it is a nuanced telling of how geographic impacts politics or if it strays into environmental determinism.  Based solely on the reviews it should be worth a read and my copy is on it's way. 


Tags: book reviews, historical, geopolitics.

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How being surrounded by water made the Dutch different

How being surrounded by water made the Dutch different | Geography Education |
While researching a book on ‘Why the Dutch are Different’, Ben Coates realised that an amazingly large number of the things which an outsider might think of as ‘typically Dutch’ could be explained at least in part by a single factor: water.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Cultural, political and economic patterns of a region are heavily influenced by the environmental settings.  Occasionally though, geographers can get overly-cautious when discussing how the environment can shape culture, worried about straying into realm of environmental determinism.  However, environmental factors can profoundly influence cultural attributes.  This article shows how Dutch cultural attributes such as diet, history, politics and landscape are influenced by their maritime physical setting. 


TagsNetherlands, culture, place, water, environment.

asli telli's curator insight, October 15, 2015 1:37 AM

What is "typically" #Dutch? #sea #saltwater #sailing #trade #ancient #heritage

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 7, 2015 9:50 AM

unit 3

Sarah Nobles's curator insight, November 27, 2015 7:55 AM

Environmental Determinalism....Unit 3

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How harsh environments make you believe in God (or gods)

How harsh environments make you believe in God (or gods) | Geography Education |
A new study links climatic instability and a lack of natural resources to belief in moralizing gods in cultures around the world.
Seth Dixon's insight:

I’m not posting this in spite of its controversial nature—I am sharing this precisely because it has raised eyebrows.  Many have read this and seen elements of environmental determinism in the cultural analysis of religions (despite the researcher’s insistence that their findings should not be taken as a form of geographical determinism).

While there appears to be a correlation between a belief in moral god(s) and a harsh environment, others could also look at this map and see the mapping of poverty, colonialism or historical evangelism.  Environmental determinism was used to justify colonialism and racist ideologies, geography fully rejected anything with even a hint of environmental determinism.  Geographers are hypersensitive to the critique of environmental determinism; that is why it is difficult to find modern geographic research that knocks on the door of determinism. 

Questions to Ponder: How much environmental determinism is in this research?  What alternatives exist to environmental determinism?  How much of a factor is the environment in shaping cultural patterns? 

Tags: environment, religion, culture,  unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Scott Langston's curator insight, November 16, 2014 6:25 PM

Inspiring faith? Is God an environmental construct?

Kelli Jones's curator insight, December 2, 2014 1:06 AM

This article talks about how where we live can influence our religion. I couldn't agree more. Although I have been an active member of a church for a long time now I can't help but think that if I didn't live in the US I wouldn't be a Christian. If I were born in China for example I may not even know the name Jesus Christ. That's a scary thought. 

Molly McComb's curator insight, March 21, 2015 3:59 PM

This shows how different cultures have adapted to harsh environments 

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How Geography Explains the United States

How Geography Explains the United States | Geography Education |

Via Emma Lafleur
Seth Dixon's insight:

Questions to ponder: How much do you agree with the author's assertion that geography explains the foreign affairs of the U.S.?  Is there any environmental determinism in this argument?  

Mary Patrick Schoettinger's curator insight, April 18, 2013 9:39 AM

There are so many facets to geography and the United States has certainly benefitted from all of them; from location to abundant natural resources to cultural histories. I think this is a good introduction to the topic.

Louis Culotta's comment, April 18, 2013 12:41 PM
I would think that the united states treats Canada a lot better at than in Mexico because of the border issues that exist because of people trying to smuggle drugs or people into America from Mexico continues to be abig problem with the US goverment.
Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 1:48 PM

I think the very last paragraph of this article is one of the truest statements about America that I have ever read.  "There's so much good America can do in the world." This is absolutely true because as the author covered, the U.S. is very good at getting involved in foreign affairs and we are extremely lucky to have the borders that we do.  We're safe on this side of the globe, a world away from the places that have suffered religious and political turmoil for centuries.  

