Geography Awareness Week

November 12-18, 2017

What is Geography Awareness Week?

Established by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1987, Geography Awareness Week (GAW) is observed the third week in November every year. GAW promotes what geography is, why it is important, and the relevance of a geographic education in preparing citizens to understand and debate pressing social and environmental issues and problems. This year’s celebration is November 12-18, marking the 30th birthday of what has become an important tradition in our discipline.

The Geography of Civil Rights Movements

Geographers are well equipped to document and analyze the development, spread, and distribution of civil rights issues and movements across communities and regions. Geography Awareness Week offers a powerful opportunity to engage our students in a hands-on reconstruction and interpretation of civil rights geographies found in their own cities, states, and campuses—all of which is important in creating the empathy and solidarity necessary for them to ask critical questions about their own positions of privilege and marginality within networks of social power.

But geography can do more than speak to where civil rights struggles occurred. The geographic building blocks of social life—e.g., location, landscape, movement, sense of place, global interdependence, and the natural environment—are fundamental to how rights become materialized and realized within daily lives.

Civil rights movements encompass a wide range of historically marginalized social actors and groups. Importantly, the teaching of civil rights is not confined to examining and celebrating past movements but can and should examine the geographic dimensions of contemporary struggles for social, economic, political, and environmental justice.

It is also necessary to help our students understand how the oppression/resistance of one disenfranchised community is tied interdependently—spatially and socially—with the struggles and identities of other groups. Awareness Week offers a space for civil rights to be taught as a set of processes and practices that matter to all of us and shape all of our geographies rather than reducing it to an abstract concept, a single moment of protest, or a narrowly defined group of people or interests.


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Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory

This book is a creation of memorials dedicated to the civil rights movement is a watershed event in the commemoration of southern and American history, an important reversal in the traditional invisibility of African Americans within the preservation movement. Collective memory, to be sure, is certainly about honoring the past--whether it is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace in Atlanta or the memorial to Rosa Parks in Montgomery--but it is also about the ongoing campaign for civil rights and the economic opportunities associated with heritage tourism.

National Geographic Bee

The National Geographic Bee is an annual competition organized by the National Geographic Society, designed to inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world. Students in grades four through eight (4-8) from 10,000 schools across the United States will compete in the 2018 National Geographic Bee for a chance to win college scholarships and the glory of being the National Geographic Bee Champion. Ohio Geographic State bee is scheduled for April 6, 2018 at The Ohio State University.

Any paid school employee can register their school for the National Geographic Bee online. The National Geographic Bee registration fee is $120 per school until December 21, 2017, and $140 from December 22, 2017 until registration ends on January 26, 2018. Schools needing financial support can complete a Registration Discount Request form available here.

The first 100 schools that register will receive a copy of the newly revised How to Ace the National Geographic Bee Official Study Guide.

National Council on Geographic Education

A lot of great teacher resources including AP® Human Geography Bell-Ringers, which you can download!

Ohio Geographic Alliance

Michele Ballinger

Gifted Resource Specialist

Columbus City Schools

Teacher Consultant

The Ohio Geographic Alliance