"Your Future World: Human Geography 2050"
"Your Future World" is an 11-week class for 8th-12th graders that focuses on the physical and human geography of the 10 countries that the U.N. has forecast to be the world's most populous in the year 2050. After all, that is the world in which our kids will live.
After the introductory week, students study a different country each week. We consider each country's physical geography, cultural geography, history, politics (including its relations with its neighbors), economics, and demographics. Each week, students read assigned articles, conduct research, and prepare a simple cultural assignment in advance of our in-class discussion. We conclude each week with a country-specific game to reinforce learning. "Your Future World" is similar in scope to AP Human Geography but studied through the prism of 10 specific case studies (and without the writing and 19th century models to memorize).
Prior geographic knowledge is helpful but not assumed. Excellent reading skills (high school+ level) and the ability to work cooperatively are a must. This class is at a high school+ level, with content that may touch on potentially disturbing topics (e.g., war, poverty, terrorism) and involves a fair amount of (interesting, fun!) homework weekly to support the discussion, games, and activities during our meeting time.
Subject to students' dietary restrictions, I usually provide an "international snack" each week (e.g., guava wafers from Brazil, spicy chickpeas from India, coconut cookies from Indonesia). Investigating where the week's snack is from and then sampling something that teens in another country might enjoy is generally a student favorite.