However, the citizens of the U.S. often remain marginally uneducated about out foreign affairs because of the portrayals by the media and the many covered up mistakes that the U.S. has made.  The author of this piece noted America's three major faults as pragmatism, idealism, arrogance and ambivalence.  The United States is ultimately the most conceited country in the world but it's not entirely the fault of its citizens.  U.S. media's job is not necessarily to report the truth but report the fractions of truth that will continue to inspire nationalism, even if that means leaving out the fact that many problems around the world have been increased due to America's participation.

The author of this piece pointed out America's habit of only joining in when it is beneficial for our country, even if it is not in the best interest of the people we are helping.  We offered assistance to the reformers in Egypt but ignored problems raging in Bahrain.  The U.S. has only limited understanding of many of the old, traditional cultures that reign in parts of the Middle East but that does not stop the country from trying to help and often, looking foolish or inciting more unrest.

We have grown to feel very safe in on our side of the planet and regardless of the few attacks that have penetrated America's defense, we still have a very limited world view because there are no threats from our neighbors and it is okay to be whomever you'd like to be (technically speaking because racism, sexism, and homophobia are still rampant in this country) without threats from people around you.  It would be in our country's best interest to educate ourselves on world events and other cultures to be well rounded and less offensive to those who suffer in other regions. The author called America's belief that the problems between Israeli's and Palestinians would resolve with a classic Hollywood happy ending a part of America's problem with idealism and not understanding what it is like to have neighbors who want to dive in during the midst of horrible wars and take whatever they can get their hands on.   Having the borders that it does, it was never a real threat that the U.S. faced. 

I think this article is spot on with the problems in U.S. foreign policy and how geography affects our culture and our ideas of how the world works.

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Environmental Possibilism Vs. Environmental Determinism

Environmental Possibilism Vs. Environmental Determinism | Geography Education |

"Environmental possibilism and determinism are theories, put forth in order to comprehend and understand the role played by the physical environmental conditions in the emergence and progress of any human culture or society in a particular location."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This article outlines differences between environmental determinism and environmental possibilism.  Authors such as Robert Kaplan (Revenge of Geography---see a review here) and Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) have been accused of being too environmentally deterministic.  Read Jared Diamond's retort to his critics here. 


Questions to Ponder: In what ways does the environment shape human culture(s)?  Why is Jared Diamond critical of skeptics who use the phrase ‘environmental determinism?’Why might some of Kaplan’s ideas as well as the ideas of classical geopolitics be considered ‘environmental determinism?' Can the role of physical geography be overstated in culture, economics or politics? Give three examples when it might be inappropriate. 


Tags: environment, religion, cultureunit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, September 13, 2016 12:42 PM

This article outlines differences between environmental determinism and environmental possibilism.  Authors such as Robert Kaplan (Revenge of Geography---see a review here) and Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) have been accused of being too environmentally deterministic.  Read Jared Diamond's retort to his critics here. 


Questions to Ponder: In what ways does the environment shape human culture(s)?  Why is Jared Diamond critical of skeptics who use the phrase ‘environmental determinism?’Why might some of Kaplan’s ideas as well as the ideas of classical geopolitics be considered ‘environmental determinism?' Can the role of physical geography be overstated in culture, economics or politics? Give three examples when it might be inappropriate. 


Tags: environment, religion, cultureunit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Ivan Ius's curator insight, January 12, 2017 3:01 PM
Geographic concepts: Interrelationships, Geographic Perspective
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Russia and the Curse of Geography

Russia and the Curse of Geography | Geography Education |
Want to understand why Putin does what he does? Look at a map.

As things stand, Putin, like Russian leaders before him, likely feels he has no choice but to at least try to control the flatlands to Russia’s west. So it is with landscapes around the world—their physical features imprison political leaders, constraining their choices and room for maneuver. These rules of geography are especially clear in Russia, where power is hard to defend, and where for centuries leaders have compensated by pushing outward.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Calling this environmental determinism might be a stretch but so is some of the vocabulary (I take it with a grain of salt because the analysis is sound).  This article though certainly puts Russia's physical geography at the forefront of the geopolitical analysis of Russia's move's in both Syria and Ukraine.  Their strategic interests become much more comprehensible in light of their geographic challenges

Tags: UkraineRussia, geopoliticspolitical.

