Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Conditions in the camps

 The Los Angeles Times is currently publishing a series of investigative articles about the people living in migrant labor camps in Mexico. The conditions are worse than those seen in the 1960's film Harvest of Shame and often in violation of Mexican Law. The series includes brief videos, photographs, interviews with the workers and diagrams of the camps.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Urban Fabric

Alex MacLean has been photographing Detroit for nearly 35 years. In this recent article his well framed aerial photographs show how, " The urban fabric looks like a moth-eaten blanket." His photos combined with explanations of how the economy has impacted the geographical landscape make this article well worth reading.

Monday, December 1, 2014


The ongoing conflict in Syria has forced millions to flee into the surrounding countries. How do people in refugee camps get food? So far the World Food Program has spent $800 million feeding those in need, but they announced today that they will no longer be able to do so. In a region already suffering political unrest this will add new economic tensions. Read about the announcement at the WFP website.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Location, Location, Location

What does location have to do with poverty? It has a lot to do with what type of housing resources and jobs are available. Often people migrate to have access to economic opportunity, but what happens to cities and communities when the employers migrate out? Read all about it in the article The Geography of Joblessness by The Economist. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Social Media and Modern War

Vietnam was one of the first wars to receive in depth television coverage. When people were able to see the atrocities of war it made it all the more relevant and many people began to rethink their stance on it. How has media today impacted the war on terrorism? The terrorist group Islamic State has used social media as a self promotional tool. Now governments and people are fighting back using the same social media resources. Read more about it with this article by the BBC.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Can Democracy be MADE IN CHINA?

Hong Kong has always been special. It is an economic powerhouse and cultural trendsetter. Held as a British territory until 1997 it was returned to mainland China under specific conditions. Part of those were that they would be able to have an election in 2017. Recently China announced that candidates will have to pass their approval first. Expecting better, protests have ensued. What began peacefully has been hampered by police armed with tear gas. Read all about it here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What makes a place a place?

Millions of people in the world live in slums. They have little or no money, employment opportunities, or access to clean water and electricity. Now geographers are using GPS & GIS technology to help the people who live in slums improve the conditions there. In an article from NPR they explain that, "..maps are also public records that can help slum dwellers negotiate with city authorities." By mapping the overcrowded conditions they are proving to the governments that their place matters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Technology in Geography

Who was the innovator that created Geographic Information Systems (GIS)? Read this interview with Roger Tomlinson at NPR to learn how he impacted the field of cartography. 

How does satellite imagery impact cartography? Check out this interactive article by NOVA.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Russian Resources

To say that Russia and Europe have a complicated relationship is an understatement. The New York Times recently released a cartogram and article that explains which parts of Europe use Russian Oil.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Predictable Politics?

 With seasonal monsoon season in South Asia, flooding is to be expected. Would the impact of those floods, the damage and death tolls be lessened if India and Pakistan worked together? The Economist considers this question in an article Predictable Tragedy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Intercontinental Culture

What happens to a persons identity when they are raised in a different country then the one they are born in? How can being ethnically different from their family impact someone? How has South Korea's history shaped its adoption culture and how is that being changed today? In an article on NPR we learn that, "For the first time in Korean history, the country's adoption law has been re-written by some of the very people who have lived its consequences."  The article gives incredible insight into family life and how governments can interact with that. It is well worth the read.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Real Hotshots

Can you imagine what it would be like to parachute down over a wildfire and be part of the first response team that attempts to keep that fire from spreading? What do you know about wildfires? Take this quiz from the CS Monitor to find out. They have been some of worst natural disasters that western United States has contended with in the past few years. You can read all about what it takes to be one of those parachuting hotshot heroes in this article Smoke jumpers: Firefighters from the sky.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Rice Bucket Challenge

You read that right, rice bucket. This is what happens when the viral charity ice bucket challenge travels to a country with limited water resources. They adapt by finding a way to donate what they can. There is a facebook page that you can view, and a story about how it all started on NPR. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Growing Up

How can a community survive if they have less than 1% of land available to farm? They can either import all of their food or find new ways to farm. In Singapore that means vertical farming.  Utilizing the space available on top of skyscrapers. You can read all about it here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Polka & Tejano

Americas cultural identity has been woven together by immigrants from all over the world. The Pew Research Center has released maps showing how immigration to the United States has changed over the past 100 years. Today's immigrants come predominately from Mexico whereas a century ago most immigrants were coming from Germany. So what do Polka music and Tejano music have in common? Listen to both and you will hear the influence of the accordion and cultural diffusion.  Read the article and check out the time lapse maps to learn more.

