Mapping Global Connections

Authors: Innisfree Mckinnon*, University of Wisconsin-Stout
Topics: Anthropocene, Higher Education, Global Change
Keywords: pedagogy, visualization, anthropocene
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We live in an age of unprecedented access to global data and various types of visualizations based on that data. Yet this access has complicated rather than clarified the public’s understanding of global processes. In this paper I discuss the challenges of communicating complex geographical concepts in relation to nature-society interactions and globalization in entry level undergraduate geography courses. I assume that students (such as mine) in general education courses at a regional polytechnic college, are being educated primarily as citizens, in order to allow them to understand global processes and engage in local, regional, and national political decision making. Visual media can be accessible for entry level students in a way that written material isn’t, given mixed levels of reading comprehension. Students are awash in visualizations and immersed in visual discourses whereas written discourses can be unfamiliar and challenging. I discuss how I use visual media, to communicate complex concepts in my general education classes. I also explore the mix of visual media that I find useful and the shortcomings of many conventional visualizations, including maps, photos, and documentaries, which tend to reinforce simplistic conceptualizations of global processes. Then the discussion moves on to the political economies of knowledge production and how more nuanced and useful visualizations might be produced.

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