Geography Awareness Week (GAW) 2014 takes place November 16-23! This year’s theme is “The Future of Food.” If you are not familiar with GAW, it is a nationwide event where the geography community comes together to focus efforts on sharing with others why our discipline is so important. These efforts take on a variety of different faces from having a Governor’s proclamation to themed library displays and geocaches. Traditionally, the Wednesday of GAW is “GIS Day” and awareness efforts on this day focus on how GIS can transform our understanding of and ability to analyze spatial information.
MGA’s Geography Awareness Week coordinator is Meri Marsh; she’s fresh from the NCGE (National Council for Geography Education) meeting in Memphis and is full of great ideas for promoting “Future of Food” events and activities in communities across the state.
More on this year’s theme:
National Geographic Society’s Education Foundation determines the yearly theme for GAW. This year’s theme corresponds with a Society-wide effort to focus on food-related issues. In addition to a multiplicity of resources on their website, NGS, beginning this past May, has dedicated one article in every edition of the magazine for the next year to food-related issues. Food is inherently geographic, not only as a classic entryway into a culture’s unique identity and traditions, but also in its ability to help us understand a myriad of geographic issues including landscape, climate/climate change, sustainability, and inequality, among other topics.
What you can expect during (or before) this year’s GAW:
- Governor Nixon’s official proclamation, as well as proclamations from every county across Missouri!
- Themed Displays at school and public libraries across the state.
- A theme-based essay writing contest (in addition to receiving an award, winners will be published on the MGA website).
- Lesson plans/class activities (K-12) for incorporating food related geo-activities in your classroom.
- GIS Day activities in Columbia, St. Charles, and St. Louis (and possibly other locations, stay tuned!)
If you have ideas for other ways to promote geography during GAW, or would like to help with planning efforts, or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Meri at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some resources to whet your appetite (pun intended):
- How National Geographic is focusing on this theme over the course of the year: http://food.nationalgeographic.com/filter/all
- Jamie Oliver’s TED talk, “Teach Every Child about Food”: http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver
- The USDA’s incredibly interesting research (and interactive map) on food access: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/go-to-the-atlas.aspx#.U9_bE2N_Xsc