Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What is the World's Deadliest Animal to Humans? Depends on How and Who You Count

Bill Gates released a chart showing the deadliest animals to humans.

Diseases spread by mosquitoes such as dengue, malaria, Rift Valley fever, yellow fever, and West Nile make this flying insect a plague to many.

The chart on the surface looks good.  It cites the World Health Organization and other reputable sources.  It shows just how deadly mosquitoes are compared to the stereotype killers such snakes, sharks, and other killing animals.  However, the 475,000 homicides by fellow humans is too low when you count abortions.  There are up to 42 million abortions a year.  When one factors in abortion the 3 mosquito-caused deaths for every 2 homicides changes to 1 mosquito-caused death for every 58 homicides.  Quite a dramatic changed. as we remain our own worst enemy. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Week Geography: The Cosmos Gathers in Jerusalem for Passover/Good Friday

Unlike the scattered disposition of people during the first advent, the cosmos was centering on Jerusalem.

Herod Antipas

The Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea ruled the rump of his family's kingdom.  All left under his direct control was Galilee to the north and Pera (modern-day western Jordan).  His family of Jewish gentiles were a vague shadow of the great kings like David and Solomon.  He was in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  Ultimately, he would represent how some people completely waste away God's gifts.

Pontius Pilate

The Roman governor of Judea represented the Emperor Augustus by ruling the Holy Land directly for Rome.  Jerusalem was his capital and the influx of Jews from across the Empire, Arabia, and Persia for the Passover celebration required his direct oversight.  Pilate represented the might of worldly powers but his violence and ultimately cowardliness represented the limits of worldly gains.

Joseph Caiaphas

The high priest of the Temple lived, worked, and prayed in Jerusalem.  He would need to oversee the Passover.  During his time on Passover/Good Friday, Caiaphas shows the tragedy of making religion an ideology and political calculations while ignoring the divine.


The Christ entered Jerusalem knowing what was going to happen.  While some like Caiaphas feared Jesus would use Passover to start a revolution, but instead He came to complete the feast.  He would also turn the focus of the faith from the city of Jerusalem to the universal Jerusalem

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Beach Science

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

The Tampa Bay Times has an article about Dr. Stephen Leatherman and how he scientifically measures the quality of beaches.  It makes me enviousness of his field research.  There were many times in Afghanistan when I wished I had the dream job of protecting and scientifically caring for beaches.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Does Distance Matter in Distance Education?

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Heng Luo, Anthony Robinson, James Detwiler, and John Dulton of Pennsylvania State University have posted on the internet their quantitative study: Does geographic distance matter in distance education?  Though they only look at the Master's in GIS program at Pennsylvania State for the study their answer makes sense.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Spatialization of Identity in Dubai, UAE

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Addison Miller, graduate student at Ohio Wesleyan University, presented a paper at the Association of American Geographers conference entitled Spatialization of Identity in Dubai, UAE.  Mr. Miller was kind enough to post his presentation online.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Virtual Geograph Convention 2014: What is Wrong with the Geography in Academia in One Tweet

This is what happens when the Association of American Geographers lets anyone present at their annual conference without any sort of review.  This is also what happens when geography is lost as a discipline in academia.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Animated Map of Drone Strikes in the Middle East

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

A animated time-based map discussed at this year's Association of American Geographers conference shows drone strikes and fatalities in the greater Middle East area.

Of a sort of ironic note, the cartographer uses MapStory which was originally financed as a Department of Defense project.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: How Good Government and Education Save Lives in Earthquake-prone Chile

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Dr. John Shroder, professor of geography and geology at the University of Nebraska Omaha, recently published a piece on why mega-earthquakes kill less people in Chile than smaller earthquakes elsewhere.  The easy-to-read In Chile’s earthquake, education was key to low mortality documents how past exposure to large earthquakes, competent government, and education efforts all teamed up together to save lives.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: New Drought Monitoring System

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Dr. Hongixing Liu, a University of Cincinnati  professor and head of the school's geography department, is giving a talk at the Association of American Geographers convention about his new drought monitoring system.  The university released a press release which is reproduced below.

