The 99 Percent Invisible podcast is an excellent one for geography teachers as well as students. So many episodes deal with the unspoken things that make our world the way it is—unnoticed architecture and design with a heavy dose of urbanism and the built environment. The particular episode has four “mini-stories” and each of them has some compelling geographic/landscape component to it.
- Jake Purcell Park (Public spaces, memorialization, and historical memory)
- The Hollywood Sign (Google Maps, Negative impacts of tourism, local resistance)
- Raccoon Resistance (Invasive species and Buddhist temples)
- Witch Windows (Local Architecture in the US South and Hong Kong’s Dragon Windows)
Also for you, here is a another great podcast with some trivia nerdiness from Ken Jennings (the Jeopardy champ who authored Maphead and presented at NCGE) is part of the Omnibus Project, a podcast with some geographic nuggets (disclaimer: the language and content for this podcast is not always classroom-friendly). Here are some geographic episodes about Alexander von Humboldt and Induced Demand (traffic), the Qibla, the Blue Men of the Sahara, the Port Chicago Disaster, Bir Tawil, the Sentinelese, and the Darien Gap.
“The rich were the first to leave. They wired their savings abroad and hopped on international flights. The middle class departed next. They went on buses, sometimes riding for days across several countries. The poor remained. They stayed as the economy collapsed, food got scarcer, medicine shortages turned deadly and the electricity cut out for days at a time. But finally, they too began to exit Venezuela. They simply walked out. The departure of the caminantes, or walkers, began slowly in 2017 with young men hoping to find jobs and send money home.
Now women and children, the sick and the elderly also are taking their chances, expanding an exodus that already is one of the biggest mass migrations in modern history. Each day an estimated 5,000 people flee.” SOURCE: LA Times
The economic, political, and demographic crisis in Venezuela might not be at the top of the headlines anymore, that that isn’t because the situation has gone away, but it just has become ‘normal.’ This article is an in-depth look at the lives of those fleeing Venezuela on foot into Colombia.
It is incredibly cold in New England right now. How can maps help us to understand the weather patterns we are facing? How is what we are facing in our community connected to global patterns? Maps help us to contextualize information and understand processes. So to investigate this our freezing wind conditions we will look at a series of online resources.
- Dynamic Wind Map of USA (Visualization).
- Interactive wind map (Ventusky).
- Interactive wind map (WindyTy).
- Digital Globe with Wind patterns (Null School)
“In the United States, the most popular last name is Smith. As per the 2010 census, about 0.8 percent of Americans have it. In Vietnam, the most popular last name is Nguyen. The estimate for how many people answer to it? Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the country’s population. The 14 most popular last names in Vietnam account for well over 90 percent of the population. The 14 most popular last names in the US? Fewer than 6 percent.” SOURCE: ATLAS OBSCURA
So many things are cultural beyond language, religion, and ethnicity, but those are the biggies in book chapters and in the curriculum. Should you strike up a conversation with that stranger in the elevator? How far from home is it appropriate for children to go from the house unattended? What clothes are appropriate for a teacher to wear in the classroom? These are all questions about cultural norms, but we don’t think about them as cultural at times because we are so used to our own cultural context that it seems natural. The importance of last names and naming conventions aren’t natural but are created by cultural norms and institutions.
So here’s the condensed version from Atlas Obscura:
The entire idea of a family name was unknown to most of the world unless you were conquered by a place that used them. Those conquerors included the Romans, the Normans, the Chinese, and later the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Germans, and the Americans. It was the Chinese who gave Vietnam family names.
The last name, in Vietnam, is there, but just isn’t that important. And when it’s not that important, you might as well change it if a new last name might help you in some way. This may or may not be a continuation of the way names were used before the Chinese came—we really don’t know—but ever since, Vietnamese people have tended to take on the last name of whoever was in power at the time. It was seen as a way to show loyalty, a notion which required the relatively frequent changing of names with the succession of rulers. After all, you wouldn’t want to be sporting the last name of the previous emperor.
“This tradition of showing loyalty to a leader by taking the family name is probably the origin of why there are so many Nguyens in Vietnam,” says O’Harrow. Guess what the last ruling family in Vietnam was? Yep, the Nguyễn Dynasty, which ruled from 1802 to 1945. It’s likely that there were plenty of people with the last name Nguyen before then, as there were never all that many last names in Vietnam to begin with, but that percentage surely shot up during the dynasty’s reign.
This is a flippant, silly video (with some language that you might not want young kids hearing), but it shows that the speakers of the same language can still has some have some significant barriers to understanding each other. Dialects of a same language have different pronunciations but also distinct vocabulary that is often place-specific. Dialects and accents create variety in cultural geography that makes traveling around the world enticing and exhilarating because there is always something else to learn about this crazy Earth.
