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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Students need to learn more geography in the state’s public schools, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville geography professor said Wednesday.

“We have found college students in Tennessee who don’t know what continent they live on,” Dr. Sid Jumper said. “It (lack of geography knowledge) is really worse than most people realize.”

To help alleviate the problem, the National Geographic Society is offering the state a matching grant of $500,000 to improve geography instruction in public schools.

Jumper and Gilbert M. Grosvenor, president of the society and former editor of its magazine, met Tuesday with state officials to discuss the grant.

The money would be especially helpful in preparing teachers to teach geography, Jumper said.

“The big problem is that very few teachers are trained in geography,” Jumper said.

Knowledge of geography is more important than ever for competing in the global marketplace, he said.

“The global economy is growing like crazy, there’s worldwide availability to the Internet, and we have people who can’t find Europe on a map of the world,” Jumper said.

Contact: Dr. Sid Jumper (423-974-6034)