This school year, my curriculum changed from “World Geography” to “Global Studies.” It’s more than a name change, it reflects a change in what we deem essential for students to know. We are deliberating focusing on the human geography piece more than the physical geography side – something I’ve written about before in “Why Geography Matters Now More than Ever.”

And while I don’t have students memorize maps  (another controversial post) I do still use them nearly everyday. We’re currently talking about governments and human rights (definitely both human geography topics) and we have spent a lot of time looking at this map that comes to us from Freedom House.

Freedom in the World – 2018

Freedom House opens our eyes to how “free” the world truly is. It shows us how countries compare in terms of political rights and civil liberties. It explains how a country like Russia looks like it has a democracy according to its constitution, but when you look at what is really happening there, it is nothing more than a dictatorship.

One of the best things for students to see is how despite chants of the United States being the “land of the free,” in Freedom House’s 2018 report, we’re tied for 51st place. That’s not to say that there are 50 other countries that would be better for us to live in, but when you look at countries through are freedom lens, we have an opportunity to grow.

A word of warning…

Freedom House is not written at a junior high or even a high school level. The reports that explain what is happening in a country are heavy in legal speak and well above the comprehension level of most students.

That being said, it is still a great resource. When students look at scores, and where countries gain and lost points in their overall freedom score, it’s a great resource!


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