Geographic Literacy in Canada
When the Canadian Council for Geographic Education was formed in 1993, one of its objectives
was “to promote geographic literacy in Canada.”
In addition to the programs put in place by the CCGE to further geography in Canada, a
number of specific initiatives aimed at improving geographic literacy were undertaken.
CCGE 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).
The CCGE has committed to work towards this 2025 goal for geographic literacy in all 13 provinces and territories in Canada. The CCGE 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.
CCGE 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 the CCGE. 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 CCGE 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.
Did you know that a 2005 National Survey determined that one-third of
can be considered “geographically illiterate”?
Top 10 reasons to study geography…
Find out now!
“Geography is the lens for the soul of the earth. With the knowledge of geography, one can examine the earth’s past,
assess the present and predict future situations. You can literally be ‘lost’ without geography!”