Geography and Consciousness
How to Create a “Global Sense of Place”
We need to appreciate and honor the human and non-human diversity of our planet.
BACK in the days when I taught world geography classes at the university, one of the concepts that I really wanted student to understand was “sense of place”.
To me, “sense of place” is what makes a place unique and special. And that, to me again, is the basis of understanding how our entire world is unique and special.
The challenge is that “sense of place” is more than what we SEE in the physical environment — such as buildings, people and street life. It is something that we FEEL about everything that we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and communicate with in our physical environment.
Definitions of ‘Sense of Place’
It was easy to teach my students about a “personal sense of place” — what makes a particular place unique and special to them as an individual. The easiest examples, for most of them, were the place or places where they grew up and knew the best.
Much harder was teaching them about a “collective sense of place” — what makes a place unique and special to larger levels of society. What makes one place stand out for those living in a neighborhood, a city, a state/province, or a country?
Our “collective sense of place” is hard because what we believe and feel about most places comes from our subconscious. Our feelings about places, other than our home, come from what we have picked up from news sources, by word of mouth, in movies and books, and from multiple other sources.
Unfortunately, these are often generalized stereotypes of the real world. And we are seldom taught or encouraged to think about our subconscious beliefs about the world we live in.
Sense of place has been variously defined as the characteristics of place that:
- Make it special or unique — this can be positive (such as places of celebration) or negative (such as…