The actions will be carried out through the “Geo - Inquiry” Project, promoted nearly four years ago by the National Geographic Society in the United States and Canada, which will be executed for the first time in a Latin American country.
Four communes in the Coquimbo Region were the selected students to carry out the “Geo Inquiry - Chile” project, an initiative that aims to install investigative skills and strengthen geographic education in schoolchildren in educational establishments and teachers in training. The premise is mainly to investigate a local problem and thus achieve an improvement of its environmental environment using the National Geographic Society (NGS) model.
The “Geo - Inquiry” model has been executed to date in countries mainly in North America, obtaining important results from the participating students. The research process lies mainly in the scientific method of raising a problem, collecting information, visualizing it, creating a solution and executing it, from the perspective of citizen and geographic education.
“The main purpose of 'Geo - Inquiry' is for students to learn the perspective and skills of an explorer and apply them to a local problem. As a result of this work, we hope that the next generation will have the inspiration, confidence and skills to make real and positive changes at the local, national and global levels, ”explains the geographer of the University of Northem Iowa, Dr. Alex Oberle, director of project from the NGS in the United States.
The team in Chile is led by the academic ULS, Dr. Fabián Araya, who along with Dr. Sandra Álvarez, professionals from the house studies and professors representing the communes of La Serena, Monte Patria, Río Hurtado and Paihuano, will work in five investigations that will address different topics focused on citizen education and the sustainability of the regional territory.
“The Geo-Inquiry project is a very appropriate initiative for the Coquimbo Region, because it links geographic research with the local territory and allows the identification of real problems for which students must propose relevant and feasible solutions. This methodology is at the base of the process of renewal of the pedagogical careers of the University of La Serena, because it allows the development of interest in the investigation of local and regional problems, ”said Dr. Araya, who currently directs the Unit of Integrated Management of ULS Pedagogies.
The themes of the research will be related to the use of water in a local context, wetlands and their relationship with the community, geographical literacy from citizenship education, the heritage rescue of railroad culture, and the cultural and natural heritage of Rio Hurtado
In this way, 124 will be elementary and middle school students, and 30 fourth year students of Ped's career. in History and Geography ULS, who will be in charge of investigating and raising the possible solutions to the problems established in their respective communes.
In this context, during the month of September, Dr. Oberle, together with the team of the University of La Serena, made several visits to the participating communities in order to detail the project and highlight the importance it will have for the local community.
“In Chile, USA and all the countries of the world, people would like to improve and advance in their communities at the local level, and precisely the heart of Geo - Inquiry is based on citizen training, and that every person has the ability to make positive changes in their community or neighborhood. Apart from citizen training, Geo - Inquiry imparts geographical and integration skills. This project represents a way to establish links between the NGS explorers and the teachers / students of Chile, and I am confident that the participants will achieve great results, which will allow the dissemination of the 'Geo-Inquiry' research model to other locations in Chile and other Latin American countries, ”emphasized the geographer of the NGS.
Written by Daniela Ledezma, UGIP