Initiative Aimed at Increasing Geographic Literacy in Elementary and Secondary Education
Redlands, California—July 13, 2009—The newly established GeoMentor program was jointly announced by ESRI and the National Geographic Society (NGS) on Monday, July 13, 2009, during the Plenary Session of ESRI’s 29th annual International User Conference in San Diego.
The program will enlist people who use geographic information to help educators and students better understand its numerous applications. These GeoMentors adopt a classroom or afterschool program, helping both the teacher and students comprehend the many ways geography and geographic information systems (GIS) can help us better understand the interrelatedness of objects and events in our world.
Because people in many jobs rely on geography to analyze conditions and make decisions, GeoMentors can come from a variety of professions aside from the GIS professional, including police officers, social workers, taxi drivers, city planners, and farmers. Participants interested in becoming a GeoMentor should have a good understanding of geographic concepts and how they can be applied in everyday life, and be willing to share their knowledge with local teachers and their students.
Says Daniel C. Edelson, vice president for education, National Geographic Society, "The rate of geoliteracy in the United States—meaning the number of people who can synthesize geographic information from a variety of sources and draw a sound conclusion—is frighteningly low. If it is allowed to continue, the inability of most Americans to do even basic analysis of geographic information will have a profound impact on our ability to compete economically, maintain our security, and sustain our environment in coming decades. To help boost the numbers of geographically literate and proficient individuals, National Geographic and ESRI are teaming up on the GeoMentor program to pair those using geographic information in their work with teachers to bring a greater awareness of the use of geography into the classroom."
Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI’s K–12 program manager, adds, "This program is an exciting addition to our educational efforts here at ESRI, particularly because of the opportunity to join forces with the National Geographic Society. Since ESRI deals with many thousands of practitioners of geography, and NGS deals with many thousands of educators, this unique collaboration between GIS users and educators could help youth throughout the world see the geographic patterns and relationships around them. This will allow them to understand the interactions of the world more clearly and make decisions about matters, large and small, with a better grasp of the inherent impacts."
The GeoMentor Web site has tools for pairing mentors with educators, finding activities, acquiring resources from both the National Geographic Society and ESRI, and sharing stories. Additional details can be found at www.geomentor.org.
About National Geographic
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," the society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 360 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and four other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; DVDs; maps; and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
Since 1969, ESRI has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, ESRI software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. ESRI applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world’s mapping and spatial analysis. ESRI is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. Visit us at www.esri.com.
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