Geography@About.com links to two videos by National Geographic on geo-literacy, the new term for knowing geographic knowledge.
After watching these films I felt they were good but still miss the mark. We need to make geography marketable. So with a scratchy voice, no budget or movie making skills what so ever, the sounds of the city in the background, and one slip up I have created my own geo-literacy video entitled "I'm a Geographer, Hire Me"
And here's the script
There are a series of new and revised efforts to expand geographic literacy in the American public. While I support efforts to expand geography and related knowledge I believe we are not giving out the right message. This video is meant to be a new front, not a rebuttal, to previous geo literacy efforts.
Some other efforts state that increased georaphic literacy will help end wars, save the environment, and other great things. I can say that educating more people in geography will not usher in a utopia. However, I can guarantee that in this market economy, educating people in geography will create much more marketable people who can better serve businesses and themselves. In short, geographers can make everyone money.
So let us take a look at how educating people with geography can help people and businesses.
Buying a house
Buying a home is usually the biggest economic decision a person will make in their life. Geography plays a being role in this decision. People use geography to figure out the taxes one would need to pay, the commute to work, the schools children would attend, and nearby things like parks to relax in or avoid. Physical geography and map reading also play a huge role. Let us say you want to buy a house for a very cheap price to the south of town. By loading up a United States Geological Survey topographic map on Google Earth one can zoom into the area and see sink holes have formed in the house's area. It does not take a genius to know that buying a house in a sinkhole infested area is a bad idea, but it does take a geographer to understand the map and therefore know the risks. So remember geography when making this decision or when you decide to be a real estate agent.
Marketing firms and stores use geography to research better business practices without even knowing it. A simple survey can find out where customers live and what mode of travel they take to a store. A geographer can upload this information into a Geographic Information Systems, GIS, program. GIS is a database software which overlays maps and numerical data on top of each other. By looking at the addresses a geographer can then compare census track economical data to figure out the average incomes of the customers. With modes of transportation a geographer can assess routes taken to the store. With this knowledge derived from a geographer the store knows the income and transportation routes of customers. This information is a gold mine which people tend to be less likely to give on surveys. Now the store can better target customers with affordable goods in places where customers will see the advertisements.
Political and Business Consultancy
A person who can do regional geography comparisons can be a major resource for politicians and businesses. Let us look at one of the major political issues of the decade: health care reform. Conservatives missed out by not doing their regional geography homework. A regional geographer could have examined health care affordability, access, and scale of living for counties which already received the already existing major government run health care program known as the Indian Health Service. IHS-serviced counties could then be compared to Indian reservation counties which rely on tribal payed system through casinos and non-Indian counties on similar economic levels. Long story short, a political consultant who knows their geography could have made a powerful talking point for anti-Obamacare forces.
Ours is a world which runs on natural resources. The engine of the world is in constant need of oil, natural gas, coal, and alike. However, it does not take a geographer, though it helps, to point out that many of the resources we need are either in countries we really do not want to do business with or have to travel through places which could be closed any minute because of war. So geomorpholgists and our geologist kin can study landforms and how the land was formed to figure out areas where untapped resources lie. North Dakota, currently one of the few states mostly immune from the recession, is doing so well because the western portion of the state is crawling with geographers making judgements on where to run test drills. These geographers start a chain reaction which is creating jobs all throughout the state.
On top of this, new private efforts are emerging to mine asteroids and nearby planets for their resources. If only there was a similar, Earth-bound study they could rely to help figure out where resources would be. Oh wait, there is. It is called geography.
From buying a house to mining the final frontier geographic literacy can help people improving themselves, businesses, and economy. Knowing geography is a force multiplier for anyone in the economy. In short, let us geographers proudly state "I'm a geographer, hire me."