Global fertility rates have been steadily dropping since 1960 and South Korea is probably the best example to use to discuss the rapid shifts in this trend (Bloomberg article “The Global Fertility Crisis” and NY Times article “End of Babies” are a good global overview that came out recently). Above is the 2019 NCGE presentation that shows how to use the National Atlas of Korea in the APHG classroom using population as the prime case study (here are the powerpoint, slideshare, and PDF version). Below is a post previously published here with supplemental resources on this exact topic for greater context.
South Korea is the world’s first country to have a total fertility rate below 1 (in 2019, it dropped to 0.98). It may not be the largest population of the 86 declining populations (114 countries have TFRs above replacement level), but it makes for an incredibly important case-study to explore emerging demographic patterns because in the coming years, it probably won’t be the only country with a TFR below 1.
South Korean governments at multiple levels have implemented some pro-natalist policies (tax-benefits, cash incentives, maternity leave, paternity leave, etc.), and the TFR continues to drop. The economic reasons for this demographic decline make it a textbook example of a highly-developed economy where raising children is very expensive in a post-industrial, overwhelmingly urban context. However, I think more time should be spend investigating the cultural patterns that led more and more young adults to either postpone child-rearing or skip it all together. In South Korea, as in other countries, marriages are becoming more infrequent, but the social stigma associated with raising a child out of wedlock remains very strong (only 2% of births are to unwedded mothers). Many women returning to the workforce find that child-care options are limited they struggle to find the same wages that they had before they started a family. Even before without children though, women in South Korea are confronted with the highest gender wage gap among OECD countries. As reported in the WSJ, “South Korea has a strong economy, fast internet—and a big gender gap.” Korean work culture expects long hours, after hours social gatherings, and other practices that make it difficult to workers, but especially women, to find a manageable balance between having a career and a family. Many corporations are reluctant to hire/promote/mentor women that might conceivably conceive and leave the company.
Today, many Korean families see having no children as the only way to survive/improve their quality on life given the economic and cultural context within which they are operating. The government has been pouring millions of dollars to reverse this pattern but the fertility rate continues to drop. The video below gives an introduction to the issue.
This video provides a more in-depth look into the issue (turn on the closed captioning)
Good resources to understand South Korea’s Declining population:
National Atlas of Korea: Population Projections.
QZ: South Korea’s birth rate just crashed to a new alarming low
CityLab: South Korea is trying to boost its birth rate. It’s not working.
“Data from IMF, World Economic Outlook, April 2019“
There are many stories in this video in the nearly 40 years of economic history of South America since 1990.The two most important stories portrayed (or at least the most dramatic) in the animated chart are decline of Venezuela’s economy and the rise of Chile’s. This video can act as a primer to get students to consider the regional context of economic growth as well as the differing historical, political, and geographic context that leads to distinct results in any given country.
“Explore the Masters of Tradition story map. Discover the rich diversity of cultures and artistic traditions that enliven our nation. Meet extraordinary artists from across the country who have been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor for excellence in the folk and traditional arts. Together they represent a remarkable portrait of America’s diverse cultural heritage.” SOURCE: ESRI
This is an excellent StoryMap that to shows examples of local and indigenous cultures that are being practiced by some in the United States. The NEA Fellowship also shows how preserving local and indigenous cultural traits in the face of popular cultural influences is difficult and is seen as a national priority and part of a treasured cultural heritage. Also, read this article on how to plan a good storymap.
“On balance, people around the world are more accepting of refugees fleeing violence and war than they are of immigrants moving to their country, according to a new analysis of public opinion data from 18 nations surveyed by Pew Research Center in spring 2018.” SOURCE: Pew Research Center
We know that there are diverse perspectives on migration in our own country, but it is important to remember that our country’s conversation is also a part of a global conversation. As many developed countries are trying to limit some of the permeability of their borders, and as economic migrants seek to improve their economic opportunities, the immigration debates become more central to Since there has been As the Pew Research data shows, in North America, the immigration discussion and the refugee discussion have converged, where in countries such as Greece they are very much different conversations.
Questions to Ponder:
- Why might the immigration and refugee assistance questions elicit a greater distinction in European countries (such as Germany, Italy, and Greece) then it did in North American countries (such as the U.S. and Canada)?
- What are some impacts of the convergence of the political conversations surrounding immigration and refugee assistance for the United States and its policies?
% who support taking in refugees:
🇪🇸 ESP 86%
🇳🇱 NED 83
🇩🇪 GER 82
🇸🇪 SWE 81
🇫🇷 FRA 79
🇲🇽 MEX 79
🇨🇦 CAN 74
🇬🇧 UK 74
🇦🇺 AUS 73
🇬🇷 GRE 69
🇯🇵 JAP 66
🇺🇸 US 66
🇮🇹 ITA 56
🇵🇱 POL 49
🇿🇦 SA 48
🇷🇺 RUS 41
🇮🇱 ISR 37
🇭🇺 HUN 32https://t.co/8yTIWXgRRi
— Pew Research Global (@pewglobal) October 26, 2019