National Geography Standards 14-18: Environment and Society & The Uses of Geography

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, we will define and discuss standards 14-18 of the National Geography Standards. These standards deal with the uses of geography as well as the crossroads between the environment and society.

The Environment, Society, and Geography

Why bother using geography? How has our environment and society intersected one another in important ways? These two questions, and plenty more, are addressed by standards 14-18 of the National Geography Standards.

They deal with two important elements: the environment and society, and the uses of geography. This lesson will define these five standards and provide concrete examples of them as well as important questions you may need to ask your students in order to help them critically think through their individual components.

The Environment and Society

Standards 14-16 deal with the key elements of the Environment and Society. Let's go over their basic concepts one by one.

Standard 14: How Human Actions Modify the Physical Environment

Students need to be able to identify how habitats have changed as a result of human activities - like building highways that divide a forest or draining a swamp to build a city. How has the loss of coastal marshland affected how hurricanes impact the cities in the United States? Students need to be able to identify things like the creation of artificial heat islands thanks to urbanization. On the flipside, make sure they understand how humans try to help the environment through sustainable forestry and wetland restoration.

Standard 15: How Physical Systems Affect Human Systems

This standard covers things like the way humans behave as a result of physical processes in our environment. For example, how do we build houses in earthquake zones vs. tornado areas vs. places where storm surges may occur? How does the amount of rainfall affect the types of crops that we can grow in one part of the world vs. another? Help students understand that humans have adapted to an ecosystems carrying capacity now and in the past. For example, you may use nomadic lifestyles in rough parts of the world as a demonstration of the only means of survival in such areas for people that live there. Explain why they can't grow crops there and, thus, must live a nomadic lifestyle to survive as a result of that area's geography.

Standard 16: The Changes that Occur in the Meaning, Use, Distribution, and Importance of Resources

Why should we recycle, and why do we only recycle certain things? How can we improve our water use? Teach students how physical processes have formed various nonrenewable resources more so in some parts of the world vs. others. Why does Saudi Arabia have so much oil but Costa Rica have so little? Have students compare the different types of alternative energy resources and what their advantages and disadvantages are.

The Uses of Geography

The final two standards of the National Geography Standards deal with the element of the Uses of geography.

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