Powerful Geography
Conference – 2018

Conference – 2018

National Center for Research in Geography Education (NCRGE)
Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education (GCGE)

International Conference 2018

Powerful Geography

San Jose, Costa Rica

November 1-4, 2018

Conference Theme:

What makes geography “powerful” for teachers, students, and society?

The concept of Powerful Geography has its roots in an international research collaboration known as GeoCapabilities (www.geocapabilities.org). This research has attempted to define those elements of geography that have high analytical, interpretive, and explanatory ‘power’, and what this offers both to an individual’s well-being and to society as a whole.

Powerful Geography is concerned with the relationship between geographic knowledge and the opportunities and freedoms young people stand to gain in life. A Powerful Geography curriculum based on principles of human development and powerful disciplinary knowledge enables young people to think in specialized and distinctive ways about the myriad social and environmental problems defining modern times. This capability afforded by geography education is an argument for ensuring all students have an opportunity to learn geography.

However, many nations face significant challenges in providing geography instruction and access to powerful geographic knowledge in schools. While capacity for geography education varies considerably from country to country, many shared challenges include a pronounced shortage of teachers with geography backgrounds; uneven access to high quality instructional materials and technologies; a lack of research data and evidence-based practices; public perceptions of geography education as offering little more than trivial facts about the world; and a lack of support from government agencies and other important stakeholders.

The 2018 NCRGE/GCGE International Conference aims to advance our understanding of powerful geography and its potential in education by bringing together a diverse international delegation of geographers, geography educators, professional geographers, and education researchers in other disciplines. We invite proposals for papers, panels, and posters related to the conference theme that explore issues and topics such as:



We seek submissions that provide opportunities for participants to learn effective teaching practices and teacher training procedures that implement good acquisition of knowledge in geography. Potential topics include:

  • Introducing powerful geographic knowledge in initial teacher education programs.
  • Engaging non-specialist geography teachers in principles of powerful geography.
  • Approaches to embedding powerful geography in curriculum standards and frameworks.
  • Aligning curriculum standards, instructional materials, and assessment practices.
  • Conceptual models of pedagogical content knowledge and technological pedagogical content knowledge.
  • Innovative technology-based pedagogy, including teaching with geospatial technologies.



We seek submissions that focus on creating strategies to develop capabilities in young people to be active participants engaged in new geographical thinking. Crucially, these strategies should inspire a diverse student population and broaden participation in the discipline and workforce. Potential topics include:

  • Connecting powerful geography instruction with the needs and characteristics of students and their communities.
  • Bridging research in the learning sciences with broader aims and purposes in education.
  • Identifying teaching methods that engage students in geographic thinking.
  • Role of mentors and industry professionals in the geographic education of young people.



We seek submissions that illustrate the multiple ways geography develops human capability and prepares the future workforce across business, government, and nonprofit sectors. Presentations will explain and guide participants on how geography can contribute to inform society and promote a new geography for greater appreciation of our Earth.  Potential topics include:

  • Significance of powerful geography for workforce development.
  • Balancing education for capability development and competency/skills training.
  • Examples of geographic knowledge for decision-making, from local communities to international policy.
  • Engaging educational practitioners and policymakers in powerful geography.