Monday, April 17, 2017

Summer Geography Reading

Suggestions for Becoming a Better Writer and A Better Geographer
-- by Dr. Hayes-Bohanan

As I have written on my "Writing Tips" page, "Good writing is the best evidence of clear thinking. It is also hard work." Good writing is not just the avoidance of grammar and style errors, though this is important, and a long list of examples was the first resource for students that I put online, in the 1990s.

Another section of my writing pages provides broader suggestions for becoming a better writer, which can be reduced to one word: READ. Late last year, I shared a short video of the venerable Rep. John Lewis, who shares exactly that admonition with all who will listen, as he knows it is both a benefit of and a prerequisite for liberty: JUST READ.

This post is in response to a general observation as I reach writing-intensive courses. A lot of our geography majors are, sadly, not avid readers. This is revealed by limitations of vocabulary and sentence structure that have only one cure: READING

As the semester winds down, I want to encourage our majors -- and our alumni and other friends of geography -- to do some serious, geography-related reading this summer. In addition to the suggestions above, this is inspired by a list of a baker's dozen geography titles from the article 13 Books About the Influence of Geography in Our Everyday Lives, which appeared recently on Signature, a web site that promotes reading as a tool of informed citizenry by posting short lists of good books on important topics. 

I have read a few of these and have put them all on my Goodreads list, where I will add reviews as I complete some of them over the summer. (That list already includes my reviews of about 20 other books.) In other words, I'm issuing myself the same challenge I'm giving to our students: READ!

I like this list from Signature because it is eclectic and the books included reinforce a basic idea that all geographers know: Place Matters. As I am certain some of my reviews will mention -- based on what I know so far of a few of the titles -- a few of the books stray a bit farther into the environmental determinism camp than I am comfortable with. But reading disparate ideas about place and causation makes us better geographers, so I will be reading from all parts of this list.

In addition to all of the recommendations above, I strongly encourage geographers to explore the book suggestions included in my favorite librarian's Celebrating the States blog. She spent 2010 honoring each of the 50 United States (plus some territories) by reading a book, watching a film, and preparing some food related to that state. I read a few of the books with her, watched most of the films, and helped to eat and/or prepare most of the food. Among the 50-plus titles she lists will be something for every geographer. 


Two blogs that came in the wake of this one may also be of interest. In "Library" Books, she writes about books that mention libraries; in Nueva Receta Cada Semana, we both blog about foods that we prepare in our home.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

EarthView at the State House -- Wed April 19

Photo credit: BSU Geography alumna Ashley (Costa) Harris
This iconic photo appears in Geography for LifeThe National Geography Standards from AAG/NGS/NCGE
Project EarthView -- a joint project of our Department of Geography, the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, and the BSU Center for the Advancement of STEM Education -- is returning to the State House during Earth Week.

We have done this each April for almost a decade, as a way to celebrate and promote geographic education. The presence of a 20-foot portable globe inside the People's House has made a strong impression on many legislators, legislative staff members, April-vacation students, tourists from throughout the world who visit the Freedom Trail, and regional media outlets.

This year, we hope to have as many BSU students as possible -- from all majors -- join us at the State House. You can help us greet visitors to the globe itself, and you can also visit legislative offices to talk with legislators or their aides about the importance of geography education. Most of all, you can enjoy a day of learning in this fascinating building -- which has some interesting geographic characteristics and artifacts.

To organize this visit, we ask participants to enter our EarthView State House Doodle Poll and check one of three boxes. The first column is for those traveling in the van (capacity 12) that will deliver EarthView; the second is for the van leaving at 10:15 to accommodate students with early classes (capacity 15); the third is for people who will get to the State House on their own (marked 12pm, but you can come any time between 9 and 3).

Whether you can join us on April 19 or not, we hope that Massachusetts residents will contact their own representatives and senators to encourage them and members of their staff to visit EarthView. You can use the Find Your Legislator page to obtain a phone number and email address for such invitations.

REMEMBER: The State House is a secure facility with metal detectors and bag scanners. Prepare as if going to an airport.