School Geography Education Projects, Initiatives and Journals
ARGUS (Activities and Readings in the Geography
of the United States)
funded by the National Science Foundation and developed at the University
of Minnesota under the leadership of Dr. Phil Gersmehl. The aim of the
project is to have students learn to use the concepts and skills of geography
by analyzing real world issues in both historical and contemporary contexts.
The ARGUS materials are designed to be used in secondary school social
studies classes, teacher training courses in geography, and introductory
higher education courses. The project is in a new phase, ARGWORLD, developing
activities and readings for the entire world aimed at middle school students
AGTA (Australian Geography Teachers' Association)
and its Awareness Week
The AGTA is the overarching body which represents all the state geography
teaching associations and promotes geography and geography education
throughout Australia. AGTA holds a biennial conference (the next one is in
Sydney in January 2000) and sponsors the journal Geographical Education
and a Geography Awareness Week each year for schools. Contact for Sydney 2000
is Geoff Conolly (
American High School
funded by the National Science Foundation was completed in the late 1960s
and widely disseminated across the United States in the 1970s. Despite
excellent support through staff development, the innovative project that
modelled geography research methods and perspectives was not widely adopted.
Bits and pieces of it are still in use in classrooms but it is out of print
CTI (Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for Geography,
Geology and Meteorology)
This is one of 24 subject-based centres established to support academics
and departments wanting to integrate communications and information technology
into their teaching.
COBRIG (Council of British Geography) and its Seminars
COBRIG is the organisation which represents all those bodies concerned
with geography and geographical education in England, Wales and Scotland.
Northern Ireland is loosely affiliated to COBRIG and efforts are being
made to strengthen links. There are currently 8 member organisations,
including the GA and the RGS-IBG. COBRIG provides a forum for discussion
and exchange between countries, organisations and sectors of education.
It represents the interests of geography at national and international
levels and identifies issues which need concerted action. The Seminars
are held biennially as a forum for discussion and exchange, particularly
between schools and higher education. The next one is planned for
2000. Contact COBRIG generally Neil Simmonds (tel/fax (44) (0)1451
860265; COBRIG Seminars and subsequent publications Eleanor Rawing (EleRawling@aol.com).
Dearing Report July 1997
Sir Ron (now Lord) Dearing chaired the National Committee of Inquiry into
Higher Education. The report covers a wide range of proposed reforms
in HE. There is a focus on the importance of learning and teaching
in many of the chapters but in particular in the sections on Students and
Learning and on the nature of Programmes.
DfEE Project: Key Skills in Geography
in Higher Education
The DfEE (UK Gov. Department for Education and Employment) has funded a
number of projects in relation to schools and higher education to explore
the practical aspects of implementing key skills. This project is funded
by the DfEE for two years (1998-2000) to develop and disseminate models
of good practice for embedding key skills in higher education geography
curricula. The project team is based at Cheltenham and Gloucester
College of Higher Education. (Project Director; Mick Healey). The work
is being undertaken with the GDN consortium of geography departments. A
proposal for a key skills core for A Levels is under development.
A mediated e-mail network allowing members to communicate and collaborate
on issues relating to geography in education
GDN (Geography Discipline
This is a consortium of nine universities and colleges of higher education
concerned with the development and dissemination of good practice in learning,
teaching and assessment in geography, based at Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education. Director: Mick Healey (email@example.com
GENIP (Geography Education National Implementation
This is a steering committee made up of the four US professional geography
organizations, the Association of American Geographers, the American Geographical
Society, the National Council for Geographic Education, and the National
Geographic Society. GENIP works to coordinate the education efforts of
all four groups, particularly to promote and disseminate the National Geography
Standards: Geography for Life.
In 1994 and again in 1995, two geography education summits were held on
the campus of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. The
purpose of the meetings was to discuss ways to promote geography education
particularly in light of the publication of the National Geography Standards
in October 1994. The proceedings of the first summit are collected in the
A Decade of Reform in Geographic Education: Inventory and
Prospect (Bednarz and Peterson, 1995).
