Geographical Ignorance Leads to Foreign Policy Missteps, Trio Says
A lack of geographical knowledge in the United States has led to misconceptions of the world and misguided foreign policy decisions, Jerry Dobson, professor of geography at the University of Kansas recently told The University Daily Kansan:
“It is not just our beauty contestants that have these problems,” Dobson said. “We face a society in which national leaders don’t understand fundamental geography.”Dr. Dobson was joined by Brian McClendon, co-founder of engineering for Google Earth and Alexander Murphy professor of geography at the University of Oregon, in presenting “World Hot Spots: What Google Earth and Geography Tell Us About War, Peace and Politics” at the Dole Institute at the university last Thursday.
“For the past 60 years, we’ve had more quagmires than victories,” Dobson said. “This coincides with the American purge of geography. We’re playing a game of blind man’s bluff.”
During their presentation, the trio made the case for what they called a largely forgotten field: geography.
“It is not just our beauty contestants that have these problems,” Dobson said. “We face a society in which national leaders don’t understand fundamental geography.”
Dr. Murphy stated that part of the problem is that people view geography as nothing but the memorization of states and capitals. Mr. McClendon said he hoped the availability of Google Earth would help people embrace geography.
Dr. Dobson told the Daily Kansan that of the top-20 private universities in the U.S., only two have geography departments.