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Derek Alderman, head of the UT Department of Geography, and Kurt Butefish, coordinator of the Tennessee Geographic Alliance, wrote an opinion editorial for the Knoxville News Sentinel about the importance of geography in state social studies curriculum as officials seek to revise the standards. They noted that geography is increasingly becoming a smaller part of the curriculum–which is a disadvantage to K-12 students.

“Well beyond the memorizing of the names of capitals and rivers, studying geography is about realizing the power of ‘where’ and understanding the consequences that location, place, landscape and environment have within our lives,” they said. “Geography, when taught properly, is about preparing global citizens to understand how their existence connects with and is interdependent on people and places in other regions. At the heart of the geographic imagination is the development of empathy and an ethics of care for others in the world — something we could sure use more of these days.”

They added: “By continuing to under-value a geographic education, the social studies standards compromise not only our children’s education and worldview but also their employability.” Read the opinion editorial online.