Students in Dr. Kate Swanson’s Qualitative Methods in Geography upper division course took on a special assignment last year. They constructed a research project that examined young people’s geographical knowledge, global awareness and perspectives on geography education. The young people under study included both undergraduates at San Diego State University and high school students in Sweetwater Union High School District who had taken the district’s World Geography and Global Issues course. While one finding is that there is still a lot of room for improvement in young people’s geographical knowledge, the report also indicates that young people have increasingly global concerns and see geography courses as extremely useful in helping them to make sense of the issues confronting and connecting people around the world. You can review the report here.
There are some interesting excerpts from interviews conducted with 24 Sweetwater students. For example,
Question: Do you think American students need a geography education?
Answer: “Yeah, because I don’t think most kids know what is going on in the world. Like, I don’t think a person who doesn’t have a geography class knows what’s going on in Syria…”