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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Geography Awareness Week has a Twin

International Education Week is set for Monday through Saturday, Nov. 14-19. If you check the calendar you will find that week is also Geography Awareness Week (GAW). I've been following and participating in GAW since its inception in 1987. This is the first I've heard of International Education Week, now in its 11th year. What is it?
A joint initiative of the U.S. departments of State and Education, the week promotes programs that not only prepare Americans for a global environment, but also attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States.
I guess that might be read as a week to help propagandize the rest of the world with U.S.-centric thinking, but I prefer to focus on the "prepare [people] for a global environment" part since that to me includes quite a bit of spatial literacy, the ability to tease out spatial patterns and connections at local and global scales.

Western Michigan University has a week of activities including a Geography Bowl (which I hope is also connected to Geography Awareness Week).

I wonder why neither Education or State seem to get behind GAW or geographic education in its broader form? I can't speak to the Dept. of Education, but I know that State uses a lot of geography and geographers. All those former secretaries of state signed the recent Association of American Geographers' resolution!

GAW, if you are not aware, is now sponsored by The Geo-Literacy Coalition formed by National Geographic, USGIF, CH2M-HILL and Esri. That's not quite the same as the two federal government departments, now is it?

- Western Michigan University News

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