UC Geographers Develop a System to Track the Dynamics of Drought

University of Cincinnati researchers are at work tracking drought patterns across the United States. Qiusheng Wu, a doctoral student and research assistant for the UC Department of Geography, and Hongxing Liu, a UC professor and head of the Department of Geography, will present details this week at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Tampa, Fla.

To trace the dynamics around agricultural drought, the UC researchers implemented an Event-based Spatial-Temporal Data Model (ESTDM) to detect, track and monitor conditions. The framework organizes data into objects, sequences, processes and events.

The data was collected from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite, which was the first of its kind dedicated to measure moisture near the surface of the soil. The study focused on four years of data (2010-2014), which included the devastating Texas drought in 2011 and the 2014 California drought.

The satellite uses an L-band (1.4 Ghz) passive microwave radiometer to analyze the spatial and temporal variations of soil moisture and ocean salinity. “Recent studies have shown that many historical drought events in the U.S. are closely related to La Niña, a phenomenon known for its periodic cooling of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. So in addition to measuring soil moisture for drought monitoring, it is also important to measure ocean salinity,” explains Wu.

The satellite can penetrate the Earth’s surface up to 5 centimeters, providing a soil variable for each pixel, which represents 25 kilometers. The satellite’s data collection occurred over a three-day rotation.

The researchers were examining patterns of spreading drought to develop predictions for future drought events.

“Soil moisture is defined as the ratio between volume of water and volume of soil holding the water, which is expressed in percentages, so high soil moisture indicates wet while low soil moisture indicates dry. 

“By studying the soil moisture data from the satellite, we can see where the droughts begin and end, and what might indicate patterns of how it can spread over one large area. The pattern might be used to predict the drought in another location, so that those areas could take precautions to avoid the impact of an oncoming drought,” says Wu.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – known as the leading international organization for the assessment of climate change – predicted in 2012 that droughts would intensify in some seasons and in many regions worldwide in the future due to reduced precipitation and/or increased evapotranspiration.

 “Drought ranks among the most costly of all natural disasters. It has wide-ranging impacts on many sectors of society, affecting agriculture, economics, ecosystems services, energy, human health, recreation and water resources. By predicting the timing, severity and movement of drought events, we can provide fundamental information for planning and management in developing a response plan,” says Wu.

Future research will involve data gathered from a satellite that NASA is launching toward the end of the year, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. The SMAP satellite integrates an L-band radar (1.26 GHz) and an L-band (1.41 GHz) radiometer as a single observation system combining the relative strengths of active and passive remote sensing for enhances soil moisture mapping. The combined radar-radiometer-based soil moisture product will be generated at about an intermediate 9-km resolution with three-day global revisit frequency. Wu says the accuracy, resolution and global coverage of SMAP soil moisture and freeze/thaw measurements would be invaluable across many science and applications disciplines including hydrology, climate and carbon cycle, and the meteorological, environmental and ecology applications communities.

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society that is dedicated to the advancement of geography. The meeting will feature more than 4,500 presentations, posters, workshops and field trips by leading scholars, experts and researchers. The AAG annual meeting has been held every year since the association's founding in 1904.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Geography Research Could Improve The Effectiveness Of Hospital Patient Transport Services

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.
Dr.  Michael Widener, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of geography, Daniel Schileth, a graduate student at Cincinnati, and other medical professionals are teaming up to analyze the best way to decide how best to transport critical-care patients.  The University of Cincinnati put out a press release discussing the effort and its presentation at this years Association of American Geographers conference.  The press release is reproduced below.

Geography Research Could Improve The Effectiveness Of Hospital Patient Transport Services

Factoring patient transport by air or by land: Technology is providing a firm diagnosis on critical transport times.

University of Cincinnati research is offering hospitals and trauma centers a unique, accurate and scientific approach to making decisions about transporting critical-care patients by air or by ambulance. A presentation this week at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Tampa, Fla., highlights the research of Michael Widener, a UC assistant professor of geography, along with Zac Ginsberg, MD, Maryland Shock Trauma Center; Samuel Galvagno Jr., assistant professor, Divisions of Trauma Anesthesiology and Adult Critical Care Medicine, Maryland Shock Trauma Center; and Daniel Schlieth, a UC graduate student.

