Winnie Hu’s recent NY Times article, “Geography Report Card Finds Students Lagging” (July 20, 2011) laments the fact that fewer than in one in three American students are proficient in geography–to the point where they can’t even identify the American Southwest on a map, according to report of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The article is rich in irony, quoting Penn State’s Roger Downs, that “geography’s role in the curriculum is limited, and, at best, static.”
That is ironic given the convincing case that can be made for the importance of geographic literacy,” Mr. Downs said. “But it is doubly ironic given a world in which adults and now children have smartphones and tablets that can download maps on the fly, provide directions to places, and give your location to your friends.
The article also cites the concerns of David P. Drsicoll, the National Assessment Governing Board chair:
“Geography is not just about maps,” said Driscoll…who expressed concern that students were not doing better in geography. “It is a rich and varied discipline that, now more than ever, is vital to understanding the connections between our global economy, environment and diverse cultures.”
Geography Report Card Finds Students Lagging – NYTimes.com.
Seattle is the nation’s sixth-most walkable city, according to Seattle-based Walk Score, a website that rates cities on how walkable they are.
New York is the country’s most walkable city, according to Walk Score, followed by San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Walk Score ranks cities from zero to 100 based on a resident’s proximity to stores, restaurants, schools and other services.
||Walker’s Paradise — Daily errands do not require a car.
||Very Walkable — Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
||Somewhat Walkable — Some amenities within walking distance.
||Car-Dependent — A few amenities within walking distance.
||Car-Dependent — Almost all errands require a car
In Seattle, the highest-ranked neighborhoods, according to Walk Score, are:
1. Denny Triangle — 98.
2. South Lake Union — 97.
3. Belltown — 97.
4. Cascade — 95.
5. Ballard — 94.
6. First Hill — 94.
7. Downtown — 93.
8. University District — 92.
9. Waterfront — 92.
10. Capitol Hill — 91.
Of Seattle’s 103 neighborhoods ranked by Walk Score, Rainier View has the lowest score, at 22.
Here’s a link to the Seattle neighborhood Walk Score rankings.
Seattle is the state’s best city for walking, according to Walk Score, with an overall Walk Score of 74. Tacoma ties with Kirkland for next best, at 59. Frederickson, south of Tacoma, has the state’s worst Walk Score average, at 12.
Professor Emeritus Richard Morrill and Professor Michael Brown
The Seattle Times has profiled the Geography Department’s new anthology, Seattle Geographies, edited by professor Michael Brown and Emeritus Professor Dick Morrill. The book, which is being unveiled this week at the AAG Conference in Seattle, emphasizes Geography’s unique spatial perspective on the Seattle region’s many “paradoxes”, including:
• Seattle may have a reputation as liberal and tolerant, “but it can also be quite controlling,” Brown says. For example, it has adopted stringent rules about social behavior that give police the authority to exclude people from parks if they violate rules or laws.
• The area has a long-standing fear of big government, but voters seem willing to tax themselves significantly, Morrill says.
• Though Seattle has a reputation as a high-tech mecca, one-third of the local economy is still fueled by manufacturing, notes Professor Emeritus William Beyers.
The book includes article by faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, and addresses such diverse cultural, social and ecnomic isues as voting patterns in presidential elections across the region, to relatively small, such as the politics of locating and building a skateboard park, and what that issue says about social and generational tensions.
The Seattle Times article also talks about the UW Geography Department, pointing to a “renaissance” in the discipline, and emphasizing our accountability to place, field-based research, and community engagement.
Edward Glaeser uses his NY Times Economix blog to make a fascinating case for the recent transformation of Seattle’s economy chiefly via the consolidation of human capital–a largely local and spatial argument for economic success in a global economy. Citing the UW (along with Microsoft, Starbuck’s, Amazon, etc) as key drivers of the local economy, Glaeser argues that:
A great paradox of our age is that despite the declining cost of connecting across space, more people are clustering together in cities. The explanation of that strange fact is that globalization and technological change have increased the returns on being smart, and humans get smart by being around other smart people.
Dense, smart cities like Seattle succeed by attracting smart people who educate and employ one another.
Edward L. Glaeser: How Seattle Transformed Itself – NYTimes.com.