Friday, May 23, 2014


In Geography we spend a lot of time discussing what perspective means. Here is a collection of photos that demonstrate how viewing something from a different direction or distance can change your perspective. Most of the places are also Geographically or Historically significant, so it is interesting to see how thy fit in our modern world. Yep, that is the Taj Mahal below.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Toilet to Tap

We all know that there is a limited supply of water on our planet, but just how far will we go to live somewhere where there is not enough? One city in Texas will be the first to find out. To supplement their dwindling natural supply they will be recycling water directly from their sewage treatment plant. Learn more from an NPR story here. You can listen to the story or read it and there is also a youtube video link.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The War on Pollution

Just in time for Earth Day, China has declared a war on pollution. Notorious for smog so dense it makes tourism challenging, the government is attempting to change that image. Hotels stock guest rooms with gas masks and historical landmarks appear to be in perpetual snowstorms. That snow is actually air pollution created by China's prolific manufacturing industry and total lack of environmental laws. They hope to change this dirty reputation by enacting new laws soon.
Edit- In addition to air pollution there has been an abundance of pig pollution.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Place Geography

These photo's are inspiring. Sometimes we can get used to thinking the world is limited to the environment we see everyday. Maybe these photographs will spark your travel bug.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Amazing Alluvial Fan

Why might an alluvial fan be important to the community living near it? Check out this satellite image and see if you can figure it out before clicking on it to read the explanation from NASA. Where do you think it is and what is it being used for?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Partition

The New York Times has an excellent article about the partition of India.  It explains the partition and even has video interviews embedded for you to watch.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Alan Lomax and Cultural Equity

In the 1960's and 1970's Alan Lomax and his team traveled around the United States to discover and record American Culture. His You Tube Channel is full of beautiful examples of  traditional songs, early blues and rock, and a variety of church services.  Many of this was done for a PBS production and you could spend hours just enjoying the footage they have published on you tube. It is part of the Cultural Equity project which can be found at

Friday, February 7, 2014


Essentially, the purpose of advertising is to sell a product. Even if that product is a nonessential sugar filled soft drink. Coke-A-Cola has done an excellent job of creating a global brand (remember that hilltop of diversity?). This year at the Superbowl they debuted a commercial showcasing their place in America's multicultural identity, which can be viewed here.  As always, NPR has made some excellent observations about all of the buzz, which can be heard here. They discuss the commercial, the backlash and the purpose of the controversy.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

FDA rules on drugs in your food.

For all of those Geography students studying agriculture right now, here is an interesting piece on the FDA and drugs in your food.  It comes from the NPR series about food, the Salt.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to make McNuggets

As we delve into our study of agriculture I keep discovering interesting information related to the food we eat. It is amazing how far some food travels, how it produced and what is in it. Shouldn't chicken just be chicken? The Huffington Post has a great series called Unreal Eats that uncovers the back story to many of the processed foods we eat. There are excellent articles and videos here that might make you rethink that next happy meal.
UPDATE: McDonalds would like to refute wild claims of multiple ingredients and pink stuff with its own video explaining how Chicken Nuggets are made. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Geopolitical Anomalies

Political Geography is ruled by words like Centrifugal Forces, Irredentism, and Majority-Minority Districts. If those terms aren't confusing enough for you, check out this awesome map of Geopolitical Anomalies. A tangle of arrows, it illustrates places on the globe that go against our basic geographic understanding of the globe. It comes complete with an explanation of every place labeled on on the map.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where do communities come from?

Today we often see planned or even master planned communities. Someone sits down, looks at a map and divides it into the most profit generating community they can imagine and sell. What happens when communities develop organically? The post From Camp to Town explains the bloodshot eye development and its religious origins. This easy to read article also gives several examples where this type of development can be found.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Confused about Conflict?

    After nearly thirty years of civil war, Sudan split into two countries in 2011. Now the newest country in the world, South Sudan, appears to be entering a civil war. Confused about all of the conflict? Here is a great article to help you understand the history and current conditions of South Sudan, 9 Questions about South Sudan You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask.