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What is Geo-Literacy and Why Is It Important?

sjcaban Posted by sjcaban in Mission: Geography! on Dec 5, 2011 4:16:30 PM

In a series of three posts, we will share writings from Daniel C. Edelson, Vice-President for Education at the National Geographic Society, about geo-literacy, a concept he has developed to describe the broad set of skills students will need to make far-reaching decisions in the 21st century.


In this first installment, Danny answers the question "What is geo-literacy and why is it important?"




What is geo-literacy?


We call the combination of skills and understanding necessary to make far-reaching decisions geo-literacy. The three components of geo-literacy are understanding human and natural systems, geographic reasoning, and systematic decision-making.




Why is geo-literacy important?


As preparation for far-reaching decisions, geo-literacy enables people to steer away from choices that will be costly for themselves and others. For example, individuals and communities bear preventable costs every time a retail business fails because of a poorly chosen location, a fishery is damaged by stormwater runoff, or travelers and deliveries are delayed because of inefficient transportation systems. In addition to economic and environmental costs that accumulate over time, like these, we also face immediate and sizable costs for geo-illiteracy in the form of loss of life from natural hazards, terrorism, and military conflict, and loss of livelihood from competition in a global economy.


While geo-literacy can reduce the costs of bad decision-making, it also provides the foundation for positive breakthroughs.  The hub-and-spoke system of modern air transportation, the introduction of high-yield, low-impact agricultural practices, the revival of urban neighborhoods, and early-warning systems for national defense are all examples of advances made by combining systems understanding, geographic reasoning, and systematic decision-making.


This is just an excerpt! Continue reading What is Geo-Literacy and Why Is It Imporant on the National Geographic Education website.


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