GA (Geographical Association) (Action
Week, Land Use UK project and Conferences)
Founded in 1893, it exists to further the study and teaching of geography
in all categories of educational institution from school to university
in the UK and beyond. The main emphasis of its work has tended
to be school education (primary, secondary and teacher education) and particularly
in recent years to support the implementation of the National Geography
Curriculum. The GA publishes a wide range of guidance and resources
material for teachers, produces 3 Journals (Primary Geographer, Teaching
Geography and Geography), runs and annual conference and supports and helps
teachers on a day to day basis through a network of branches, regions and
national events. Contact Chief Executive: Martin Curry, 160 Solly
Geography Awareness Week
Since its inception as a Los Angeles area event by Kit and Cathy Salter
in 1985, Geography Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Geographic
has been an attempt to focus public attention on the dearth of geography
education in US public schools and to give students an opportunity to learn
about specific aspects of geography through exploration of a theme. In
1998, the theme was People, Places, and Patterns: Geography Puts the Pieces
Together and featured the use of GIS as a way to explore the world (http://www.esri.com)
Geography Alliances (USA)
The National Geographic Society initiated the Alliance movement in 1986
to improve geography education nationwide. Fifty four Alliances with a
total membership in excess of 150,000 teachers and university faculty exist
in all US states, Puerto Rico, and in Canada. Each Alliance is the energy
centre for local and statewide efforts to make geography well taught and
well learned by all students. The Alliances achieve this goal by giving
teachers the knowledge, skills, and materials they need through intensive
summer institutes, one-day conferences, and other staff development opportunities
Geography 16-19 Project
This schools Council Project based at the Institute
of Education, University of London 1976-85, developed a curriculum framework
for 16-19 geography, encompassing a people-environment issue based approach
to geography and an active enquiry approach to learning. A Geography
16-19 A level syllabus was produced and a version of this is still popular
(Edexcell examining group); it also influenced the production of a whole
range if 16-19 syllabuses and courses and led to a wide range of '16-19'
resources and teaching materials (Naish, Rawling and Hart, 1987).
Geography 14-18 (Bristol)
A Schools Council Project focused (despite its title)
on the 14-16 age range and based during 1970-75, at the University of Bristol
Department of Education. It emphasised the professional development
of teachers rather than any particular course or materials; however curriculum
guidance, resources and eventually an examination syllabus (GCSE) were
produced. (See GCSE course now run by Midland Examining Group, England
and Hickman, Reynolds and Tolley (1973).
for Young School Leaver (Avery Hill) Project
A Schools Council Project 1970-75 at the Avery Hill
College of Education. Its focus was initially the less able and less
motivated 14-16 year olds, but its highly innovative teaching materials
and approaches were taken up more widely for pupils of all abilities.
There is still a GCSE syllabus based on Avery Hill and offered by the Midlands
and Welsh Examining Boards in England and Wales. (See Boardman, 1988)).
and Industry Project
This project was funded by industry and business
and run by the Geographical Association. It was based at the Oxford
University Department of Educational Studies 1984-91 (Project Director
Graham Corney). The emphasis was on using geography as a medium for
developing economic understanding, work-related skills and political literacy.
Schools worked closely with local business and the community. The
project book published by the GA, explains the approach and gives examples
of teaching/learning materials (Corney, 1992).
Inquiry into Global Issues)
A project funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Dr.
David Hill of the University of Colorado that has produced middle school
curriculum units focused on integrating regional understanding of the world
with inquiry into significant geographic concepts. The materials, initially
published by the Encyclopedia Britannica, are no longer available for purchase.
The high quality of the lessons and innovative approach to teaching will
live on in the ARGWORLD project of which Dr. Hill is co-director.
GA/NCET Geography and
for GA and http://www.becta.org.uk/ for
A project managed jointly by the National Council for Educational Technology
(NCET) and the Geographical Association (GA), funded by the Department
for Education and Employment IT in Schools Unit 1993-96. It pioneered
the notion of 'a minimum entitlement to IT through geography' and has produced
a range of affordable curriculum materials to support this, including software
for use in primary and secondary schools in the UK and curriculum guidance.
NCET now has become BECTA, The British Educational Computing and Technology
of Global Change project, Clark University
This focused on developing active learning materials and was appropriately
called the Hands-On! Project. Staff at Clark University held summer workshops
to encourage collaborative production of modules for teaching at tertiary
level. Some of the modules have been made available through the VGD.
