At its foundation, “literacy” is about communication. For most people, reading and writing are enough — but not for Lynn Moorman (above). A professor of earth sciences and general education at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and a Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), she has dedicated herself to extending this concept into the realm of geography.
Moorman loosely defines geo-literacy as the ability to take in geographical information, such as satellite imagery and maps, critically analyze and make meaning of it and then base decisions on the newly formed knowledge.
While completing her B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Calgary in 1989 and 1991, respectively, she remembers being struck by the significance of these geographic concepts. “It was so relevant to everyday existence,” she says. “It just seemed too important to not understand.”
A Canadian Geographic Education exceutive since 2009 and an RCGS Fellow since 2011, Moorman is working with CG Education to develop a national strategy for geographic literacy. Even before pursuing her Ph.D. and becoming a professor, however, Moorman was interested in education. In 1995-96, she was involved in the creation of Earth Observation, a course on interpreting geographic data, which was then integrated into Ontario’s grade-nine curriculum. Once the program was developed, she was responsible for teaching it to teachers, an experience in geographic education that helped determine her career path.
After completing her Ph.D., Moorman plans to keep teaching at Mount Royal while further developing the geo-literacy strategy, which she believes has the potential to have a large effect on education.
“The importance of our strategy is not only in enhancing geographic education but in building Canadians’ capacity to think and reason geographically and to make the best decisions possible about our environment, resources and populace.”