Powerful Geography


Read the publications below to learn about Powerful Geography

  • Michael Solem, Richard G. Boehm and Joann Zadrozny (eds.). 2024. Powerful Geography: International Perspectives and Applications. Springer Cham.

This book presents the evolution of the Powerful Geography approach to teaching and learning in the United States and how the approach can be adapted and implemented in other countries. Powerful Geography acknowledges the remarkable diversity that exists in classrooms, the wide-ranging interests of modern students and the desire of these students to translate dynamic subject-matter into “useful” information and concepts, a process that is consistent with modern educational theory. For Powerful Geography to work in secondary and postsecondary education, teachers and university professors must adapt and teach geography as a critical training where individual students see opportunities to apply geography content, skills, and technology to real world problems that they care about. This book challenges geography educators at all levels to strengthen their applied curriculum in order to help students prepare for jobs and careers in broad areas such as climate change, migration, environmental protection, natural resources, energy development and use, transport planning, supply chain logistics, global trade, national security, and infrastructure.

Book Cover_Powerful Geography

ABSTRACT: Powerful Geography revolutionizes the traditional notion of geography education and makes it transformative by teaching content that connects with individual students’ future career and life aspirations. We explore the history of prior teacher resources to teach climate change and provide a path to using the new approach to teaching powerful geographic knowledge, offering examples of how to integrate climate change into the classroom by reviewing the various teacher and student resources available on the Powerful Geography website (www.powerfulgeography.org).

  • Michael Solem, Brendan Vander Weil, Richard G. Boehm, and Joann Zadrozny. 2022, November 8. Powerful Geography at Work. American Association of Geographers Newsletter.

ABSTRACT: The Powerful Geography approach entails strengthening the relationship among curricula, student aspirations and motivations, and applications and practices of geographers in business, government, and nonprofit organizations. As a practical response to the GeoCapabilities project’s vision of future geography curricula based on conceptions of powerful knowledge, Powerful Geography is the idea that curricula connecting geography careers to student aspirations can help teachers make powerful knowledge accessible for students, specifically by helping students recognize relationships between geography and life beyond the classroom. Powerful Geography is a replicable approach to creating curricula that account for differences in state standards, course topics, student demographics, and school contexts. To illustrate this method in practice, the authors designed a humanitarian mapping lesson according to the approach.

ABSTRACT: This article describes a data-driven approach to contextualize geography subject matter using student aspirations and workforce data. To test this teaching strategy, undergraduate students in two world geography courses taught at Texas State University were surveyed and interviewed about their career and life aspirations. Using this information, the course instructor selected relevant geography resources and applications using workforce data obtained from a sample of geographers employed in private and public sectors. Over the semester, students encountered those applications through class presentations, videos, and individual advising sessions. At the end, students completed a post-test survey. Resulting datasets offered the instructor a means to reflect upon and select geographic content that is accessible and applicable to what students aspire to be and do in the future. Analysis of the pre- and post-test survey data indicate positive gains in student attitudes but suggest additional culturally relevant pedagogical enhancements are needed to account for student diversity and context. The article concludes with a critical assessment of how future instructors might leverage aspirations and workforce data to address the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the discipline and workforce.

ABSTRACT: The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education and National Center for Research in Geography Education propose a new framework for geography called Powerful Geography, which revolutionizes the traditional notion of standards in geography education. Combining Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum's principles of human capabilities, Michael Young's theory of powerful disciplinary knowledge, and Wesley Null's concept of a liberating curriculum, Powerful Geography offers a new conceptual approach to professional development for teachers. The approach aims to help teachers model geographic knowledge and skills that offer a diverse group of students the best preparation needed to attain personal and career goals and aspirations. This article argues the logic and value of Powerful Geography, sets up the rationale for Powerful Geography, describes how it builds on prior research, and presents a multiyear research and development plan involving social studies teachers.

Articles about Powerful Geography written by others

ABSTRACT: The debates on the value of geographic knowledge have created a growing discussion regarding the role of Geography in people’s education. From the field of geographic education, the concept of powerful knowledge has raised the need to revalue the geographic training of an individual in primary, secondary, and higher education, as it allows them to access a type of knowledge that transcends their daily life experience and enables them to participate critically and actively in contemporary issues. This article develops a new way of geographic thought, starting with a theoretical analysis of the concept of powerful knowledge proposed by Michael Young and its current relevance, then determining the elements and characteristics of powerful geographic knowledge, and thus reclaiming the importance of the contribution of specialist communities and the discipline in student education, which goes beyond just training for employment, preparing critical and creative citizens who acquire geographic knowledge to impact their socio-environmental realities. The article concludes with a curricular and pedagogical proposal on how to educate our students in a disciplinary vision to obtain more specialized forms of knowledge that affect their personal and social life.

Rafael de Miguel González. 2024. GUEST EDITORIAL. Powerful Geography and the future of geographic education. Dialogues in Human Geography.

Here are some posts about Encoding Geography - an NSF-funded grant (NSF Awards CNS-2031380,
CNS-2031418, and CNS-2031407) that uses the principles of Powerful Geography focused on Geocomputation

Dony, Coline, Nara, Atsushi, and Solem, Michael. Attracting students of all backgrounds to programs in geography or geocomputation starts before they enter collegeAmerican Association of Geographers Resources, September 26, 2022. DOI: 10.14433/2017.0116

León, Kelly. Geography education needs an urgent transformation. From the Meridian, ArcNews, Spring 2022, Vol 44, No 2.

Take a look at these recent newspaper articles that address the underlying ideas of Powerful Geography in other subjects such as History and Civics

Mathews, Jay. Is Congress falling for scheme to ruin civics and history classes? The Washington Post, April 10, 2021.

Mathews, Jay. Why our many big plans to raise education standards will never work. The Washington Post, April 17, 2021.

America needs history and civics education to promote unityThe Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2021.

Jindal, Bobby and Ricketts, Joe. Covid provides a rare chance to transform public education. The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2021.

Take a look at these articles that address the underlying ideas of Powerful Geography in other subjects

Carter, S.C., Griffith, E.M., Jorgensen, T.A., Coifman, K.G., & Griffith, W.A. 2021. Highlighting altruism in geoscience careers aligns with diverse US student ideals better than emphasizing working outdoors. Communications Earth & Environment, 2(213), 1-7.

Marilyn Raphael. 2022. November 9. President's Column: Geography and Geographers in a Changing World. American Association of Geographers Newsletter.

Potvin, G., Hazari, Z., Khatri, R., Cheng, H., Head, T.B., Lock, R.M., Kornahrens, A.F., Woodle, K.S., Vieyra, R.E., Cunningham B.A., Kramer, L. & Hodapp, T. 2023. Examining the effect of counternarratives about physics on women's career intentions. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 19(1), 1-15.