IGU-CGE (International Geographical Union Commission
on Geographical Education)
IGU-CGE (International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education)
After four years' work by the Commission on Geographical Education, the
International Geographical Union ratified an International Charter on
Geographical Education in 1992. The Preface to the Charter states:
"Convinced that geographical education is indispensable for the development
of responsible and active citizens in the present and future world, conscious
that geography can be an informing enabling and stimulating subject at all
levels in education and contributes to a lifelong enjoyment and understanding
of our world; aware that students require increasing international competence
in order to ensure effective cooperation on a broad range of economic, political,
cultural and environmental issues in a shrinking world; concerned that
geographical education is neglected in some parts of the world and lacks
structure and coherence in others; ready to assist colleagues in counteracting
geographical illiteracy in all countries of the world; supporting the principles
set out in the Charter of the United nations, the Universal declaration of Human
Rights, the Constitution of UNESCO, the UNESCO recommendations concerning
education for International Understanding, Cooperation and peace, the Declaration
of the Rights of the Child, and many national curricula and statements on
geographical education; comments this International Charter on Geographical
Education to all people of the world". Since its promulgation, the Charter
has been translated into well over 20 languages and has formed part of
curriculum deliberations in all continents.
INLT (International network for learning and teaching
in geography in higher education)
(Hay, Foote and Healey paper)The focus of a
symposium to be held in Hawaii in March 1999
for Geographic Education (NCGE)
Established in 1915, NCGE "works to enhance the status and quality of geography
teaching and learning" (NCGE 1998). NCGE publishes the Journal of Geography,
a journal that focuses on both K-12 and higher education related issues,
holds annual conferences, and cooperates with other organizations with
similar goals through GENIP.
National Geography Curriculum
The Education Reform Act of 1998 established a National
Curriculum with programmes of study and attainment targets for 10 National
Curriculum subjects for pupils 5-16 years. Although changes have
been made to the detail of what is required, geography is still a statutory
National Curriculum subject and so compulsory for all pupils of 5-14 years
of age in state maintained schools. There is one attainment target
(geography) with standards specified in 8 level descriptions. The
detailed content of what to teach is set out in the programmes of study
for 5-7 year olds (key state 1), 7-11 year olds (key stage 2) and 11-14
year olds (key stage 3). Content is outlined under the headings of
places, themes and skills (see DFE, 1995 and WO 1995).
National Geographic Society (NGS)
in Washington DC became involved in geography education in 1985 because
of the interest of then president Gilbert M. Grosvenor. The interest blossomed
into a single large effort to enhance geography education through the Alliance
movement. The Society has committed over $20 million to the campaign for
geography education since 1985. National Summer Institutes have been
an important element of the strategy adopted by the NGS.
National Geography Bee (USA)
is only one effort of the National Geographic Society directed at making
students excited about geography. The Bee is designed for students in grades
4-8. The Society has also initiated a research-based competition for high
school students called the GeoChallenge (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geochallenge)
and an international geography bee that the Canadian team won last year.
National Geography Standards
The US National Education Goals (http://www.negp.gov/),
issued in 1989, called for all the nation's children to improve their achievement
in core subjects (mathematics, language, arts, science, history and geography
by 2000. The National Geography Standards were set to measure progress
toward world class performance in geography. The Standards were prepared
through a broad national and international consensus process under the
aegis of the AAG, AGS, NCGE, and NGS. Issued in 1994, they have been
instrumental in developing high quality geography instruction on a state-by-state
basis throughout the US.
and Curriculum Authority (and SCAA) (UK)
QCA, London, came into being in 1997 bringing together the work of the
former National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) and the School
Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA). QCA's brief is to advise
the Secretary of State for Education and Employment on all matters affecting
the school curriculum, pupil assessment and publicly funded qualifications
in schools, colleges and workplaces. QCA publishes a wide range of
information and guidance documents. There are professional officers
who deal with the National Curriculum subjects and for geography there
are two officers; John Westaway and Eleanor Rawling; contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Quality Assurance Agency
The QAA was founded in 1997 and aims to promote continuous improvement
in the quality and standards of higher education provision. It carries
out institutional and subject reviews and supports a range of activities
focused on quality enhancement. Currently it is working with subjects
to develop benchmark information on subject standards.
Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
The society is based in London where it operates at regional, national
and international levels to support research, education and training in
Studies of Society
and Environment (SOSE) (Australia)
This is the name given to one of a number of "key learning areas" created as
a result of attempts by the Australian Federal Government in 1989 to achieve
"Common and Agreed Goals of Schooling" amongst the states and territories.