Diana Morey's curator insight, February 11, 2016 9:24 AM

good reading for political geography

brielle blais's curator insight, March 25, 2018 10:24 PM
This article connects to geography because it shows the importance of the physical geography of a country when it comes to natural defense from invaders. Russia, from at least the south and southeast, are very hard to invade. This is thanks to Ivan the Terrible, who expanded the territory of Russia and gained better natural barriers such as to the east to the Ural Mountains, south to the Caspian Sea, and north toward the Arctic Circle. Now, Russia needs to figure out how to control the flatlands to the west, which is why Putin wishes there were mountains east to the Ukraine.
David Stiger's curator insight, October 21, 2018 12:02 PM
Russia's geographic situation appears to greatly influence, perhaps even determine, the Russian state's political behavior. The world's largest territorial country has a number of geographic disadvantages that have caused Russia to act aggressively in securing its territory. Firstly, it lacks warm-water sea ports as the ones it has access to in the Arctic Ocean freeze for long periods of time. The area of their Pacific Ocean seaport has been commercially dominated by Japan. Secondly, Russia extends across an open European plain which is largely unguarded to the south and southeast of Eurasia. Similar to its southeast region, Russia's western front has few if any natural defenses leaving it wide open to European encroachment. The only natural barriers Russia has going for it are the Ural Mountains cutting down the middle of Russia, the Arctic to the north, and its territorial vastness along with a harsh, cold climate that makes foreign invasion challenging - but not impossible. Geographically then, Russia is highly insecure. Seeing itself as a major world power, Russia struggles to access the sea for trade and is unnerved by its massive open border. This explains why Moscow was very pleased with a pro-Russian government in Kiev but became extremely nervous when Ukraine toppled its government selecting a pro-Western, NATO-loving administration. Even if NATO and the EU did not intent to directly confront Russia, the two organizations certainly planned to transform Ukraine and influence the region - leaving Russia feeling exposed. Despite its aggressive nature, Russia went on the "defensive" and annexed Crimea in order to secure its coveted seaport while also locking down a buffer zone between itself and the West who could march through Ukraine. It was surely brazen and unethical, but the geography explains the logic behind Putin's move.  
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Most Tibetans Genetically Adapted To The High Life

Most Tibetans Genetically Adapted To The High Life | Geography Education |
Ninety percent of Tibetans share a genetic mutation that prevents their blood from becoming dangerously clogged with red blood cells at high altitudes—a response that can be deadly for non-native mountaineers. Karen Hopkin reports.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Genetic adaptations to a specific environment show how people are can be culturally and environmentally tied to a given land.  While most geographers are nervous to mention examples such as these for fear of being labeled too 'environmentally deterministic,' it does not hurt to show how that it is possible.  The fear of having your ideas be labeled and environmental determinism shouldn't stop us from exploring the human/environmental interface. 

Tags: environment, environment adapt, East Asia.

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, April 15, 2015 9:45 AM

This is extremely interesting.  When I think of the mutated gene that most Tibetans have I think of evolution happening right in front of our eyes.  Most lowland humans would not be able to survive at the Tibetan level of living, which goes to show you that over time the people who live in this area were naturally selected due to the special genes of their ancestors who survived while others without the gene died off.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 1:01 PM

The Tibetans are very amazing in the ways to adapting to high altitudes. Being 15,000 ft in elevation with 40% less oxygen than at sea level is very impressive. Many people like myself would find it difficult breathing in this conditions , but the Tibetans developed a mutation that lead them to not having their red blood cells clogged at this elevation. A perfect example of human adapting to their surrounding environment.

