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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

Author

sethdixon

I am a geography professor at Rhode Island College.

Europe’s Population Change (2001 to 2011)

The map provides a level of detail previously unavailable. It is the first ever to collect data published by all of Europe’s municipalities.

Source: www.citylab.com

Questions to Ponder: What regions can you identify as a part of a trend?  What possible factors have led to these patterns?  What are the long-term implications of this data? 

 

Tags: Europe, declining populations, population, demographic transition model, models, migration. 

 

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The World Bank is eliminating the term “developing country” from its data vocabulary

“In the 2016 edition of its World Development Indicators, the World Bank has made a big choice: It’s no longer distinguishing between ‘developed’ countries and “developing” ones in the presentation of its data. The change marks an evolution in thinking about the geographic distribution of poverty and prosperity. But it sounds less radical when you consider that nobody has ever agreed on a definition for these terms in the first place. The International Monetary Fund says its own distinction between advanced and emerging market economies “is not based on strict criteria, economic or otherwise.” The United Nations doesn’t have an official definition of a developing country, despite slapping the label on 159 nations. And the World Bank itself had previously simply lumped countries in the bottom two-thirds of gross national income (GNI) into the category, but even that comparatively strict cut-off wasn’t very useful.”

Source: qz.com

Labels and categories are so often problematic, but they are also necessary to make sense of the vast amount of information.  Regional geography is inherently about lumping places together that have commonalities, but acknowledging that many differences from place to place makes the world infinitely varied and complex.  Since we can’t process an infinite amount of complexity, we categorize, for better or for worse.  In education, we are continually trying to show how some categorizations fail, hoping that our students will categorize the information they receive in better ways (non-racist ways for example).  The regional terms we use–Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, etc.—impacts how we think about the world.  Each of those terms highlights a few similarities and ignores some important differences.  The terms More Developed Countries (MDCs), Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs), and Less Developed (LDCs) is how many people have socioeconomically categorized the world’s countries, some preferring developing countries instead of LDCs because it less stigmatizing.  In 2015, many at the World Bank have thought that the term “Developing Countries” obscures more than it reveals.  In 2016, the World Bank removed the term from its database since there are more differences than similarities in the economic structures and trajectories of developing countries.         

 

Questions to Ponder: What are some of the major problems that you see with the term developing country?  Even with its problems, what utility is there in the term?  Will you keep using the term or will you abandon it?  How come? 

 

Tagsdevelopment, statistics, economicindustry.

Why is Bulgaria’s population falling off a cliff?

What is life like in the country projected to have the world’s fastest-shrinking population?

Source: www.bbc.com

This is a good case-study to show how demographic decline coupled with economic decline, with exacerbate problems with a  consistent out-migration flow.   

 

Tags: Bulgaria, declining populationpopulationmigration.

Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language?

There are 7,000 languages spoken on Earth. What are the costs — and benefits — of our modern-day Tower of Babel?

Source: freakonomics.com

These two podcasts are great mainstream looks at issues that filled with cultural geography content.  So many languages on Earth is clearly inefficient (the EU spends $1 billion per year on translation), and yet, linguistic diversity is such a rich part of humanity’s cultural heritage.  Listen to the first episode, Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language? as well as the follow-up episode, What Would Be the Best Universal Language?

 

Tags: languagecultureworldwide, English, regions, diffusiontechnology.

The Rohingya in Myanmar: How Years of Strife Grew Into a Crisis

Life has long been fraught for a Muslim minority in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, but the recent “ethnic cleansing” has sent Rohingya fleeing en masse.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Many students have asked the question “Who are the Rohingya?” The Muslim minority group, concentrated near the Bangladeshi has a long history of marginalization. Its members lack full citizenship in Myanmar (Burma), and many in Myanmar deny that the Rohingya are a native ethnic group, claiming that they are recent Bengali immigrants. Now, fierce clashes between security forces and Rohingya militants left hundreds dead and entire villages torched to the ground. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled over the border into Bangladesh.

 

Tags: migration, politicalconflict, refugeesBurma, Southeast Asia.

Pakistan’s traditional third gender isn’t happy with the trans movement

For centuries, South Asia has had its own Khawaja Sira or third gender culture. Now, some third gender people in Pakistan say the modern transgender identity is threatening their ancient culture.

Source: www.pri.org

Sometimes our assumptions about a society, and how they might react to cultural issues are just that…assumptions.  I for one was very surprised to learn that Pakistan had a a traditional third gender. 

 

Tags: culture, developmentpodcast, genderPakistansexuality, South Asia, religion.

Homeland of tea

“China is the world’s biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. Different regions are famous for growing different types of tea. Hangzhou is famous for producing a type of green tea called Longjing or the Dragon Well tea. Tea tastes also vary regionally. Drinkers in Beijing tend to prefer jasmine tea while in Shanghai prefer green tea. Processing raw tea leaves for consumption is a time and labor-intensive activity and still done by hand in many areas in China. The Chinese tea industry employs around 80 million people as farmers, pickers and sales people. Tea pickers tend to be seasonal workers who migrate from all parts of the country during harvest time. In 2016, China produced 2.43 million tons of tea.”

Source: www.bostonglobe.com

Tea, the world’s most popular beverage, doesn’t just magically appear on kitchen tables–it’s production and consumption is shaped by geographic forces, cultural preferences, and regional variations.  These 21 images show the cultural, region, and environmental, economic, and agricultural context of tea.  

 

Tagsimages, foodChina, East Asia, economic, labor, food production, agriculture.

Washington Journal Tim Frazier Discusses Hurricane Irma Disaster

https://www.c-span.org/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.swf?pid=433726-4
//www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?433726-4

“Georgetown University’s Tim Frazier talks about the federal government’s management of disaster relief related to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.”

Tim Frazier is not only a fantastic geographer with an expertise in disaster management, he was also my volleyball partner on the “Bad Latitudes” team at Penn State.  Good job Tim; great geographic insight and context to understand the response efforts.

Tags: disasters.

Disaster Mapping: Hurricane Irma, Mexico Earthquake and Bangladesh Floods

This week has seen disasters and destruction on an unprecedented scale, and the HOT Community has activated to respond. Hurricane Irma is the largest Hurricane ever recorded, and has torn death and destruction through the Caribbean. Destruction on some islands is estimated at 95%, affecting the lives of 1.2 million so far, and on track to cause severe destruction across the entire Florida State, where mass evacuation is currently underway. Barbuda’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, described the damage as absolutely heart-wrenching. ‘The island is literally under water and barely habitable,’ Browne said. ‘About 95% of properties are damaged, there is a serious threat of disease. Additionally, those already affected by Irma fear a second brutal battering by Hurricane Jose.'”

Source: www.hotosm.org

Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action?  Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency.  Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets.  My students and I join OpenStreetMap (OSM) projects, especially when there is a major humanitarian need…it’s a great way to make service learning and geospatial technologies come together. The projects that are marked urgent by the Red Cross are all in Haiti right now.  Here are is a video playlist that explains the project and how you can help if you are new to OpenStreetMap (OSM).

 

Tags: disasters, mapping, edtechSTEM, weather and climate.

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