Studies of Society and Environment as a "key learning area" was intended to
embrace those areas of understanding encompassed by history, geography,
civics, economics, commerce, anthropology and sociology. While the original
concept included no assumptions about how the key learning area should be
promoted in schools, it was seized by those who believe in integrated social
studies as a way to bring about social change and in some states and territories
the concept became conflated with a new integrated subject. The resultant
disagreements and confusions have resulted in each state and territory
implementing the policy in markedly different ways.
Virtual Field Course Project
The Virtual Fieldcourse Project is jointly based at Leicester University,
Birkbeck College and Oxford Brookes University. It is creating a
combination of tools to enable educators to enhance and supplement the
fieldwork experience. Examples of the work can be viewed at the website.
Virtual Geography Department
The VGD aims to develop ways for geographers to share materials and use
the world wide web. High quality materials are available to students
and educators. The VGD also promotes collaborative research. Director: Ken Foote (email@example.com
The journal of the Geographical Association published four times a year.
The Journal of the Australian Geography Teachers'
Association (AGTA). This journal is published once per year and distributed to all
members of state and territory affiliates (Geography Teachers' Associations)
and a number of overseas subscribers. Articles embrace both practical teaching
suggestions, reports of research of direct relevance ot practicing teachers
and wider issues of education policy pertaining to geography. Editor: Tammy
Kwan, School of Professional Studies, Queensland University of Technology,
IRGEE (International Research in Geographical and
Published three times a year by Channel View Publications, Frankfurt Lodge,
Clevedon Hall, Victoria Road, Clevedon, UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial inquiries to Dr. John Lidstone: Email: email@example.com
Journal of Geography:
the publication of the National Council for Geographic Education. Despite
perception that the Journal is directed at school geography, most of its
articles are general reviews of significant geographic topics or suggestions
for teaching higher education. In the last half decade, increased emphasis
on geography education research and scholarship has altered the nature
of the articles somewhat. The current editor is Dr. Jonathan Leib at Florida
State University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
JGHE (Journal of Geography
in Higher Education)
Published three times a year by Carfax, it provides a forum for geographers
in higher education to discuss common educational interests, to present
the results of educational research and to advocate new ideas. Editors: Hugh Matthews (email@example.com) and Ian Livingstone (firstname.lastname@example.org). Abstracts of all main articles published in jghe are on the GDN Web pages (JGHE pages)
A specialist journal of the Geographical Association aimed at secondary
school teachers and containing teaching/learning ideas, resources and articles
about current developments and trends in geography education. Editor:
Elisabeth Barratt Hacking (Contact via GA Tel: (44) (0)1142 2960088 or
Website). Note Primary Geographer is a journal for primary teachers
and also published by the GA.
Appendix 2: More about the authors
of this paper
Sue Burkill is the head of the geography department at the College of St
Mark and St John, a higher education college with an important teacher
training sector. She has worked with teachers and other teacher educators
on a number of geography and ICT projects over the past twenty years. In
the last few years she has worked collaboratively with Fontys, a higher
education college in Tilburg, the Netherlands to prepare the curriculum
and materials for teachers taking part in professional development courses.
Eleanor Rawling is Principal Subject Officer for
Geography at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, London.
She is also an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Oxford
Department of Educational Studies. She has experience in working
in curriculum development (Geography 16-19 Project 1976-85; Geography Schools
and Industry Project 1987-91) and has strong links with the Geographical
Association (President 1991-92) Her current work includes the review of
the National Geography Curriculum, developing curriculum guidance for school
teachers, outlining geography's contribution to citizenship and education
for sustainable development and promoting dialogue with higher education
through COBRIG initiatives.
Sarah Bednarz is an assistant professor of geography at Texas A&M University.
She taught for 14 years in urban, suburban, and rural middle and high schools
in Illinois and Texas before completing her Ph.D. in 1992. Since
1986 she has been active in the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education
and currently serves as project coordinator for GENIP and as director of
a project to integrate NASA missions and results with the National Geography
John Lidstone is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the Queensland
University of Technology, where he teaches mainly research methodology courses at
postgraduate level. He was for many years a high school teacher of geography in England
and taught geography curriculum and teaching methods to preservice teachers in Australia.
He co-edits International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, is
Executive Secretary of the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical
Education, Chairs the Education Committee of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland
and has a keen interest in producing curriculum materials in geography both in text and
electronic form. His academic hobby is teaching about disasters.
The text of this paper was converted into Hypertext Markup Language by
Tony Atkin of the College of St
Mark and St John.