This story map will introduce you to ways to get the most out of my Geography Education websites. Updates are available on social media via Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. For articles specifically about regional geography (GEOG 200) can be found here.
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)
“While Pennsylvania only has two teams, the state’s team allegiance is split across seven different teams.”
There are some good geographic concepts that can be used by showing this map (based on SeatGeek purchases). In this related map of baseball fan regions (based on social media connections), we can see more clearly the value of the core-domain-sphere model. This map uses the brightest color intensities to represent the core regions and the lightest hues to show waning strength, but to still signify that the area is a part of a team’s sphere of influence. Essentially, this map is begging you to explore the borderlands, the liminal “in-between” spaces that aren’t as easy to explain. What patterns do you see? Explanations?
“We offer a variety of resources on U.S. Export/Import Trade with the World with millions of free datasets.” Source: U.S. Trade Numbers
This data visualization tool is very reminiscent of the Atlas of Economic Complexity. While the Atlas of Economic Complexity is better for exploring global trade patterns, this site adds a local impact to the global economy. Users can explore the major port of entries and see what goods are entering or leaving the United States from particular cities as nodes in global transportation networks. The permeability of borders are an economic necessity to take advantage of the economies of scale.
I was delighted to have Dr. Alexander (Alec) Murphy be our professional development night speaker. He was one the members of the very first test development committee that made the idea of AP Human Geography to become a reality. His talk spoke about that history of the early days launching APHG, and the all-important topic, GEOGRAPHY: WHY IT MATTERS. His passion for geography education was only matched by his incredible teaching style that had the audience enraptured (he kindly shared this PDF of his slides with us).
NIGHT OF THE ROUND TABLES: Friday evening, June 7th we had our annual “Night of the Round Tables” event. This event was designed to create a place to share new ideas, pick up lesson plans, discover new resources, and develop strategies for teaching geography. Presenters had 15 minutes to present. Below are the digital copies of the presentations and the handouts that they wanted to share (more will trickle in, so check back if you don’t see something immediately):
Every year, it is a delight for me to watch the AP Human Geography reading and see how all the moving parts come together to do far more than any one individual could do by themselves. It truly is an honor to be the Chief Reader of such an excellent group of dedicated geography educators who are so professional and passionate it is amazing to watch all the moving parts come together. It couldn’t happen without such dedicated, professional, and passionate geography educators all working together.
“This study explores Chinese language policy and language use in Inner Asia, as well as the relation of language policy to the politics of Uyghur identity. Language is central to ethnic identity, and official language policies are often overlooked as critical factors in conflict over ethnic nationalism.”
A while back I wrote this blogpost for the National Geographic Education Blog about the Uyghur people of Eastern Turkestan. The cultural policies of assimilation that are working to erase Eastern Turkestan and more fully make it Xinjiang are politically powerful, but the situation is more pressing that most people today realize. This academic article, The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse, is an excellent primer to the cultural and political complexities of this place with two names where East Asia and Central Asia meet. For a more general audience, this BBC interactive (as well as this NY Times article) is the update to understand how extensive the human rights violations are as re-education camps/detention centers have been used in the last few years to hide away political dissidents and those practicing tradition Uyghur (Uighur) customs. The video below from the Economist also highlights how the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have not been able to participate in China’s recent economic growth as fully because of governmental policies. According to U.S. State Department, the number of people forced into these camps is at least 800,000, but potentially over 2 million.
Walkable cities improve the local economy and many cities are working to improve their walkability. Cities can improve sidewalks, decrease parking lots, beautify storefronts and add other amenities that encourage walking. Neighborhoods that are very walkable often have a vibrant sense of place. This article (and the embedded video) nicely explain many issues surrounding walkable urban environments.
“Despite 25 years of democracy, South Africa remains the most economically unequal country in the world, according to the World Bank. If anything, South Africa is even more divided now than it was in 1994 as the legacy of apartheid endures. Previously disadvantaged South Africans hold fewer assets, have fewer skills, earn lower wages, and are still more likely to be unemployed, a 2018 World Bank report on poverty and inequality in South Africa found.”
This CNN article takes a shocked tone, but that removes South Africa from it’s historical and geographic context even if the outcome is unfortunate (as a bonus for educators, the article has a GINI reference in its analysis with the data charts). Time’s cover story is more detailed and nuanced. In the late 1980s, the apartheid system was becoming untenable; the injustices and discontent make the apartheid government unable to govern. Both the government and activists recognized that change was necessary and compromises were needed to allow South Africa to move from the apartheid system of racial separation to nonracial democracy without falling apart.
The post-apartheid government guaranteed that while political power would be transferred, economic power would still stay ensconced in the hands of the land-owning elites, since there was to be no massive land redistribution. Neighboring Zimbabwe had disastrous land redistribution attempts and everyone wants to avoid economic chaos. Land reform will be be a key issue in tomorrow’s election (see this BBC article for more election issues).
"Colombia is currently dealing with a massive wave of refugees coming from Venezuela. Venezuelans are fleeing their home because of a severe economic crisis under President Nicolas Maduro. There are high inflation rates and there isn’t enough food available for people within Venezuela to even eat. Thousands of Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge located at Cúcuta every day and Colombia doesn’t seem to be turning anyone way. This borders episode looks at why Colombia doesn’t turn away these refugees, the shared history of the two nations and how there may be a limit to Colombia’s acceptance of incoming Venezuelans."
The Vox border series is one of Youtube series that is the most infused with geographic themes and concepts. If you haven’t yet discovered this yet, this episode is a great introduction to current issues in both Colombia and Venezuela. This is also a curious case because it gets so close to the line of what we consider voluntary and involuntary migration.
"A generation ago, long before Modi (and the BJP) was in power, right-wing Hindu nationalist leaders in Maharashtra state renamed Bombay as Mumbai — a nod to the city’s patron goddess Mumbadevi. Other cities followed: Madras became Chennai; Calcutta, Kolkata; Bangalore, Bengaluru. All the changes were a rejection of Anglicized names that came into use during British colonial rule. In the most recent wave of name changes, it’s not about erasing colonial monikers. It’s about erasing Muslim ones."
Both examples show that the cultural landscape, including the names on them, are not just a passive reflection of the cultures that have shaped these places; they manifest the power dynamics of competing cultural groups seeking to assert their vision of place and culture to be physically manifested in public spaces.