The highlight of the event for the My Wonderful World team
was an intensive, spirited, one day workshop for our Public Engagement
These are our grassroots organizers who promote the cause for geographic
education in communities across the nation–and the world.
We started the training session by posing a series of
questions related to messaging and strategy:
Why is geography
What do we want the
public to do?
How can we promote
Geography Awareness Week 2008 through traditional and new media?
How can partnerships
and events enhance campaign reach?
Then, we put the PECs to work developing plans to localize the campaign in their states. At the end
of the day, though, I think we may have learned as much from them as they did
from us. This highly energetic, experienced group of educators brought some
great ideas to the table that we are excited to implement soon!
Most rewarding was that the PECs carried the energy generated at the
workshop with them throughout the rest of the weekend, infecting others in the
NCGE community with the same fervor for geographic activism, and actively
participating in several additional National Geographic-led sessions at the
Following Thursday’s workshop we now have over 100 trained Public Engagement Coordinators in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. You may have met one of these hardy geo-evangelists
at an event in your hometown. Perhaps
it was even a PEC who first introduced you to the My Wonderful World campaign!
As we all raced around the Henry Ford Museum
during a Friday night gala like wide-eyed children, I was struck by connections
between the museum and our own workshop. I stepped into a mobile diner that had
been transplanted from my home state of Massachusetts,
and reflected on our PECs who had traveled far and
wide from their own hometowns to join us in Dearborn. Included among the Americana artifacts were
many projects and ideas once perceived as “radical” when first introduced. Some
of these resulted in failed ventures (e.g. the “Dymaxion” house ),
while others wholly changed the course and character of American and global society
(e.g. the Wright Brothers airplane).
Whether ultimately successful or not, all represented daring
attempts to challenge the status quo and advance human progress through innovation.
And here we were in this museum, itself a wonderful hands-on educational
resource, offering our own challenge to the educational status quo. Call me
overzealous, but I believe that serious reform to expand quality geographic
education offerings–reform that would instill students with a spatial perspective
and equip them with the knowledge and skills to tackle critical global and
local issues like climate change, the energy crisis, immigration, cultural conflict, urban
sprawl, and disease diffusion–could have as profound an impact on the leaders
of tomorrow, and global society at large, as some of the major technological
innovations of the 20th century. Do you agree?
Did you attend NCGE? What were your favorite parts of the
We hope to see all of you next year when the NCGE meeting will
be held in San Juan, Puerto