David Stiger's curator insight, October 23, 2018 11:28 AM
Humans often shape their environments, but, like all other animal species, the environment can fundamentally shape human beings at the molecular level. In order to not just merely survive, but to thrive, humans adapt to challenging environmental conditions. In Tibet, inhabitants live 15,000 feet above sea level. For non-natives, this sort of altitude could cause lethal blood clots. To overcome this challenge, the genes of average Tibetans have adapted overtime. Some 90 percent of the entire population possess a unique mutated gene that allows them to breathe without trouble and avoid red blood cell blockages. This trait goes back nearly 8,000 years, making Tibetans a very distinct population - akin to red haired men and women in Ireland. Not wanting to promote pseudo-science like eugenics, it is important to note that these people are not more or less human. But, because of their environment, they have surface level (physical and secondary) traits that help them cope with nature. Understanding this should impact the Han Chinese views of Tibet. At the molecular level, the Tibetans are a distinct and independent people who deserve the right to self-determination. Of course, China will never yield the resource-rich territory. 
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Geopolitics and the New World Order

Geopolitics and the New World Order | Geography Education |
Geography increasingly fuels endless chaos and old-school conflicts in the 21st Century.
Seth Dixon's insight:

I know that many academic geographers weren't pleased with the environmental determinism in Robert Kaplan's book The Revenge of Geography and the attention that in received in mainstream media outlets like the New York Times (mainly for it's reduction of geography to physical geography and it's acceptance of maps as pure truth).   In this article in TIME by Robert Kaplan, he highlights how geographic context is vital to understanding global politics...that is something we all can agree on even if we don't like the particulars of his analysis. 

Adilson Camacho's curator insight, March 30, 2014 8:12 PM

Como Diz Milton Santos: "O retorno do território"! Que, aliás, nunca deixou de estar no centro dos acontecimentos ... 

 O insight de Seth Dixon:

Sei que muitos geógrafos acadêmicos não ficaram satisfeitos com o determinismo ambiental no livro de Robert Kaplan A Vingança de Geografia e a atenção que em recebido em meios de comunicação tradicionais, como o New York Times (principalmente por sua redução de geografia para geografia física e é a aceitação de mapas verdade tão pura). Neste artigo em TEMPO por Robert Kaplan , ele destaca como contexto geográfico é vital para compreender a política global ... que é algo que todos podemos concordar, mesmo que nós não gostamos de os elementos de sua análise. 

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Guns, Germs & Steel

Guns, Germs & Steel | Geography Education |

This video (like the book with the same title) explores the course of human history to find the geographic factors that can help to explain the global inequalities between societies. Jared Diamond’s answer lies in the military strength (guns), superior pathogens (germs) and industrial production (steel) that agricultural societies were able to develop as the critical advantages over hunter/gatherer societies. The raw materials at the disposal of the societies inhabiting particular environments partially explain the economic possibilities before them. Diamond hypothesizes that the orientations of the continents play a critical role in the relative advantages among agricultural societies (East-West orientations allow for greater diffusion of agricultural technologies than North-South orientations since the growing seasons and ecology are more compatible), giving Eurasia an advantage over Africa and the Americas. The Fertile Crescent had native plant and animal species ideal for domestication, which then diffused to Europe. Societies that have more developed animal husbandry develop a resistance to more powerful germs. Consequently, when two societies come in contact those with the best resistance to the worse diseases are more successful. Similarly, industrial production depends on an agricultural surplus since specialization requires that some workers not needing to produce their own food to work on technological innovations. Societies that had agricultural advantages were able to invest in technologies (primarily steel) that would enhance their advantages over other societies, as seen during colonization. Societies that had the best environments had access to large plant eating mammals suitable for domestication and the most productive grains would be poised to produce more dangerous guns, germs and steel—the key resources for economic dominion resulting in global inequalities.

Diamond’s critics argue that the ‘geography hypothesis’ is environmental determinism that does not properly value human choices into the equation. Still, the core of this book is the search for connections between the themes of Geography with a spatial framework and the video is available via Netflix, public libraries and many other outlets.

Emily Bian's curator insight, October 3, 2014 5:16 PM

I found this just browsing the suggestions, and I was like "Whoa! We learned this in class!" So I thought that it was really neat. 

Diamond's theory is an example of environmental determinism, because he claimed that the environment and where people lived affected the people, and that's why not everybody is equal. 

I personally agree with his theory, because it makes a lot of sense when I watched the movie/episodes.

             I believe in enviromental determinism but not to the extreme level, for example if someone is from a hot place they are lazy. I believe that people have choices and can pave their own way but the enviroment can limit them. This would for sure help future aphug students because it introduces human geography in the world history context.