Enhancing Powerful Geography with Human-Environment Geography




Larsen, Thomas B.
Harrington, John

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


GeoCapabilities and Powerful Geography are advancing the conversation related to improving the relevance and status of geography within K-12 education during the so-called Third Enlightenment. Credibility and success of geography’s contribution to K-12 education will be increased with the addition of capabilities provided by the human-environment identity, such as adapting to emerging circumstances, thinking in systems, and adopting a sense of timefulness. Traditionally, human-environment geography has encompassed three substantive areas: human impacts on the environment, the environment as hazard, and environmental perception. Each of these areas has implications for Powerful Geography’s fundamental premise: to help teachers generate bottom-up curricula that better align diverse student aspirations with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives employed by professional geographers. Contemporary K-12 teachers are members of teams who attempt to integrate curricular activities across their subject areas, which include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Human-environment subjects, such as climatic change, environmental pollution, sense of place, drought, or flooding, provide useful interdisciplinary subjects for integrative teaching. Using an understanding of how K-12 geography education has addressed human-environment issues since the introduction of the five themes in the 1980s, this paper discusses how a marginalized aspect of geography can greatly assist Powerful Geography.



k-12 education, curriculum, integrative teaching, powerful Geography, GeoCapabilities, environmental issues


Larsen, T. B., Harrington, J. (2020). Enhancing powerful geography with human-environment geography. Research in Geographic Education, 22(1), pp. 43-62.


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