Image from Annual Report

As horrified citizens crowded around television monitors tuned to news outlets in the aftermath of the November terror attack that left more than 160 people dead in Mumbai, India, several things became clear. First was the common expression of condemnation, outrage and concern that flowed forth from all corners of the world about the atrocity of the attack. Then, in whispered voices, many could be overheard asking, “Where is Mumbai?” “How did the attackers get there by boat?” and more often, “I didn’t know Bombay was now called Mumbai. When did that happen?”

WCSU Assistant Professor of Geography Dr. Alex Standish would say that therein lies the imperative to teach geography. He makes his case in a recently published text, “Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum: Reviewing the Moral Case for Geography.” Standish, a native of Oxford, England, who was educated both in the United Kingdom and the United States, has researched the rise of “global ethics” in the curriculum.

Standish believes there’s been a shift in geography education from teaching students about national issues to concentrating on the students themselves and what they perceive their place to be in the world. The underlying change, he said, is a new focus on the individual as a “global citizen.”

“In some geography curricula today, a global perspective is precisely one of these political initiatives being offered as a way to engage young people socially,” Standish asserted in the introduction to his book. “However, global perspectives fail to provide meaning to people’s lives in the way that national perspectives did in the past. This is because it lacks a positive vision of a better tomorrow, faith in collective action for social change or a final goal, and distrusts the moral autonomy of individuals to bring about such change. As such, it is more of a project in shaping individuals than society.”