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SCALES PowerPoint Presentation

SCALES

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SCALES

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  1. Bridging the gap between the Geographies Brien Durham Bogle Junior High Introduction SCALES Conclusions System Dynamics "Not only is the world stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine" (Sir Arthur Eddington)* From the earliest years well through college, we are taught and perceive two separate geographies; one pertaining to physical realms and the other to human realms. Even the 5 themes classify places according to physical and human characteristics and though there are certainly regions in each geography that distinguish it from the other, a failure to bridge the gap between them has lead to many of the problems plaguing our planet today. From global climate change and loss of biodiversity to disease and human sustainability never before has the necessity of operating within both geographies been more obvious or urgent. If students are to be able to function with in both fields and thereby generate solutions to these inseparably physical and human problems, they will need to be adept at understanding and using scales, hierarchies, and system dynamics. Scales come in four forms spatial, temporal, quantitative, or analytical dimensions. Combing scales with time and space as in the graph below permits students to add human events or effects on human communities. Both physical and human geography are composed of complex systems that exhibit behaviors and processes unpredicted by the sum of their parts. Initial conditions, bifurcations points, strange attractors, feedback loops are all concepts that can be found in complex physical and human systems and account at least in part for the difficulty humans have in operating within them. Actor-Network Theory maintains that we are all lodged within various networks composed of human and non-human actors and as such we are inextricably intertwined into complex systems that require new perspectives to confront the problems of our planet. Scales, hierarchies, and system dynamics offer tools to bridge the gap between physical and human geography in a way which fosters those perspectives. The chart below is an example of how plots in Language Arts and Social Studies can be drawn and manipulated by placing values on those elements that pertain to meaning, motivation, and intention and thereby alter the outcome of events. Regardless of the historical period being explored, there exists in each multiple causes and effects at different scales, levels, and resolutions. If students in middle school begin exploring and playing with these causes altering the value of certain elements and considering their effects, retention is likely to be increased and the stage set for more complexity exploration in high school in the form of computer modeling. Inclusive Hierarchies Groups of objects or processes that are ranked as lower in a hierarchy are contained in or subdivisions of groups that are ranked as higher in the system Spatial scales can be linked to process and again students can add effects or human events within those scales. • Important considerations for complex systems • Simple systems are easy to understand and manipulate, complex systems posses a number of characteristics that must be identified in order to operate effectively within them. • In simple systems cause/effect relationships are closely related in time and space, while in complex systems causes can be “hidden or concealed.” • In simple systems achieving a goal or outcome is fairly evident, while in complex systems there are “almost always trade-offs between short and long term goals.” • In simple systems goals and outcomes are more easily sustained, while in complex systems goals can more easily decay during system operation. • Finally in simple systems what is required to achieve a goal or outcome is fairly evident, while in more complex systems an increasing number of actions have little or no measurable effect. Exclusive Hierarchies Groups of objects or processes that are ranked as lower in the hierarchy are not contained in or subdivisions of groups that are ranked higher in the system Figure #1 Key References • Comfort, Louise K. 1994. Journal of Public Administration and Theory. Self-Organization in Complex Systems 4 (3) pp 393-410 • Forrester, Jay W. (1996) System Dynamics and K-12 Teachers [Whitepaper]. Retrieved from MIT Sloan Management Website: http://scripts.mit.edu/~sdg/Publications.html • Gibson, Clark A, Ostrom, Elinor, and Ahn, T.K. 2000. Ecological Analysis. The concept of scale and the human dimensions of global change: a survey 32 (2000): pp 217-239 • Massey, Doreen. 1999 Space-time, ‘science’ and the relationship between physical geography and human geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 24: 261-276 Constitutive Hierarchy Groups of objects or processes are combined into new units that are then combined into still new units with their own functions and emergent properties It is important for students to be taught that patterns observed at one scale may disappear at another scale or level. Levels are units of analysis that are located at the same position on a scale. There are countless ways for students to represent complex systems and their effects as indicated by the diagram to the left.