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Latest news from the Geo-capabilities 2 Project
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Welcome to Geo-capabilities 2

Welcome to the first Geo-capabilities 2 project newsletter. The newsletter will keep you up-to-date with activities and outcomes of the project and its partners. 

What are Geo-capabilities?

Following Amartya Sen’s influential work in welfare economics, the capability approach focuses ultimately on human freedoms. We think of these as the opportunities people have to realise the types of lives they want to lead.

This project is interested is how different human beings achieve different levels of well-being even when the ‘inputs’ (indicated by metrics such a per capita income) are similar. We are interested in human qualities and agency. We are very interested in how formal educational structures and their contents can contribute to enhancing human capabilities (or opportunities and potentials).


 

Why Geo-capabilities?

This project explores the particular role of geography in formal education. Geography takes the Earth (as the home of people) as an object of study, and at some level is therefore always concerned with human survival (Alastair Bonnett).  It is for this reason that geographical knowledge, which enables people to ‘think geographically’ about themselves in the world, usually contributes to formal school curricula. But it is often marginalised, under threat or in a reduced state – sometimes from curricula that over-emphasise generic/basic skills or from curriculum turf wars with STEM subjects.

GeoCapabilities re-asserts the power of geographical knowledge in school and its role in enhancing young people’s capabilities.

Geo-capabilities 2 Web Site

The project is in its first months and the research phase. During this time, and while we work out our detailed dissemination plan, we have launched our project website to begin to communicate the main ideas and principles underpinning GeoCapabilities. Have a look. Send us your comments

Recent Geo-capabilities 2 Workshops

Teacher workshops have been run in Guildford (GA Conference) and Florida (AAG Meeting). One of the themes we wanted to explore with teachers at these events was ‘Powerful Knowledge’ (Michael Young). Download the Geo-capabilities vignette used to generate lively discussion.



GeoCapabilities  explores how geography can be seen as a powerful knowledge. We are clear that powerful knowledge is geography is made more accessible, to more young people, through the use of ‘powerful pedagogies’ (Margaret Roberts). The project will develop exemplars of lessons and teaching approaches that will model what we mean ... but that’s for the future!

Researching Geo-capabilities 

Qualitative research is taking place to explore enhancing Geo-capabilities in the classroom, using four Geography teachers. They attended three workshops as part of the study. In workshop one they explored the notion of GeoCapabilities and went away and recorded evidence of GeoCapabilities being enhanced in their normal lessons.


In workshop two they shared their findings. The vehicle to enhance GeoCapabilities was discussed. This led to the discussion of curriculum making and the identification of curriculum artefacts. Each teacher identified a curriculum artefact and used this with their classes noting to what extent the curriculum artefact enhanced GeoCapabilities. The final workshop saw discussion of success and viewpoints being shared on the pedagogical choices behind GeoCapabilities. Results will be shared through the project Web site

A number of published papers are available online

Geo-capabilities Beyond Europe

Beyond Europe, the GeoCapabilities 2 project has begun to initiate work in countries where educational cultures and newly emerging geography curriculums offer richer and more diverse contexts for exploring relationships between geography and human capabilities.
In recent months the AAG’s Michael Solem traveled to Singapore and China to engage aspiring geography teachers in the work of the project. The aim was to interpret with these students their conceptions of human potential and wellbeing to understand better how they define the broader goals of geography in the school curriculum. After reflecting on examples of capabilities, the students were asked to develop and share their ideas for what a geography curriculum might look like if it were based on capabilities principles. 
The AAG’s Michael Solem (pictured center) recently visited a class of pre-service geography teachers at Beijing Normal University. Dr. Solem taught a short course based on the GeoCapabilities initiative.
GeoCapabilities has official partners in:
Belgium, England, Finland, Greece, Turkey and the USA.
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Associate partners already include: Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore and Sweden.
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Copyright © 2014 EUROGEO, All rights reserved.
his project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
 
This newsletter reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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