The research uses analysis by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to provide information on whether patient transport would be more successful by ambulance or medical helicopter in terms of cost as well as patient care. Early results indicate GIS technology is both accurate and successful in providing estimated transport times to trauma centers.

The study analyzes patient transport data from the Maryland Medevac Helicopter Program, focusing on travel time equal to or less than 60 minutes, the so-called “golden hour” of getting critical-care patients to treatment. Recognized as a national model, the Maryland Medevac Helicopter Program is considered to be one of the largest and most sophisticated air-medical transport systems in the country.

Launched in 1970, the elite system in Maryland is taxpayer funded and operated by state police, with the philosophy that a medical helicopter can transport anyone in the state within the hour. The system is coordinated by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System.

However, the system carries a considerable price tag for its operation and maintenance. One medical trip costs thousands of dollars in operating costs. In 2012, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced a $121.7 million contract for 10 new state-of-the-art helicopters to replace the state’s 11 helicopters, 10 of which were more than 20 years old.

State protocols for operation were updated beginning in 2004 and more policy changes followed a medical helicopter crash in 2008 that killed two state police, a medical technician and a patient. Another patient survived that accident, but was left with severe injuries. The helicopter was en route to the hospital in foggy weather, after picking up two people injured in a traffic accident.

In applying the GIS technology to factor ambulance versus medical helicopter response times, the researchers examined more than 10 years of medical helicopter transports in a five county area surrounding Frederick County, Maryland, over 2000-2011. The data involved 2,200 medical cases.

The technology computed the time of air transport versus ground transport, accounting for distance (and not just a straight line) for ground travel, as well as speed limits – estimating that ambulances would travel 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. “We could also account for slower traffic in our calculations, such as traffic jams or other delays, but we assume that such slowdowns are not a factor, since ambulances can use the shoulder, and traffic will usually clear a path for EMS vehicles,” says Widener.

Based on the analyses of the medical cases in the study, the researchers found that 31 percent of the trauma cases transported by air could have also been transported by ambulance within the “golden hour” of trauma treatment, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars.

“Once a trauma center has decided it needs to accept a patient, the question becomes, how can you most safely get them there? So what GIS, when applied to this medical and clinical decision-making moment allows, is the accurate assessment of the time costs, and we want to take this research into examining how to benefit the patient the most,” says Ginsberg. “We must still take into account the severity of the patient, but from this research, we have the answer to a question that has not been able to be answered accurately: From where you are, how long is it going to take to get to the trauma center?”

“As the system becomes more motivated to fly fewer patients – not just for cost but also for safety – we think GIS is going to play a key role. The technology and analytical methods that Michael has developed for this are going to play a key role in policy decisions and allocation of what is an expensive and limited resource,” says Galvagno.

Ginsberg says that future research might also involve looking into how policy changes and hospital closures changed patterns of utilizing helicopters.

Widener says that GIS has been in existence since the 1960s, and was first developed in Canada to manage land inventory. The popularity of the technology didn’t increase until the rise of personal computers in the late 20th century. Widener says GIS now has a wide range of applications from business operations to transportation, conservation and agriculture, urban planning and more areas.

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society that is dedicated to the advancement of geography. The meeting will feature more than 4,500 presentations, posters, workshops and field trips by leading scholars, experts and researchers. The AAG annual meeting has been held every year since the association’s founding in 1904

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: The Non-Geographic Side of the AAG Convention

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

While serious discussions and geographical topics are discussed at the Association of American Geographers conference continue, the dark side of academia has a presence that continues to stain academic geography.

Twitter only gets a small percentage of the non-geographic, non-mainstream political discussion going on but it is a good sample of the sad state of certain subfields of geography. 

