# How Geography Examines and Analyzes the World

by
Steven C. Smith

WOODROW WILSON TORCH INSTITUTE: GIS & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC
SUMMER 1999

INTRODUCTION

PROBLEMS

To demonstrate for students how geography examines and analyzes the world.  To determine how the world can be divided into regions, as developed in Michael Bradshaw text, The New Global Order: A World Regional Geography.

For further information see, click on the book.

Image from NGS World Atlas

Teaching Strategy:

• Introduce the concepts relevant to student understanding of how geography examines and analyzes information.
• Introduce the following problem: How do we divide the world into regions?  Why?
•  Instructor uses ArcView to generate maps that compare a variety of geographic characteristics for the world in order to identify possible major world regions.
• Ask students to analyze the maps and formulate possible conclusions about how we could, and why we might divide the world into regions?
• Instructor uses ArcView to change the statistical parameters for the data in the GIS behind the maps, making changes in the appearance of the map information.
• Ask students to make inferences about the causes of these changes.
• For a class that has access to a computer lab, the internet, and ArcView software, give them an ArcView project that contains the raw data, and direct the students to add themes from the data folder and activate those themes to generate various maps.  From this, activity, students can formulate hypotheses related a variety of themes.

Examples of ArcView GIS Maps:

The following graphics illustrate a map of the expected world population in 2000.
The following graphics illustrate a map of the world population density in 1985.
The following graphics illustrate a map of the previous maps with the population density overlaid on the projected 2000 population.
The following graphic illustrates a map of world regions, generated in ArcView, as used in The New Global Order, by M. Bradshaw.

DATA SOURCES
All world census data for the ArcView images was obtained from ArcWorld 1:3M, a comprehensive GIS database for use with ARC/INFO and ArcView; ESRI World Atlas; and Getting to Know ArcView; all provided by ESRI.
Examples of other maps that could be used in a GIS:

The following graphics illustrates map of Gross Domestic Product.

Image from GDP web pages

The following graphics illustrates map of World Climate.

Image from WorldBook Online Atlas
CONCLUSION:
• With the use of a GIS program such as ArcView, and a multi-media projector, it is possible for an instructor to display GIS data and perform analysis as an integral element within a class lecture.  This can help students to not only see the elements of the lesson more effectively, but allow them to participate in the process of analyzing of the material for drawing conclusions from the lesson. In addition, this will provide students with a better understanding of what a GIS is and an example of how it could be used by government or industry for analysis.
• The major problems encountered by teachers and students using ArcView are mostly derived from the occasion of data and how to get it to work in the program.  These issues make the learning curve rather steep and the amount of time required for using a GIS rather large for any casual user.

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