Friday, November 20, 2015

Geography on Nightside Radio -- Monday January 11, 9pm

Bridgewater State geographers Vernon Domingo and James Hayes-Bohanan have been invited back to the CBS radio program Nightside with Dan Rea to talk about geography education and our efforts to improve it in Massachusetts.
Broadcast throughout eastern U.S. and Canada on AM 1030.
This is a call-in show -- join us at (617) 254-1030!
We will be on-air from 9pm to 10pm on Monday, January 11, 2016.
FB users can get this must-hear radio on their events calendar as a reminder.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beacon Hill Update

Massachusetts Geographic Alliance continues to advocate for geography education on Beacon Hill. The Joint Committee on Education is currently considering two bills -- a Senate and a House version that are very similar and likely to be consolidated if the bill moves forward. The Joint Committee has advanced similar bills in two previous sessions, but both times the bills failed to reach votes on the floor, as they were allowed to die in technical committees.
EarthView has been a big part of our advocacy work on Beacon Hill. Shown here during an April 2014 visit.
It will return on Earth Day, April 20, 2016.
The bill calls for three measures in support of geography education. One would simply be to declare a Geography Day for the state, acknowledging the importance of this field of study. The second would be to ensure that a geographer is part of the governance infrastructure that oversees social studies in the curriculum statewide. Third and most importantly, the bill would create a commission -- comprising educators, government officials, and geography-related professionals -- to make recommendations regarding the status of geography education in the Commonwealth. The commission would have 12 to 18 months to hold hearings around the state, to gather information from other states, and to bring real rigor to the process of deciding how to improve geographic literacy in Massachusetts. It has the potential to make Massachusetts a national leader in geography education.

In its two versions -- S291 and H491 -- the bill currently enjoys support from both major parties, both chambers, and all regions of the state. If your legislators is among the sponsors, please thank them.

The chief sponsors are Sen. Anne Gobi and Rep. Todd Smola, who happens to be the only professional geographer in the Legislature. Other sponsors include (in no particular order):
S291: Joan B. Lovely, Marc R. Pacheco, Claire D. Cronin, Jennifer E. Benson, Angelo L. D'Emilia, James M. Murphy, Louis L. Kafka, James J. O'Day, Keiko M. Orrall, William F. Galvin, Harriette L. Chandler, Thomas P. Kennedy, Tom Sannicandro
H491: Michael D. Brady, Louis L. Kafka, Angelo L. D'Emilia, James M. Murphy, Ellen Story, James J. O'Day, William C. Galvin, Keiko M. Orrall
In any case, please ask your legislator to contact members of the Joint Committee on Education in support of the bills, and consider contacting members directly as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Where Did Geography Class Go? (Nightside with Dan Rea)

On February 16, members of Massachusetts Geographic Alliance were pleased to return to the airwaves as guests on Dan Rea's program Nightside on CBS affiliate WBZ-AM1030. Broadcast veteran Rea is, as he says, a "huge fan of geography" and has been supporting our efforts to promote geographic literacy and education for several years now.

For the latest conversation, Dr. Kathy Babini, Social Studies Coordinator for Plymouth Schools, joined Dan and Bridgewater State University professor James Hayes-Bohanan in the studio.

Early in this evening's program, the Nightside producer played the audio of a very fun geography video -- Yakko's World,

This has inspired many to attempt their own renditions -- mistakes and all -- including a reverse-karaoke version by the blogger known as snolygoster. Notice at 0:42, 1:06, and 1:50 in his video that he divides his arrow in two -- very clever!

Stewart Clamen has posted Yakko's lyrics and corrections to the lyrics, including corrected names, countries that were omitted in the original, and countries that have been created. Note that these pages include a link from each name in the lyrics to the country or territory's profile in the CIA Factbook, but those links have expired. Since Clamen's update, two additional countries have been created: Timor-Leste (East Timor) and South Sudan.

Our appearance was on President's Day.
Nightside is a call-in show with an audience spanning 34 states (by AM radio) and beyond (by streaming audio). One of the first calls was from very close to home, though, from the director of the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History. A partner of Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, the Spellman Museum is a great place for people of all ages to learn geography through stamps. In addition to the second-largest collection of stamps in the United States, the museum provides an ever-changing series of educational exhibits that can be organized around any theme.

Our conversation touched on the kinds of work that are available to those who pursue geography as a college major. We mentioned just a few; the Career Services office at the University of Tennessee lists many more geography careers, along with ideas about how to prepare for each.

At the end of the program, we briefly mentioned our most recent legislative effort. Once again a variety of Massachusetts legislators -- from both houses and both parties -- are supporting A Bill Relative to Geography Education. If passed, it would establish a commission to study ways to improve geography education in the Commonwealth. MGA is grateful to Sen. Gobi and Rep. Smola for re-introducing this legislation. At the time of this writing, it appears as docket items, rather than bills. The Senate version is SD 1066 and the House is HD 259. There is still time for friends of geography to encourage their legislators to support both versions of the bill.