- Increased emphasis should be given to research that improves our understanding of geographic literacy, learning, and problem solving and the roles of geographic information in education and decision making, including interactive learning strategies and spatial decision support systems. This recommendation calls for a new collaboration between research support institutions such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and parties directly involved in teaching, learning, and other applications of geographical knowledge and tools. Geography's organizations—the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the American Geographical Society, the National Council for Geographic Education, and the National Geographic Society—should take the lead in fostering this collaboration and proposing strategies to enhance it.
To improve geographic literacy:
- Geography education standards and other guidelines for improved geography education in schools should be examined to identify subjects where geography's current knowledge base needs strengthening. Examples where strengthening is needed are likely to include such traditional strengths of geography as the pursuit of scientific synthesis through integration in place, addressing issues of relevance to the diversity of social and economic groups that constitute U.S. society, approaches to relating direct field observation to modern information technologies, and foreign field research. The responsibility for identifying critical gaps lies with geography's organizations.
- A significant national program should be established to improve the geographic competence of the U.S. general population, as well as leaders in business, government, and nongovernmental interest groups at all levels. A major multiyear effort is needed to assure that the knowledge, perspectives, and skills of geography as a subject are utilized effectively in meeting such national needs as competitiveness in the global economy and sustainable democratic responses to issues and choices in government, including foreign policy, environmental policy, and information infrastructure policy. This effort should be established through cooperation between the U.S. federal government, the NGS, and other geography organizations.
- Linkages should be strengthened between academic geography and users of its research. Geography's organizations should increase their interactions with private sector firms and associations, government agencies, educational institutions, nongovernmental interest groups, and appropriate funding organizations to examine ways to improve the effectiveness of information and technology transfer, to increase personal and professional linkages, and thereby to improve business and government and community decision making.
To strengthen geographic institutions:
- A high priority should be placed on increasing professional interactions between geographers and colleagues in other sciences. Geographers