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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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statistics

Geography and the Coronavirus

APRIL 6
GIS Dashboard screengrab from April 6th

There are far too many geographic issues that stem out of the Coronavirus pandemic to create anything close to comprehensive, but I wanted to share some of the articles that caught my eye recently because they touch on particularly geographic themes.  So, this will not give a global overview, predictions, or breaking news, but some of the underlying issues and questions that we are now grappling with as so many are now in some form of self-isolation.

MAPPING: The best, introductory-level walk-through of how to map the Coronavirus uses ArcGIS online, and has interactive layers that are updated daily, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel for every time new data gets released.  If students are familiar with ArcGIS and already have an account, this is worth having them explore it to learn cartographic techniques.

ENVIRONMENT: There are a host of unintended consequences in natural systems, and when one part of the system, gets altered, there are some down-stream impacts.  This article in the Atlantic discusses some of the environmental impacts of the mass shutdown of normal human activities (1-less pollution, 2-less seismic activity, 3-quiter urban environments).

DEVELOPMENT: The impacts of COVID-19 are clearly uneven; countries and cities that are the most globally connected might benefit usually economically from these connections, but are facing one of the times that this connectivity is a threat to the community.  India, by and large through March 2020, managed to avoid making global headlines, but as the world’s second largest population with some incredibly dense megacities, many are asking how the Coronavirus will impact India in the coming weeks.

URBANIZATION: In the United States, the densest counties have been the most impacted by COVID-19 while rural areas have need been as heavily impacted (by and large—rural counties with ski resorts are one prominent exception to this generalization).  Some are discussing urban density in the time of a pandemic, and there are calls to rethink densely populated cities.  This article from CityLab also discusses the density as a key issue in the transmission of disease, but it is quick to point out other factors that lead some hyper-dense cities to effectively control the spread as well.

CULTURE: To wear a mask, or to not wear a mask?  Why is this a question that seems so controversial?  As more time goes by, we see that wearing a mask to prevent the spread of a disease is not just a medical issue, but also a cultural issue.  Some cultures are uncomfortable with the idea of covering part of face in public and some react against the concept because of the cultural connotations that go along with mask-wearing.  Other societies see if as a prudent way to do your civic duty.  Many are reconsidering their cultural norms that they associate with masks as COVID-19 continues to expand into more communities.

DIFFUSION: This video centers on the beginnings of the spread of the Coronavirus and the origins in Wuhan.  I’m very sensitive to the fact that many discussions about its origin in China can quickly go down some racist paths.  This Vox video explains the wet markets of China as a likely source of infectious disease without veering into racist assumptions.  This interactive from the NY Times explains how the disease spread beyond China.

Stay healthy, stay safe.  I miss other humans, and being social.  I think everyone wishes things were different, but geography and spatial analysis is one of the key lenses that we need to come out on the other end of this.  I hope that we can come out of this more united as members of the human race with a greater resolve to work together to solve global issues.

GeoEd Tags: medical, mapping, GIS, statistics, mortality.

Tools for Student Projects

In many geography classes, teachers will assign students a country to help them gain some depth about one particular country as a way to explore economic, demographic, cultural, political, and environmental issues.  These are some data visualization tools that deals with big data; the listed tools are some of my favorite in part because they can easily to incorporated to an ArcGIS StoryMap (especially in the Map Journal template).

  1. Economic (introductory data): Dollar Street from Gapminder

The best comparison and the most relatable thing for students to see in other countries is real people, leading regular lives.  Dollar Street brings the economic realities of other places without some of the of the negative stereotypes or romanticizing far-away places.

DollarStreet

  1. Economic (advanced data): Observation of Economic Complexity

Understanding global trade and economic data can feel overwhelming, but fortunately there are online tools that help us to visualize complex economic data. The “VISUALIZATIONS” are my favorite things to see on this site.  The Observation of Economic Complexity is MIT’s companion website to the Atlas of Economic Complexity (Harvard’s version of the same data visualization–here is my tutorial on how to use the Atlas of Economic Complexity).

OEC

 

  1. Demographic (introductory data): Population Pyramid

Populationpyramid.net creates interactive, population pyramids that can be downloaded as image with the raw data also available for download.  Simple, powerful, easy.

