Having a geographically literate population will be critical to the economic stability, physical security, and environmental sustainability of the United States in the 21st century. Yet the U.S. still lags far behind the other developed nations in education in the geographical sciences. Recognizing the risk that geographic illiteracy poses for our country, the National Geographic Society (NGS), in collaboration with the Association of American Geographers, American Geographical Society, and National Council for Geographic Education, proposes to engage in a set of research synthesis and dissemination activities that will provide road maps for the design of assessment, professional development, instructional materials, public information, and educational research for the next decade. The work will be done by a broad range of experts from K-12 institutions as well as the geographical science and educational research communities
Building on a 25 year collaboration, NGS and its partners propose to engage in a community-wide effort to synthesize the literature from a broad range of fields and to use the findings to create frameworks that will guide the planning, implementation, and scale-up of efforts to improve geographic education over the next decade. The result of this effort will be a set of publicly reviewed, consensus reports that will guide the collaborative efforts of the project partners and the larger geographic education community, as well as broaden awareness of the increasingly significant and acute need for geographic literacy and education in the geographical sciences in our country.
This project will create three in-depth "roadmap" reports targeted at practitioners, takeholders, and policymakers. Developed by expert committees, these three reports will be on:
- Assessment frameworks for systematic monitoring and continuous improvement of geographic education programs.
- Professional development for teachers and instructional materials to support large-scale educational improvement across diverse contexts.
- Educational research agenda to set priorities and identify appropriate methodologies for research that will improve geographic education into the future.
These three reports will be summarized in an executive summary written for a broad audience of educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens.
In addition to these consensus reports, the project will also conduct research on public understanding of the nature and importance of geographic literacy, with particular attention to the key audiences of educators, policymakers, and citizens. In addition to shaping the project's reports, this research will inform the broader communications and dissemination efforts of this project and its partners.