Teaching Critical Physical Geography

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM (MDT)
Room: Astor Ballroom I, Astor, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Elisabeth Sedano
Chairs: Elisabeth Sedano


This panel follows up on recent calls to bring a critical perspective to physical geography with a conversation on the work of teaching critical physical geography.

Recent physical geography research interrogates the inherent coproduction of landscapes of water, earth, and climate with our social worlds. Nineteen scholars have together proposed the subfield Critical Physical Geography, to highlight and encourage work that draws on the rich assemblage of social theory to understand how historical and current social processes and their concomitant material manifestations explain processes within the traditional ken of physical geography (Lave et al. 2014). Tadaki et al. (2015) broaden the call, identifying ways to bring a critical perspective to the work of physical geography without the explicit implication of social theory. A key aspect is to recognize that our work is always political and hence to consider as we frame our research how various governmental, corporate, and community groups are differently implicated.

Fundamental to seeding this domain is pedagogy, and though Lave et al. (2014) and Tadaki et al. (2015) emphasize graduate education, the same lessons hold for undergraduate and secondary school settings, as what we teach and how we teach it reaches a broader student base and impacts more than just future physical geographers.

Recent accounts of pedagogical research that integrate the physical and the social tend be focused on sustainability; indeed, whole journals are devoted to the topic (e.g. International Journal of Sustainability in Education; Journal of Sustainability Education). Certainly, critical physical geography shares much with political ecology and sustainability science, yet critical physical geography differs from these fields in its deep consideration of the physical world in its constitutive role in the biophysical landscape (Lave et al. 2014). Teaching critical physical geography will therefore differ as well, in course content and in institutional and other structural obstacles that might impede this integrative approach.

The panel discussion will include methods and experiences with delivering course content in an integrative manner, barriers to designing and implementing integrated courses, pedagogical models or theories that productively apply to critical physical geography, and/or related topics.


Lave R, Wilson M W, Barron E, Biermann C, Carey M, Doyle M, Duvall C, Johnson L, Lane M, Lorimer J, McClintock N, Munroe D, Pain R, Proctor J, Rhoads B, Robertson M M, Rossi J, Sayre N F, Simon G, Tadaki M and Van Dyke C (2014) Critical physical geography The Canadian Geographer 58, 1-10.

Tadaki M, Brierley G, Dickson M, Le Heron R and Salmand J (2015) Cultivating critical practices in physical geography The Geographical Journal 181:2, 160-171.


Type Details Minutes
Discussant Rebecca Lave Indiana University 15
Panelist Javier Arce-Nazario UPR Cayey 15
Panelist Salvatore Engel-DiMauro SUNY New Paltz 15
Panelist Melanie Malone The Oregon Extension 15
Panelist Nathan Sayre University of California, Berkeley 15
Panelist Elisabeth Sedano University of Southern California 15

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