Compare these to the geography of the late Dr. Harm de Blij or what you learned in school or National Geographic.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Rethinking Mapping for Geography Teacher Education

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Stacey Kerr of the University of Georgia is presenting at the AAG her topic of Rethinking Mapping for Geography Teacher Education.  The slides below have the text on her website and it is posted below as well.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Presentation Outline



    The implementation of an effective geography education is dependent upon teachers who can successfully present and engage students with curricular content. Due to a lack of formal geography teacher education programs, most geography teachers are prepared in social studies education programs that rarely delve into geography’s complexity. Thus, many preservice geography teachers are often unprepared to teach a robust and thoughtful P-12 geography curriculum (Schell, Roth, & Mohan, 2013 p. 91). While eventually it may be important to drastically overhaul the preparation process of geography teachers, there are ways that teacher educators can act now in their existing classes to improve the readiness of preservice teachers to effectively teach geography. In light of this thought, this paper explores my own experience with unsuccessful geography modules in a teacher education program, and how the implementation of a reconceptualized hands-on mapping assignment provided unique opportunities for preservice teachers to interact more thoughtfully with geography content.
    Photo by J. Stephen Conn

    1. Context
    2. Theoretical Framework 
    3. Practice
    4. Implications 
    5. Final Words 
    Specifically, this presentation investigates: the context of the study; its theoretical underpinning; the specifics of the mapping assignment; and finally, the implications of thinking with this theoretical framework for geography teacher education and beyond.


    Geography teachers in the United States are rarely prepared through formal geography teacher education programs. In most cases, they major in social studies education since there are very few geography teacher preparation programs in the country. In the social studies education major at many institutions, students take general education classes, courses in pedagogy, methods, and curriculum, and participate in field experiences and student teaching. During this course of study, it is usually only in the methods and curriculum classes that students have the opportunity to learn about how to teach geography (while simultaneously learning how to teach all of the other social studies disciplines). Therefore, in many cases, future geography teachers only have one to two class sessions containing explicit instruction on geography content and pedagogy. This preparation is often inadequate for a preservice teacher to become a successful geography teacher (Bednarz, Heffron, & Huynh, 2013; Schell, Roth, & Mohan, 2013). While systemic adjustments to geography teacher preparation practices might result in better geography teachers in the future, I have an interest in creating interventions within our existing educational structure. In my current position as a teacher educator in a social studies education program, I aim to make the most of the one or two class sessions in which we exclusively focus on geography pedagogy and content. The first few times that I worked with preservice teachers about geography in a curriculum course, I based most of the classroom activities around a discussion. I asked students what their previous experiences were with geography and their responses were what you might expect: they colored in maps, memorized state capitals, and looked at outdated world maps that hung from their classroom walls. In light of their experiences, many people in the class were skeptical of my own teaching when our readings and class discussions were based around the political and controversial nature of maps and the field of geography. The preservice teachers’ false preconceptions about geography were worrisome but not surprising. Research on geography education often cites that many P-12 classrooms have a focus on map work and seldom allow students to engage in critical thought or delve into the why of where (for examples of research, see: Brophy & Alleman, 2007; McCall, 2011; Sharma & Elbow, 2000). Thus, what I was asking students to do during this geography module was likely outside the realm of how they had previously thought about and interacted with geography content.
    Photo by Jill
  4. 4. ME@UGA


    After several of these minimally successfully geography modules, I decided that I needed to adjust my method of intervention. Instead of reading and discussing the controversial nature of maps and geography, I wanted the preservice teachers to experience it. I visualized an assignment where teachers would get outside of the classroom and “do geography.” Although few of the preservice teachers I generally work with have had a geography course past high school, I am of the belief that everyone is a geographer because they are engaged geographic thinking all the time; it is just that students with limited experience in academic geography do not have the language to discuss topics from the field in complex ways. Thus, I created an accessible assignment that used the preservice teachers’ already existing skills to create powerful maps.
  5. 5. WHAT IS "MAPPING?"


    In the activity that I will discuss in the next section of the paper, I see mapping as not only the plotting of points, but also the process of reading, taking photographs, moving through a space, interrogating and inquiring about point clusters on a physical map, discussing ideas with classmates, and forming new and different understandings. This idea is informed through my reading of poststructural and new materialist theory. In the first chapter of their most famous book, A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1980/1987) urge readers to make a map (p. 12). Yet, how they write about maps and mapping is not the same as the traditional sense.


