Susan Roberts

Professor of Geography and Associate Provost for Internationalization,
University of Kentucky, USA

Thinking like a geographer can help you see things differently.

This talk invites International Geography Youth Summit participants to consider what can happen if we move from a more standard “geography of basic needs” or expert-defined approach to the world, to an approach that starts with questions about who gets to define what daily needs are, and for whom?

We can learn some things from the standard way of thinking about basic needs, but it does rest on a “one-size-fits-all” idea. And, often this basic one-size-fits-all approach is simply mapped on a world political map, with countries shown to be variously meeting or not meeting the basic needs of their inhabitants.

Instead, my talk suggests that if we start thinking about needs from what we already know about ourselves and our own communities, our homes and neighborhoods, instead of from a world map, we can think about basic needs quite differently.

We may not get simple answers, but we can use our geographical imaginations to:

  1. better understand the diverse ways people go about defining and trying to meet their daily needs;
  2. see the multiple connections between our own experiences and the places we know well, and other people and places; and
  3. think about how to create a more just world.

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You can read about Dr Roberts here. (link opens in a new tab)


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