Today’s youth are tomorrow’s decision makers, and an understanding of geography and the use of geospatial technology will be crucial to helping them make good decisions that affect global health and community life. Unfortunately, geography has always been sort of an “underdog” in our educational system; it’s been misunderstood, generalized, and sometimes ignored. Even today, as we see increased focus on STEM in education, we frequently see geography completely disregarded as a component of STEM.
This is very unfortunate. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Geography touches heavily on all of these disciplines, and the application of geospatial technology helps us to better understanding cross-disciplinary phenomena and solve important problems. GIS, GPS, and remote sensing can be used to simultaneously engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math.
To overlook geography as a critical component of STEM flies in the face of the goals of STEM—to improve education, the work force, and national competitiveness. We need to work together as a community and get geography back in to STEM. The geospatial community and larger geography community have responded in number of ways. For example, National Geographic has organized a group called the Geo-Literacy Coalition, with the goal of raising awareness about the importance of a geo-literate population and the need to invest in geography education. More people in the GIS community need to support the efforts of the Geo-Literacy Coalition as well as other efforts to recognize the critical importance of geography in STEM.
- Free e-book: Advancing STEM Education with GIS [PDF]