    A map, for Deleuze and Guattari, is not a stable, fixed representation of place, but is productive, performative, in flux, and has multiple entryways. Deleuzoguattarian maps do not aim to represent anything, but instead function as a way to think differently about something. A map can be placed in opposition to what Deleuze and Guattari (1987) call a tracing, or something like a traditional map, which aims to organize, stabilize, and neutralize. Tracings always “come back to the same” (p. 13) whereas maps are “oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real” and is “open and connectible in all of its dimensions” (p. 12). When conceiving of a Deleuzoguattarian map, one considers the discursive, material, and social relations and formations to create “possible realities” (p. 12). Yet, tracings, fixed and stable representations, are always put back on the map to reveal “the dominant discursive and material forces at play” as well as those “forces that have been elided, marginalized or ignored altogether and forces that might have the power to transform or reconfigure reality in various ways” (Martin & Kamberelis, 2013, p. 671). In this sense, Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas about mapping do not get rid of maps as we know them. Instead, these maps become part of a more inclusive and larger mapping project. This reconceptualization of mapping stems from Deleuze and Guattari’s thinking about ontology. Most people understand ontology as the nature of being, but these philosophers think about it in terms of becoming. Mapping, then, is as an active process that charts becoming(s) and not just the current state or something or somewhere. It aims to explore new realms and possibilities. It helps break down binaries and explores how things are not this or that, but can be this and that and many other things all at once. Mapping acknowledges the many entities, processes, and discourses that go into any single second, space, feeling, or thought.
    Photo by John Spooner


    Perhaps the easiest way to imagine this is to visualize a computer screen. When you look at a computer screen, it appears to be stable. Yet, we know that this stability is created by thousands of electrical currents going through tiny LCD cells every millisecond to produce an image. These currents are always moving, but they move so fast that the image on the screen appears to be standing still. This is essentially indicative of Deleuze and Guattari’s idea related to ontology and mapping: everything is always in flux and always changing. Mapping accounts for these changes, versus tracing, which is fixed on the static representation of places and things.
    Photo by zen


    When creating this assignment, I not only wanted to experiment with Deleuze and Guattari’s reconceptualized notion of mapping in practice, I also wanted preservice teachers to do geography, and engage with geography content that would be relevant to their daily lives. I learned through various discussions that most of the preservice teachers in this class had a limited understanding of the social, political, racial, and economic structure of the city. Therefore, the goal for this assignment was threefold. Students would learn something about their local neighborhoods and the related geography content, do geography, and see a teaching practice that they could initiate in their future classrooms. I separated the assignment into three phases that would be conducted before and during our formal geography module. The phases were: reading and context building, exploring and photographing, and, analysis and inquiry.
    Photo by thejaymo


    The first part of the assignment involved several short readings. The preservice teachers read chapters from Jeff Speck's (2012) book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, which introduced students to the idea of new urbanism while also discussing how mobility within a city (transportation, walkability, bikability) impacts the way that people exist in and experience a place. This text served as an accessible baseline introduction to new and complex geographic concepts for the students.
    Photo by A Walker in LA


    Next, preservice teachers went out into the surrounding neighborhoods of our university to find concepts from Walkable City in real life. For example, if they were particularly interested in the idea of bikability in the reading, they might go to a certain area in town that had a bike lane on the road. Then, once they found a representation of that concept in real life, they took a photograph of the concept using Instagram, which not only takes pictures, but also collects geotags (data about the picture’s geographic coordinates). After they had taken the photographs, students included a specific hashtag in their caption of the photograph so that we could collect all the photos together in one collection. Since all of the photographs were geotagged and hashtagged with a specific caption, we were able to easily create a map of where everyone in the class took pictures using the website, Gramfeed. Once the students had explored the town, found concepts as they saw them in real life, took pictures, hashtagged and uploaded them, we had a rich data set and interesting maps that displayed where the preservice teachers saw the concepts from their reading in real life. The data set was not only rich because of the point data that the geotags generated, but also because of the collection of aesthetic images that represented concepts in space, as well as the students' narration of these concepts in place.


