20/20 Vision on Implementation: Powerful Geography, Project Management, and the Scales of Educational Institutions




Larsen, Thomas Barclay

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


It is not enough for national and international institutions to pledge support to advance geography in education. Transformation happens among the overlapping contexts of states, provinces, counties, cities, and school districts. Large-scale efforts in American geographic education have taken for granted the complexities of institutions at overlapping scales, with special attention to place-level contexts. Powerful Geography employs an empirical approach to tailor career-based geographic knowledge to the standards and curricula that classroom teachers use. To implement this initiative, geographers must think critically and pragmatically about project management in the local and regional settings of institutions that adopt and design curricula. A critical mindset reveals that institutions have limits to their effectiveness at different scales; those limits can result in uneven management across the educational landscape. A pragmatic mindset combines a humanistic appreciation of localities and practical decision-making to improve prospects for Powerful Geography's implementation and impact on students' career readiness in their communities and regions. Powerful Geography requires 20/20 vision to correct for the limitations of either top-down or bottom-up approaches to institutional implementation. This paper advocates for seeing more clearly the broader institutional mosaic and developing management strategies for diffusing capabilities-driven geography education.



geography, powerful geography, capabilities approach, project management, geography education, broader impacts


Larsen, T.B. (2018). 20/20 vision on implementation: Powerful geography, project management, and the scales of educational institutions. Research in Geographic Education, 20(2), pp. 15-28.


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