In Search of the World
A Geography of Freedom
When the decade of the 1980s closed in a spectacular and unexpected burst of people's movements across the globe, demanding new beginnings and manifesting new hope, we were faced again with an old and all-too-familiar lament from the world of American education. As the names flashed on TV screens and leaped up from newspaper and magazine headlines-Beijing, Budapest, Leipzig, Berlin, Prague, Capetown, Lithuania, Azerbaijan-they testified anew to our fundamental geographic illiteracy. Apart from the large general spaces represented, for instance, by China and Eastern Europe, and the availability of terms like Communist, Iron Curtain, and apartheid, there was little that most of our students of every age and setting could say about the location, condition, or history of these places. Indeed, the more spectacular the events in such cities and nations, the more vividly they testified to the major gaps in our awareness, especially when compared to the geographical knowledge of other modern, industrialized peoples.
So in a world that is constantly being contracted and condensed by the technological marvels of our time and drawn together by a series of global-sized political, economic, and environmental challenges and crises, out students, our citizens, often seem unprepared participants. Despite the fact that we are now, more than ever before, a marvelously diverse nation of many