Happy Geography Awareness Week!
When I was a young student, I was originally given the impression that geography was about memorizing the map of Canada along with its provinces and territories. Towards the end of high school, I was told by family members who had studied geography at university that there was so much more to the discipline than I could have ever imagined. It was then when I truly realized geography was much greater than simply memorizing names on a map and I applied to study geography in university.
In an attempt to change the perceptions of geography for young students, Geography Awareness Week (Geoweek) was created by National Geographic Education Programs. Taking place annually during the third week of November, this year GeoWeek is from November 12th to the 18th and is celebrating over 25 years of Geography awareness.
In elementary and high school, I did not realize geography had such a wide range of topics, from the physical environment where one can learn about different species and ecosystems to learning about political geography and how place has a major impact on the space around you. Geography even covers the topic of urban planning in cities and expands into rural areas where the study of soil moisture and climate change impact agriculture, food and farmers in rural regions.
After completing almost four years of geography courses in university, I finally understand the importance of so many different topics within geography that I did not know existed. For an example, physical geography is extremely important as it contains many aspects which help us to understand the different layers of physical environments on the earth. From pollinators and aquatic organisms to different processes of the hydrogen and nitrogen cycles, all these subtopics can fit together as one within physical geography. Human geography can involve anything from population indicators/statistics, urban planning within cities, rural agricultural planning, political figures and how they affect different locations. This also involves environmental justice where acts of environmental racism are contested. There are so many additional types of geography such as social geography, hydrology, economic geography, climatology, behavioral geography and geomorphology which all have their own courses at the university level.
I wish I was given the opportunity to learn from organizations such as EcoSpark when I was in elementary or high school as it would have most certainly opened my eyes and made me more aware of the wide scope of geography. EcoSpark’s programs focus on the environment and how humans interact with it. Starting now until the end of February, EcoSpark will be offering different workshops and webinars for teachers in order to help them better understand the forces shaping our local landscapes and communities, ultimately connecting everything back to growing sustainability within our province. Keep up to date with different opportunities being offered by EcoSpark by visiting the website and signing-up for the e-newsletter.
In the spirit of Geography Awareness Week, I encourage you to go out and talk about the importance of geography to friends and family in an attempt to open people’s minds to everything geography has to offer. By doing so this week and future GeoWeeks, we can have present and future students’ lining up to enrol in Geography courses within schools.
Here’s a geography joke as an icebreaker to the conversation:
What do maps and fish have in common? They both have scales!
This blog was contributed by guest writer, Michael Trinetti. Michael is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto studying Geography and Sociology. He has an ongoing interest in how surrounding environments ultimately impact cities and people living in them. Michael is currently an academic intern at EcoSpark.