    Through the first two phases of the assignment, students became geographers by creating this data-rich map without any formal instruction in GIS or dense theoretical topics. The students created the map by interacting with space and technology in familiar ways. When they returned to the classroom for the analysis and inquiry phase, they had another opportunity to think geographically. As a group, we worked together to review the map, the aesthetic images, and other points of discussion that individual students brought forth.


    A surprising and unintended result occurred during our group review of the maps: students performed crude cluster analyses. They made connections between the clustering of points (and their connected photography), the concept that they represented, and the space in which those photographs were taken.


    For example, students noted that many of the images that represented walkable places were clustered in white, affluent neighborhoods. Conversely, they noticed that the dangerous areas for walking and biking were often in neighborhoods that were largely African American and poor. When students made these comments, we were then able to have in-depth conversations about race, income, and space, which are certainly important to geography but also other social studies disciplines.


    Mapping in this activity was not just the physical plotting of points. Mapping was the reading, movement throughout space, finding a concept in real life, creating an aesthetic object through photography, geotagging the photograph, reviewing the physical map, and engaging in the conversation that was prompted by the map, photographs, and narrations. Through this mapping activity, preservice teachers had the opportunity to experiment with and disrupt the apparent continuity and stability presented in traditional maps through the making of their own. They reconfigured, dispersed, and threaded the reading assignment, their photographs, the GIS map, and their narratives of all aspects together to create a map that focused on change (in perceptions and thinking) instead of stability. When these various texts (photos, narratives, maps) were presented in relation to each other and mapped out spatially and discursively, it helped them think in new ways about the town in which they live. Not only were new understandings achieved, preservice teachers had a platform to discuss their confusions which heightened the complexity of the work, thinking, and experience in which they were involved. Ultimately, this reconsideration of mapping in this assignment allowed us to explore “potential organizations of reality” in students’ daily lives and understanding of geography “rather than reproducing some prior organization of it” (Martin & Kamberelis, 2012, p. 671). It opened up a situation in which there is not just one route or destination, but several. It allowed for new modes of thinking and connections that may not have been possible using another assignment. Perhaps the biggest impact of the mapping was that some of the preservice teachers remarked that they would not have thought prior to this assignment that the daily activities they engaged in were relevant to geography. Some talked about being more interested in the subject area and even admitted that they saw geography in a different light after participating in an activity like this. As such, I see this type of activity, based on experience and already existent student ability, as a more compelling model for teaching geography to preservice teachers, especially within the current structure. When you have such a short time to discuss geography, it requires that you make a large impact and quickly. It is important to note that while this activity took place in a teacher education course, it would easily be extracted to other contexts in which instructors wish for their students to engage differently with geography content and do not feel like they have the amount of time to do the field of study justice.


    Mapping in the Deleuzoguattarian sense is not only compelling for geography teacher education, but also for geography education at large. This type of activity opens up conversations about other ways that geography can be explored by thinking about the flux and change of places and spaces. Deleuze and Guattari give rise to this type of thinking and validate our questioning of norms and the apparently static and the stable. What is frustrating about poststructuralism and new materialism but potentially empowering is that thinkers from these theoretical frameworks do not tell the reader what to do. Instead, they provide the tools to experiment, produce, and interrogate new ideas. While many of these theories come across as dense and difficult, there are so many opportunities and ways to see new possibilities with these ideas in mind. This is similar to how some of the best teachers teach. They present tools to students instead of telling students exactly what to think, how to do something, or what to remember. These teachers give students a toolkit to make sense of the world, not a list of instructions. The want for explicit instructions challenges us daily in teacher education. Preservice teachers are often frustrated because they want teacher educators to give them specific pedagogical methods. They want to know what sorts of lessons and resources they can use in a classroom that will make them feel successful and promote learning amongst their students. While this is certainly a component of teacher education, a total emphasis on this is not practical in the long run. We want to empower students with the confidence to think for themselves so that when they are met with new and challenging situations in their classrooms, they can use critical thinking to deal with the problem, instead of reaching for a pre-fabricated method.
    Photo by JackBet
  16. 16. FINAL WORDS

