University Re-Imagines Town And Gown Relationship In Philadelphia

Drexel University is taking a hands-on approach to redeveloping one of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods with a new center designed to serve not just students but mainly local residents.

Source: www.npr.org

This NPR podcast shows a good example of an urban revitalization project that is actively trying to avoid following the gentrification path.  Growing colleges can unintentionally displace longtime residents, but this project is about preserving the cultural fabric of the neighborhood and building good will in the community. 

Tags: neighborhoodpodcast, gentrificationurban, place, culture, economicracepoverty.

4 animations that show what’s really going on with our climate

“Trying to understand what’s actually going on in the world’s climate seems like it might be truly impossible. For one thing, there are so many different factors at work. Everything from how light travels through the atmosphere to how the winds move the ocean around to how rain hits the ground has an effect on what actually happens on Earth both now and in the future. That also means there’s absolutely no use in looking at each piece individually … to understand what’s really going on, the climate jigsaw puzzle needs to be complete.

That, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, is where climate modeling comes in. The discipline synthesizes data from multiple sources, including satellites, weather stations, even from people camping in the Arctic and submitting measurements of the ice they see around them. Climate modeling, Schmidt says, gives us our best chance of understanding the bigger picture of the world around us. ‘We take all of the things we can see are going on, put them together with our best estimates of how processes work, and then see if we can understand and explain the emergent properties of climate systems,’ he says. These four silent animations show what he means.”

Tags: physical, weather and climate, Arctic, Antarctica, climate change.

Source: ideas.ted.com

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Worldwide Country Comparison

MyLifeElsewhere allows you to compare your home country with different countries around the world. Ever wonder what your life would be like if you were born somewhere else?”

Source: www.mylifeelsewhere.com

Did you know that with 1/30th the territory of the United States, Norway still has over 25% more coastline?  I didn’t either until I compared Norway to the United States using My Life Elsewhere.  This site is designed allow United States students to imagine how their lives might be different if they were born in a different part of the world.  Student would probably die 21 years earlier if they were born in Liberia and 11 times more likely to have died in infancy.   Students would be 43.8% less likely to grow up and be unemployed and have 36.3% less babies if they were born in Taiwan.  This side-by-side format is a great way to help students help make these statistics real and meaningful.  One major drawback: this site only allows users to compare a country to the United States.  If you prefer to have students compare, say Cuba to the United Arab Emirates, I would recommend that you try If It Where My Home.

Tags: comparison, worldwide, statistics, development.

Finding and Using Spatial Data Sources

“Data is great, but working with numbers can be intimidating. We have more data than ever before that is available to us, and graphs, charts, and spreadsheets are ways that data can be shared. If that data has a spatial element to it, the best way to visualize a large dataset might just be a map.”

Source: blog.education.nationalgeographic.com

I hope you enjoy this article I wrote about GeoFRED, a way to visualize economic statistics.  All of my future articles for National Geographic Education will be archived here at this link

Tags: National Geographicdevelopment, statistics,  economic, mapping.

How American Agriculture Works

There really are two different Americas: the heartland, and the coasts….

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

These maps together show that most of the grain from the American breadbasket does not directly on the table but into the feed trough.  I imagined before I saw this data that the percentage of animal feed in the Midwest would be higher than the rest of the United States, but I would not have guessed that it was that high. 


Tagsfoodeconomicfood production, agribusiness, agriculture.

The colourful propaganda of Xinjiang

“China is in the midst of a crackdown on what it describes as ‘terrorism driven by religious extremism’. The campaign is focused on the western province of Xinjiang, home to China’s Uighur ethnic minority who are predominantly Muslim.”

Source: www.bbc.com

China does not have a good track record of dealing with ethnic and religious minorities and the murals that can be seen in Xinjiang are a testament to that fact.  This has led to many Muslims in Western China being attracted to more radical ideas.  While I certainly don’t condone radicalism nor China’s heavy-handed tactics, I am fascinated by the cultural messages that are strategically being placed in the landscape to influence the politics and culture of the region.  

Tags: political, conflictgovernance, China, East Asia, religion, culture, Islam, landscape.

Simulation of the Oso Landslide

“The large landslide that occurred in March near Oso, Washington was unusually mobile and destructive.”

Source: www.usgs.gov

There are several reasons for landslides–some are purely a result of physical geography and others are related to land use patterns.  The landslide in Washington state last year was a combination of the two (see on map) and it is a good teaching moment to discuss the environmental impacts of land use patterns and resource extraction projects.  As seen in this interactive, the river was cutting at the base of the hill, while loggers were clear-cutting at the top of the mountain.  Trees help prevent erosion as the roots hold the soil in place–a critical piece to the puzzle in a very rainy climate.  With $1 million worth of timber on the slope, logging companies persisted despite objections from the Department of Natural Resources and some restrictions (but in hindsight, those restrictions clearly were not enough).  Watch a simulation of the landslide here.  

View the impact in ArcGIS online: Before and After Swipe, LiDAR I and II, and Imagery.

Questions to Consider: Other than economic worth, what other ways are there to value and evaluate the environment?  How could this landscape have been protected and managed better or was this landslide inevitable?   


Tagspolitical ecology, resources, environment, environment modify, industry, physical, geomorphology, erosion, landforms.