Where is Geography Taught? The Ambiguity of the Global Studies Classroom

Authors: Kenneth Carano*, Western Oregon University, Todd Kenreich*, Towson University
Topics: Geography Education, Resources, Higher Education
Keywords: Global studies, geography, conceptualizations
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In an interconnected world, global and geographic literacies take on an increasing importance (Lambert, Solem, and Tani 2015). Unfortunately, these are topics not often mandated by states in the U.S. (Carano and Berson 2007). The course traditionally making these connections is Global Studies. Yet, this course has different curricula conceptualizations. Unlike traditional social studies courses (e.g., American History, World History, Economics, Government), with similarly structured curriculum across the country, Global Studies courses often espouse differing curricula within states. In an ongoing investigation, the presenters have, thus far, conducted interviews with 14 teachers from three states, and found Global Studies courses taking four forms (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Breakdown of Teacher’s and Themes
THEME # of Teachers
Global Studies as World Geography 6
Global Studies as Teaching 20th & 21st Century World History 4
Global Studies as World History 2: Age of Exploration to the Current World 2
Global Studies as Thematic approach (e.g. Terrorism, Climate Change, etc.) 2

A teacher transferring to a new district, spoke to the course’s ambiguity. When describing his Global Studies curriculum for the forthcoming academic year, he stated “I’m really not sure. In the past when I taught global studies it was a geography course but I am moving to a new district and I haven’t found out if that is the content of their school’s global studies course.” The implications of these differing course conceptualizations on student global and geographic literacies are discussed in this presentation.

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