    Although this paper features just one class assignment, the reconceptualization of mapping has relevance to a whole host of contexts related to geography education. While a teacher educator could go out and recreate this activity with other preservice teachers, this is not my intention. I instead wish to show how we can go about teaching geography in untraditional ways that students are already familiar with to come to new and complex understandings of space and place. Making things relevant to students is important and impactful on their daily lives and their future roles as teachers. If we can work with preservice teachers to do away with some of their false preconceptions of the field of geography, we might have the opportunity to have more thoughtful geography instruction at the P-12 level.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Black, Poor, and Jewish: The Ostracism of Ethiopian Jews in Modern Israel

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Holly Jordan of Virginia Tech’s Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) gave a talk on the ostracism of Ethiopian Jews in Modern Israel.  Jordan was kind enough to post her presentation in full on her website.

The presentation starts out with

The Beta Israel (House of Israel), who currently number 130,000 citizens within Israel, are a unique Jewish community with a continuous history of Jewish practice in Ethiopia dating prior to the birth of Christ. Their status as Jews has been called into question by many communities within Israel; nevertheless, they have always self-identified as Jewish. Since immigrating to Israel, the Beta Israel find themselves caught between what Uri Ben-Eliezer describes as an older “institutional racism” and a “new racism” he refers to as “everyday” racism.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Free Articles from the Journal of Historical Geography

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.
The Journal of Historical Geography is offering free access to certain articles as part of a celebration of the 2014 Association of American Geographers convention in Tampa, Florida.

The top three articles of interest are

The politics of the forest frontier: Negotiating between conservation, development, and indigenous rights in Cross River State, Nigeria

Nigeria's once thriving plantation economy has suffered under decades of state neglect and political and civil turmoil. Since Nigeria's return to civilian rule in 1999, in a bid to modernize its ailing agricultural economy, most of its defunct plantations were privatized and large new areas of land were allocated to ‘high-capacity’ agricultural investors. This paper explores the local tensions associated with this policy shift in Cross River State, which, due to its favorable agro-ecological conditions and investment climate, has become one of Nigeria's premier agricultural investment destinations. It shows how the state's increasing reliance on the private sector as an impetus for rural transformation is, paradoxically, crowding out smallholder production systems and creating new avenues for rent capture by political and customary elites. Moreover, as Nigeria's most biodiverse and forested state, the rapid expansion of the agricultural frontier into forest buffer zones is threatening to undermine many of the state's conservation initiatives and valuable common pool resources. The paper goes on to explain why and how private sector interests in Cross River State are increasingly being prioritized over natural resource protection, indigenous rights over the commons, and smallholder production systems.  [Full article]

American capitalist experiments in revolutionary-era Russia

In this paper I document one particular moment in the making of the United States’ hegemony by tracking the lives of two American businessmen in revolutionary-era Russia. Drawing on a diverse array of archival sources (letters, diaries, photo albums, memoirs), and focusing on the training, practices, encounters, degrees of embeddedness and personal situations of two men (Walter Dixon and Boies Hart), I suggest that revolutionary-era Russia served in some ways as a proving ground for testing the effectiveness of American corporate structure, geoeconomic imaginations, and commercial practices. Although these two businessmen were minor figures in the much larger story of the making of American hegemony, their experiences in revolutionary Russia – experiences that were mediated through geoeconomic imaginations, local knowledge of place, degrees of embeddedness, personal encounters with people, places and networks, early twentieth-century ideals of manliness, and feelings of trust, anxiety, and fear – bring to life the uneven, chaotic, risky, and at times unsuccessful and violent ways that American capital began to move through difference in space. [Full article]

