Submitted by Joseph Kerski:
(Image below) Joseph Kerski in front of one of his favourite things – a map!
The “philosophy” part has to do with respecting, enjoying, and caring for the environment, and seeing the world from a spatial perspective. Other posts on the Day of Geography site make it evident that others share this philosophy and these convictions.
How has this philosophy influenced me? It has deeply affected the way I view the world, how I view our role as people in the world, and how geographic processes are fundamental to understanding the world. How has this influenced my career? It has drawn me into the world of geotechnologies–how we can use digital maps, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and data–to make better decisions on a daily basis on issues that impact the planet.
I believe that spatial analysis with mapping and geotechnologies can transform education and society through better decision-making using the geographic perspective. My goal is to empower educators, students, decision makers, and the general public to think spatially and use geotechnologies in teaching, learning, and research to solve 21st Century problems from local to global scale. These problems include natural hazards, food security, city planning, sustainable agriculture and tourism, water quality and quantity, soil erosion, energy, political instability, crime, human health, and others that grow in complexity and increasingly affect our everyday lives. One of my major goals is to see geotechnologies being used beyond geography, planning, and environmental studies, in such disciplines as history, business, sociology, health, and elsewhere across the campus and in society. My hobbies and interests involve getting out into the field to collect data about the environment, computer mapping, Geographic Information Systems, GPS, remote sensing, analyzing data, teaching, hiking, music, and caving.
(Image at right) Joseph Kerski in the field – guess where?
I served for 22 years as geographer and cartographer at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and the US Geological Survey. I teach online and face-to-face courses at primary and secondary schools, through MOOCs, and universities such as Sinte Gleska University, Penn State, and the University of Denver. I am active in educational nonprofit organizations, including serving as president of the National Council for Geographic Education. Since 2006, I have served as Education Manager for Esri, on a team that emphasis thought leadership in geospatial technologies in formal and informal education at all levels, internationally. I focus on GIS-based curriculum development, research in the effectiveness of GIS in education, professional development for educators, communication about the need for geographic skills, tools, and perspectives through keynote addresses, articles, social media, and workshops, and fostering partnerships to support GIS in education. I am active in creating and teaching online courses in spatial thinking and geotechnologies. I have written books such as Interpreting Our World, Spatial Mathematics, International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS in Secondary Schools, The Essentials of the Environment, Tribal GIS, and The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data. I am on work travel about 1/3 of the time, to regional, national, and international conferences to speak about geotechnologies in education and to learn from others, and to university campuses and even some primary and secondary schools. Some of my more memorable trips have been to 6 universities in Japan, teaching at three secondary schools in the UAE, teaching in a 500 year old educational institute with gold ceilings in Germany, working with a sustainability grant at the Island Institute in Maine, working with a group of educators from Africa and the Middle East in Tunisia, teaching in a rainforest in Costa Rica, meeting some incredible high school and university students and professors in Kenya, and visiting the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, New Mexico State University, and Penn State University for the past few “GIS Day” (www.gisday.com) events. Just a month ago, I had the honor of working with faculty at the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, Canada. But I also find everyday joy in helping the many people who write or call me each day with a technical or educational question.
I write weekly for our GIS education blog, a career education blog, and a spatial data in society blog. I have created over 3,500 videos about geography, STEM, education, GIS, GPS, and remote sensing, mapping, space and place, and fieldwork. For more information about me, see www.josephkerski.com, or my posts on http://twitter.com/josephkerski
For the past decade, the word “green” has been probably been used more than any other to market or promote products, services, and programs. You may have seen green be applied to things that are truly sustainable as well as to things that may not be. Last month I even saw a green phrase used at a gas station: “Our gas is clean and green.” Perhaps the station itself was powered by wind energy? At any rate, there is no doubt that the word “green” is all around us and shows no sign of abating.
In my field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), “green” is used frequently as well, and for good reason. From wind power to tree management to river restoration to other applications, GIS is being applied on a daily basis to solve problems from local to global. In a document entitled “GIS is Green“, it is stated that, “With the growing unease and awareness among large segments of the population that remedial action must be taken to resolve the many environmental crises we now face, GIS solutions are currently being implemented around the world that provide the technological and scientific support necessary to create programs and processes designed to return our planet to a more sustainable and balanced level of use. Whether increasing the efficiency of ﬂeet vehicles by optimizing standard routes and subsequently reducing fuel consumption or determining the optimum location for a wind farm to produce energy with minimal pollution, GIS provides the quantified information and analytical capabilities necessary to make decisions that can both support growth and reduce consumption.
What made me aware that choosing a green career was important? Many of us have pivotal moments that helped shape their career path. My “a-ha moment” in deciding to work for sustainability and geography is when I read a book entitled The Last Great Auk, by Allan W. Eckert, as an 11-year old. Because the author makes the very last of these great birds the protagonist, I found this to be an enjoyable, fascinating book that reads very much like a novel. However, I also knew that these great flightless birds would go extinct at the end of the book on 3 July 1844, and knowing this was the way the book would end did not make it easy to read. I knew upon reaching the end of the book that I wanted to have a career involving mapping and studying the Earth in some way, and perhaps in my own way prevent future extinctions. I created a 10-part video series where I discuss the book and encourage you to dig into these videos while thinking about your own career paths. In Part 1 of the video series, I describe four reasons to explore the connections between geography and language arts, and about key moments in our education journey.