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What is Geo-Literacy?

In our modern, globally interconnected society, it is more important than ever that people understand the world around them. For that reason, National Geographic is committed to advancing geo-literacy in the U.S. and around the world.

Geo-literacy is the understanding of Earth systems and interconnections that we all need to make good decisions. Whether we are making decisions about where to live, what precautions to take for natural hazards, or how to set up a manufacturing supply chain, we are all called upon to make decisions that require geo-literacy throughout our lives.

On this page, you can find out more about geo-literacy, why it is important, and how you can participate in National Geographic’s geo-literacy efforts.

Daniel C. Edelson, National Geographic Vice President for Education, on Geo-Literacy…

What are the components of geo-literacy?

What are the components of geo-literacy?

The three components of geo-literacy are:
· Interactions: How our world works.
· Interconnections: How the world is connected.
· Implications: How interactions and interconnections determine outcomes of actions.

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Why is geo-literacy important? Geo-literacy enables people to steer away from choices that will be costly for themselves and others. For example, individuals and communities bear costs every time a poorly-located business fails, homes and crops are damaged by flooding, and drivers get stuck in snarled traffic. We pay even larger costs for geo-illiteracy in the form of job loss in a competitive global economy and loss of life from natural hazards and military conflict.

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What can we do to advance geo-literacy? Geo-literacy education should be a priority in schools, communities, and homes. In schools, geo-literacy is taught in both social studies and science. In Earth science, environmental science, and ecology. In history, civics, economics, and geography. None of these subjects receives the attention it deserves in today’s schools, and the teaching in these subjects does not focus sufficiently on preparing students for 21st century decisions. To advance geo-literacy, we need to re-prioritize what we teach, and change how we teach it. We also need to cultivate geo-literacy in our homes and in out-of-school settings.

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Videos about Geo-Literacy

What is Geo-literacy?

What is Geo-literacy?

Geo-literacy is a new term for a long-standing idea consisting of three components: interactions, interconnections, and implications.

Why is Geo-literacy Important?

Why is Geo-literacy Important?

Geo-literacy can reduce the costs of bad decision-making and provide the foundation for positive breakthroughs.


Get Involved with Geo-Literacy

Geo-Literacy on the Hill

Geo-Literacy on the Hill

Learn more about how to advocate for Geo-Literacy.

Fund For Geo-Literacy

Fund For Geo-Literacy

Support National Geographic's Geo-Literacy efforts.

Join Your Local Alliance

Join Your Local Alliance

Read more about National Geographic's Alliance Network.

The Education Foundation

The Education Foundation

Hear about how National Geographic works to support geographic literacy nationwide.