More than this: Liveable Melbourne meets liveable Vancouver

Lessons from two leaders in the liveable cities race, Vancouver and Melbourne, demonstrate that these cities have followed a quite similar development, policy and planning path and now ride the crest of the wave while facing comparable challenges in preparing for the future. Success in urban liveability speaks to the conditions of life for the luckily satisfied few. An urban liveability that is also sustainable is possible but demands thinking about two other groups for whom the city is responsible: those who cannot meet their needs today, and those who will live in the future city. Melbourne offers an exciting notion of what living in the city is for and a sociability in public life that benefits from an intact equity argument at the national scale. Vancouver, by contrast, offers a compelling vision of urban life, for good, throughout the life cycle, one that brings with it an increasingly interactive, partnership-oriented and aspiring relationship between urban residents and their local government. The City of Melbourne is the showpiece, the workplace, and the venue for the young and restless to play. Vancouver has a regional government able to do the heavy lifting of narrowing the urban/suburban divide in metropolitan vision and priorities. In Melbourne, no such metropolitan entity exists, and regional governance is the domain of the state government, protecting established relationships and sharing common interests with big developers. [Full article]

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: The 'Constant Size Neighbourhood Trap' in Accessibility and Health Studies

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.

Julie Vallée, CNRS, UMR Géographie-Cités, gave a talk on the ‘constant size neighbourhood trap’ in accessibility and health studies. This methodology piece looks at how to measure and not measure resource accessibility, specifically using medical access in the greater Paris area.   The abstract is below and her published article can be read online here.

In literature on neighbourhood effects and resources accessibility, the number of neighbourhood resources to which residents may have access are often estimated from spatial units whose constant size fails to account for unique ways residents experience their neighbourhoods. To investigate this ‘constant size neighbourhood trap’, we compared numbers of healthcare resources included in Constant Size Buffers (CSBs) and in Perceived Neighbourhood Polygons (PNPs) from cognitive neighbourhood data collected among 653 residents of the Paris metropolitan area. We observed that residents of deprived and peripheral areas had smaller PNPs than their counterparts. Studying residents assessments of the quantity of neighbourhood practitioners, we then assessed the validity of using PNPs rather than CSBs to estimate number of neighbourhood resources. Lastly, resource inequalities across the Paris metropolitan area were found to be far wider when considering PNPs rather than CSBs.

Using constant neighbourhood delineation can lead to inaccurately measured individual accessibility to neighbourhood resources and to downplay the extent of inequalities in urban resources.

Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Teaching Geography with SpatiaLABS

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.
ESRI is promoting the use of SpatiaLABS, a series of lessons using GIS to teach geography and solve geography problems.  These lessons sound interesting and educational.  I especially support the emphasis of GIS as a tool and the main thing to learn.

ESRI describes the project as
SpatiaLABS are standalone activities designed to promote spatial reasoning and analysis skills. Covering a wide variety of subject matter useful in standard computer-lab sessions and longer term projects, SpatiaLABS illuminate relationships, patterns and complexities while answering provocative questions like "How might visibility have affected political boundaries in ancient civilizations?" or "Is there a connection between ethnicity and exposure to industrial toxins?" or "How worried should I be about the stagnant pond a quarter mile away?"
So what's the role of geographic information systems, GIS, in SpatiaLABS? GIS is merely a tool for revealing those illuminating relationships, patterns and complexities. Students will undoubtedly develop GIS and cartography skills while performing SpatiaLABS, but these are secondary outcomes. SpatiaLABS concentrate on introducing, developing and reinforcing spatial reasoning and analysis skills. Levels of labs
You'll find instructional materials in Microsoft Word and other common formats. Go ahead, change or add self-assessment questions, tweak the context for the analysis, rework the lab to use local data. Customize SpatiaLABS to suit your non-commercial needs.
Available lessons are


Virtual Geography Convention 2014: Kickoff

Welcome to the Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  If you wish to submit to the virtual geography convention please contact catholicgauze [at] gmail [dot] com.
Welcome to the Geographic Travels Virtual Geography Convention 2014!  This is for all geographers and geography ethusiasts who cannot attend the Association of American Geographers annual convention.  If you are at the convention (Twitter hashtag #aag2014) please share with us your presentation so we can post it online.  We are also accepting presentations and guest blog posts from those not at the convention. 

The virtual geography convention is meant to be a giant geographic knowledge sharing free for all.  It is not only meant to enrich readers who cannot be at the convention but also increase the impact of researchers' work.

"Information wants to be free"