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How Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars

"Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians."

Source: www.youtube.com

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.   

 

GeoEd Tags: urban, place, neighborhood, transportation, planning, urbanism, architecture.

Scoop.it Tags: urban, place, neighborhoodtransportationplanning, urbanism, architecture.

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South Africa is the world’s most unequal nation

“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.”

Source: edition.cnn.com

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).     

GeoEd Tags: South Africa, Africa, race, ethnicity, political, economic.

Scoop.it Tags: South Africa, Africarace, ethnicitypolitical, economic

Why Colombia has taken in 1 million Venezuelans

"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."

Source: www.youtube.com

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. 

 

GeoEd Tags: South America, Venezuela, Colombia, borders, migration, poverty.

Scoop.it TagsSouth America, Venezuela, Colombia, borders, migration, poverty.

 

India Is Changing Some Cities’ Names, And Muslims Fear Their Heritage Is Being Erased

"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."

Source: www.npr.org

Indian officials have been altering toponyms to be more Hinducentric; this is a results of growing Hindu nationalism as an important element of modern Indian politics.  In another thematically similar, but regionally distinct example, we can see how place names matter in American cities.  When large corporations (like Google or Amazon) move in to a city,  the corporations might try to rename the neighborhoods and, in a sense, rebrand the place.    

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. 

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, political, place, toponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.

Scoop.it Tagsculturepolitical, placetoponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.

 

Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

"After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on the planet. But its benefits mask enormous dangers to the planet, to human health – and to culture itself. Our blue and green world is becoming greyer by the second. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world with up to 2.8bn tonnes."

 

GeoEd Tags: industry, sustainability, consumption, climate change, environment, architecture, resources.

Scoop.it Tags: industry, sustainability, consumption, climate change, environment, resources.

Source: www.theguardian.com

Bir Tawil – the land that nobody wants

There’s a patch of land between Egypt and Sudan that no country owns. Why? Can anybody claim it for themselves? (No.)

Source: www.youtube.com

VIDEO SOURCE: If it’s new to you, the Map Men YouTube channel is very entertaining with fun, quirky, interesting trivia, but most importantly, these videos are rooted in geographic concepts.  The Map Men, as Chris Fitch wrote, "tap into a rich vein of geographical quirks to teach through comedy."

 

VIDEO CONTENT: Both Sudan and Egypt claim the rightful border between their countries should include the Hala’ib Triangle on their side of the border.  This leaves Bir Tawil unclaimed and it pops up in the news when those hoping to create a micronation claim it.  This bizarre case exemplifies some important principles of political geography with a tangible example to test the limits of political sovereignty and what it take to be called a country.  If discussing the elements necessary to create a state, this article would help fuel a discussion, especially when some people are eager to create their own micronation.    

 

GeoEd Tags: mapping, fun, video, political, Sudan, Egypt.

Scoop.it Tags: mappingfun, video, political, Sudan, Egypt.

Will the Supreme Court End Gerrymandering?

"Justices will be reviewing the case of North Carolina, where Republicans drew a map to maximize their power in the House. Plaintiffs challenging the map say it’s unconstitutional. A companion case centers on Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which Democrats admit they redrew in 2011 to make it harder for the Republican incumbent there to win re-election. The two cases hold the potential to set the course of American politics for generations."

Source: www.nytimes.com

Questions to Ponder: Do you trust the politicians that are in charge of your state to create better districts than a computer-generated set of districts that are optimized for compactness?  What are some of the potential limitations of compact districts?  Would an independent committee/bipartisan group do a better job?

GeoEd Tags: gerrymandering, political, mapping, cartography, unit 4 political.

Tags: gerrymandering, politicalmapping, cartography, unit 4 political.

The demographic time bomb that could hit America

"Japan’s demographic crisis provides some lessons for where America might be headed."

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

This op-ed looks at the demographic trends of Japan’s declining population and tries to see what this might mean for the United States. 

Questions to Ponder: What are the cultural and economic forces that lead to a declining population? What are some of the difficulties that confront countries with declining populations? 

 

GeoEd Tags: declining population, population, USA, Japan.

Scoop.it Tags: declining populations, population, USA, Japan.

China’s hidden camps

What’s happened to the vanished Uighurs of Xinjiang?

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

A few years ago, I wrote an article for National Geographic’s education blog about Eastern Turkestan, and the policies of cultural assimilation that the China is using to more fully make this place become Xinjiang.  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.  This video from the Economist 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.        

GeoEd Tags: Central Asia, culture, China, East Asia.

Scoop.it TagsCentral Asia, culture, China, East Asia.

   

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