Geographic Literacy in Canada
When Can Geo Education (formerly CCGE) was formed in 1993, one of its objectives
was “to promote geographic literacy in Canada.”
In addition to the programs put in place by Can Geo Education to further geography in Canada, a
number of specific initiatives aimed at improving geographic literacy were undertaken.
Canadian Geographic Education commits to NGS geographic literacy goal for 2025
In February 2009, the National Geographic Society launched a new phase of their campaign for geographic literacy with the goal to approach universal geographic literacy. Specifically, NGS set a goal to achieve 80 percent rates of geographic literacy in all 50 states amongst 18-year-olds by 2025.
Geographic literacy is defined by NGS as the ability of students to apply geographic skills and understanding in their personal and civic lives. A second goal to achieve 50 percent geographic fluency in all 50 states at the same time has also been set by NGS.
Geographic fluency is a higher standard, which is defined as preparation sufficient for successful postsecondary study in subjects that require geographic skills and understanding (e.g. international affairs or environmental science).
Canadian Geographic Education has committed to work towards this 2025 goal for geographic literacy in all 13 provinces and territories in Canada. Canadian Geographic Education will be working independently and also in partnership with the NGS towards achieving this goal.
History versus Geography on the Canadian Atlas Online
In June 2009, ten Historical
Geography modules were added to the bilingual Canadian Atlas Online from The Historical Atlas of Canada, published by University of Toronto Press. In the fall of 2009, a viral campaign to promote the new historical geography modules on the Canadian Atlas Online was launched. The campaign included ads in Canadian Geographic magazine, videos on YouTube, a Facebook group and ‘tweets’ on Twitter. In debating the merits of History versus Geography, this campaign drew attention to the importance of geographic literacy in a fun and engaging way, aimed at students and youth.
Canadian Geographic Education Scholarship on Geographic Literacy
After an open call for applications, Chris Charman, a PhD student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON, was awarded a $5,000 research scholarship from Canadian Geographic Education. His PhD thesis is entitled “Geographic Literacy: A Benchmark Study of Ontario Secondary School Students Approaching Graduation”. His work, once complete, will help provide tools to assess the geographic literacy of high school students.
Canadian Geographic magazine ads “This is geography”
Two ads in Canadian Geographic magazine appeared in November 2007 and January 2008 drawing attention to non-traditional aspects of geography.
Geography Literacy flyer
“Ten Reasons Why Every Student Should Study Geography”
A two-sided one-page flyer on the importance of geographic education was distributed to all Canadian Geographic Education members in the fall of 2006.
Canadian Geographic Literacy Award
Awarded “to honour and recognize individual effort in the development, enhancement and promotion of geographic literacy in Canadian education.” For more information about the nomination process and past winners, see
Inaugurated in 2000, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, this annual award draws attention to geographic literacy through public celebration of the recipients.
Symposium on “Projecting Geography
in the Public Domain in Canada”
Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Meeting
University of Western Ontario
June 2-3, 2005
This two-day symposium will be looking at ways to project geography more effectively in the public domain. The opening session will be
followed by five topics that form the core sessions for the symposium: universities and colleges, politics and government, business and industry, schools, and
the media. Each session will involve the presentation of a position paper, a response and an opportunity for focused discussion.
• View the symposium program
• View the position papers
Geography, Universities and Colleges
Position paper by Margaret North
Response by André Roy
Geography, Politics and Government
Position paper by Peter Harrison
Response by Barbara Veale
Geography, Business and Industry
Position paper by David Bond
Response by Susan Laskin
Geography and Schools
Position paper by Dick Mansfield
Response by Beth Dye
Geography and the Media
Position paper by Barry Wellar
Response by Peter Desbarats
Geographic Literacy Survey
In May 2005, a survey to assess levels of geographic literacy in the Canadian population was undertaken by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for presentation at the joint Canadian Geographic Education/CAG symposium in London.
GeoLiteracy survey (Microsoft Powerpoint)
Test your own geographic literacy by answering the 20 survey questions and compare your answers to the survey respondents.
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“Canadian Geographic magazine is an excellent resource for teachers and students. It provides posters in both official languages, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway map, as well as short geography related news items suitable for current events. In addition, the June issue each year is devoted to environmental issues such as wind energy.”