Nepal PP

  1. Demographic (advanced data): Gapminder Tools

Gapminder is a tremendous resource that I’ve shared in the past and total fertility rates is an ideal metric to see in this data visualization tool.  This is one of the best ways to visualize global statistics.  The world is changing–see how.

GapminderTools

Mapping the Coronavirus

CoronaVirus

“We are tracking the COVID-19 spread in real-time on our interactive dashboard with data available for download. We are also modeling the spread of the virus.” SOURCE: GIS and DATA at Johns Hopkins University

UPDATE: ESRI has also created a GIS dashboard for the COVID-19 virus that complies an amazing amount of spatial data in a user-friendly format that is definitely worth your time.  Also, this article titled “Why Geography is a Key Part of Fighting the COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak” is another example of that shows the importance of spatial thinking in interdisciplinary contexts.

After several inaccurate maps spread misinformation (dare I say, in a viral fashion?),  I felt it would be important to not only share some good maps, but the most data-rich maps as well.  Some U.S. west coast cities, such as San Francisco, are declaring emergencies in anticipation of an outbreak. The Tokyo Marathon has been cancelled (except for the elite runners), and some are worrying out loud about whether the 2020 Tokyo Olympics games might face a similar fate.  This article nicely explains just how contagious the COVID-19 virus actually is…(short answer, it’s pretty contagious).

The video below covers 3 major economic impacts that the virus will have on the global economy.  In short, 1-Tourism and Travel, 2-Supply Chains, and 3-Flight to Quality Goods.

My favorite source is a GIS dashboard from John Hopkins that is incredibly detailed.  This is a great way to show how big data, mapping, and geography become very relevant.  Here is a link to the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) page about the Coronavirus and a copy of their map (accurate as of Feb 24) in the image below.

outbreak-coronavirus-world
Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

GeoEd Tags: medical, mapping, GIS, statistics, mortality.

Political support for refugees as compared to immigrants

Immigration Refugee

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?

GeoEd TAGS: migration, refugees, statistics, USA.

 

U.S. Trade Numbers

thailand-trade

“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.

GeoEd TAGS:   statistics, transportation, globalization, industry, borders, economic.
Scoop.it Tags: statistics, transportation, globalization, industry, economic, borders, mapping.

Why China Ended its One-Child Policy

"China has huge ambitions for the 21st century. But it’s demographic problems will be a significant challenge on the way there."

Source: www.youtube.com

I know that YOU know that China ended the One-Child Policy, but many incoming college freshman have a world view about population that is a generation behind on many of the current population trends.  This video discusses most of the APHG population topics using China as the world’s most important population case study–that makes this video excellent to show in a regional or human geography course.

 

GeoEd Tags: China, population, industry, development, statistics, economic, video, APHG.

Scoop.it TagsChina, population, industry, development, statistics, economic, video, APHG.  

The Enlightenment Is Working

"Don’t listen to the gloom-sayers. The world has improved by every measure of human flourishing over the past two centuries, and the progress continues, writes Steven Pinker."

Source: www.wsj.com

This is a great article that only reiterates what was said in Hans Rosling’s Book, FACTFULNESS, that the world is getting better. 

Scoop.it Tagsstatistics, development, perspective.

WordPress Tags: statistics, development, perspective.

Factfulness

"The three authors of Factfulness explain why they decided to write the book that is now available in 24 languages."

Source: www.youtube.com

I just finished Hans Rosling’s book, Factfulness.  It was an absolutely delightful read (who wouldn’t want to imagine hearing Hans Rosling’s voice while relaxing on the beach?).  So much of the populace have outdated paradigms about the world and too many have an overly pessimistic worldview that everything is getting worse.  This is why FACTFULNESS is so needed day.  This term is used to describe a fact-based, data-driven worldview that is not overly dramatic, or fear-based.  In so many ways, the world has been consistently getting quantifiable better; this derived from an optimistic perspective, but a factful understanding of the world today.  This book is his clarion call to understand the world as it actually is and is the culmination of his professional achievements.  Now that he has passed away, it feels like a major part of his lasting legacy.  If you’ve ever used his TED talks, Gapminder, the Ignorance Project, or Dollar Street resources, this is a must read.

 

Tagsstatistics, models, gapminderdevelopment, perspective, book reviews.

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.

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