Black Friday GPS

If you took a look at the sales flyers in the newspapers for the Black Friday sales you have seen that this is apparently the year of in-car navigation devices. Every sales flyer from Best Buy to Walgreens had at least one device on sale with many of the stores offering multiple devices at great prices. A few of the manufacturers I remember seeing include Tom Tom, Mio, and Magellan and of course there were plenty that weren’t named as well. Either way this a great trend and hopefully lead to some of the navigation technologies from Asia making their way to the West.

Happy (US) Thanksgiving

turkey jesseTo those of you in the states who have the day off, I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable day. For those of you working…I’ve been there and empathize with you. Gone are the days when t-giving was a work day only for emergency staff, pizza drivers, chinese takeout, and entertainment folks (theaters and blockbuster), now it is just an extra day in the holiday shopping season. So a special thanks goes out to those who put in the hours while I sit and eat.

Those of you outside of the US, get back to work 😉

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

New Poll: Holiday desires

With Black Friday only days away and the holiday gift buying season well underway for many we were wondering what you Geography thing you want for the holidays. The options we are offering up are:

  • Compass and Map – Navigate the old fashioned way or accent a room
  • A trip to… – Who doesn’t want to get away for the holidays
  • GPS – Admit it, you are a geek and you want a new toy
  • Huggable Planet – Stuffed delight that can double as a pillow
  • Uses of Geography

    Time to wrap it all up with Element 6: The Uses of Geography. That’s right it is the last day people and it is time to consider how we can apply Geography and spatial thinking to help us understand what has happened in the past, what is happening around us now, and how we can use that information to plan for the future.

    Standard 17 – How to Apply Geography to Interpret the Past, is the standard that is closest to my own background and the research that I work on. Historical Geography is a subdiscipline of Geography that focuses on understanding how people in the past created and modified the cultural landscapes around them, as well as identifying and interpreting the spatial aspects of historical events and processes. Within the last decade, a number of geographers and historians have begun to develop the subfield of Historical GIS, which utilizes GIS as a tool in understanding historical problems.

    However, Geography can also be a powerful conceptual framework for understanding the present, as Standard 18 – How to Apply Geography to Interpret the Present and Plan for the Future, is trying to highlight. Geographers work on problems and issues in a wide range of topics from urban planning, to social and community issues, to hazards research. In each case, understanding how people utilize and inhabit space and place, as well as understanding their interactions with the physical environment around them, helps us to develop interpretations of these processes. Taking these interpretations a step further, we can actually begin to develop long-range models and plans to help us meet future challenges, such as global warming, population pressures, pollution, and disaster planning.

    Hopefully you have taken some time to consider these 6 elements and 18 standards during this Geography Awareness Week. From our overviews and the materials available from National Geographic and the NCGE you hopefully have an idea of how these standards might impact Geography education in K-12 and beyond to college and university. They can not only support education but to create a better prepared geospatial workforce.

    Environment and Society

    Element 5: Environment and Society is tied to human-environment interaction and the first two standards are essentially mirror images.

    How Human Actions Modify the Physical Environment

    How Physical Systems Affect Human Systems

    16) The Changes That Occur in the Meaning, Use, Distribution, and Importance of Resources

    The goal of Standard 14 is to consider the impact of how we, the human species, affect, change, and/or modify the physical environment. Perhaps the most telling example of this impact is the increasing evidence that the planet is warming, and that warming is being accelerated by human processes and resource usage. Global warming became center stage when the Nobel committee recognized Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. However, global warming is only one example of how humans impact the physical environment around them every day. For example, water is one of the most vital resources on Earth, and human population pressures and pollution are seriously threatening people’s access to fresh water.

    Standard 15 is the mirror of 14 with a focus on how physical systems affect humans. One of the more obvious examples of this can be seen in natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, avalanches, etc). Beyond the extreme events of natural disasters, there are everyday examples of how physical processes impact the way we live our lives. To take the example of water again, access to fresh water plays a crucial role in where people can live. In fact, the combination of weather patterns over the last few years and increased consumption from rising populations has led to drought and conflicts over water in both the southeastern and southwestern United States.

    We close the day out with Standard 16, in which the role of natural resources is considered. To use our water example from above, the increasing populations in warm areas of the United States have magnified the importance of water as a valuable commodity due to its scarceness. However, in other areas of the world such as the monsoon areas of Southeast Asia, where the climate and weather patterns are different and rainfall is overabundant, water can actually be a hindrance to local human populations. It is important for students to recognize the importance in not only managing natural resources but also in understanding the differences in meaning, use, and distribution of those resources in different contexts.