National Council for Geographic Education

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National Council for Geographic Education
Logo of the National Council for Geographic Education
Abbreviation NCGE
Formation 1915
Founder George J Miller
Type Nonprofit Organization,scientific and educational society
Legal status 501(c)(3)Nonprofit Organization
Headquarters Washington DC
Michael N. DeMers
Eric J. Fournier
Zachary R. Dulli
Jacqueline L. Waite
Formerly called
National Council for Geography Teachers

The National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) is a non-profit scientific and educational society, chartered in 1915 to enhance the status and quality of geography teaching and learning. NCGE supports geography education at all levels— through formal and informal education, in primary education, secondary education, community college, and university settings. NCGE promotes and supports geography teaching, enhances the preparation of geography education with respect to knowledge of content, techniques, and learning processes, facilitates communication and professional development among teachers of geography, encourages and supports research on geography education, develops, publishes, and promotes the use of exemplary curricular resources and other learning materials, recognizes exceptional instructors of geography, and collaborates with other organizations that have similar goals.

Members of NCGE include U.S. and International teachers, professors, students, curriculum developers, policymakers, administrators, professional geographers and others who support geography education. These members work in schools, community colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, local, state, tribal, national, and international government agencies, and in private industry.[1]


The National Council for Geographic Education was started by George J Miller, of the State Normal School in Mankato, Minnesota, to fill a gap in the field of geographic education. The idea gained support nationally and the first meeting of the organization was held on December 31, 1915.

Originally called the National Council for Geography Teachers (NCGT), the purpose was to "increase the effectiveness of geography teaching in America; (a) by promotion of national education movements; (b) by cooperating in the organization and development of state associations; and (c) in such other ways as the officers may from time to time determine.” While NCGE is no longer organized as it was originally, the basic purpose has not changed. In 1956, the NCGT changed their name to the National Council for Geographic Education to reflect the idea that not all education concerns occur in the classroom. [2]


NCGE is governed by an elected Board of Directors that includes committees on administration, curriculum and instruction, external relations, finance, publications & products, and research. In addition, task forces and working groups are set up by members to work on short term projects.

A professional staff, based in NCGE’s Washington DC headquarters runs the day-to-day operations of the council and serves under the leadership of the elected officers.[3]

Annual Conference[edit]

NCGE holds an annual conference every summer, called the National Conference on Geography Education. This annual event offers hands-on workshops in new teaching methods, technologies, resources, as well as research papers, networking opportunities, field trips and more. Conference field trips include local and regional places of geographic and historical significance. An exhibit hall is staffed by government, industry, nonprofit, and academic organizations and offers the latest in books, journals, projects, curriculum, software, hardware, and more to support geography teaching. Each conference is highlighted by an annual keynote address. Past keynote speakers have included:

From 1915 to the late 1970s the NCGE conference was held in a few select US cities. In 1979 the conference began rotating its location to a new North American city each year. Since 1979 the NCGE conference has been held in the following locations: Mexico City, Mexico (1979); Des Moines, IA (1980); Pittsburgh, PA (1981); San Diego, CA (1982); Ocho Rios, Jamaica (1983); Toronto, Canada (1984); Breckenridge, CO (1985); Chicago, IL (1986); Springfield, MI (1987); Snowbird, UT (1988); Hershey, PA (1989); Williamsburg, VA (1990); St.Paul, MN (1991); Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1992); Halifax, Nova Scotia (1993); Lexington, KY (1994); San Antonio, TX (1995); Santa Barbara, CA (1996); Orlando, FL (1997); Indianapolis, IN (1998); Boston, MA (1999); Chicago, IL (2000); Vancouver, Canada (2001); Philadelphia, PA (2002); Salt Lake City, UT (2003); Kansas City, MO (2004); Birmingham, AL (2005); Lake Tahoe, NV (2006); Oklahoma City, OK (2007); Dearborn, MI (2008); San Juan, Puerto Rico (2009); Savannah, GA (2010); Portland, OR (2011); San Marcos, TX (2012); Denver, CO (2013);Memphis, TN (2014); Washington DC (2015); Tampa, FL (2016); Albuquerque, NM (2017)


The NCGE as an organization actively partners with other organizations, including the Association of American Geographers, The National Council for the Social Studies, and other organizations. Its members are active in the National Science Teachers Association, the North American Association for Environmental Education, the Geographical Association, and in other organizations. Many of its members are also active with the education program of the National Geographic Society and with the National Science Foundation. Some members are active in working with the U.S. Congress on bills and policy that strengthen geography education at all levels, most notably the "Teaching Geography Is Fundamental (TGIF)" Act.


The NCGE's weekly email newsletter is published each week. Its contents include geography education news, events, opportunities, and resources.

The NCGE's journals include "Journal of Geography" and "The Geography Teacher." The Journal has been published for nearly a century, beginning with a different name, while The Geography Teacher began in 2000. The Journal of Geography focuses on research in geography education. It is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal designed for educators, offering the best in teaching and research advancements in geographic education. JOG publishes research on innovative approaches to teaching and learning, classroom tested lesson ideas, curriculum, book reviews, and more.

The Geography Teacher's focus is on illustrating how geography can be taught in the classroom, through short articles, lesson plans, teaching tips, and news especially relevant for today’s primary, secondary, and pre-service teachers.

Taylor and Francis is the publisher of these journals.

National Geography Standards[edit]

NCGE partnered with the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, and the American Geographical Society during the 1990s to create the national standards for geography, entitled "Geography for Life" (1994). The content standards what students at specific educational levels should know and be expected to do by grades 4, 8, and 12. The National Standards in Geography are organized into 18 standards under 6 "essential elements." They represent the essentials and fundamental ideas of geography. The 6 essential elements include: (1) The world in spatial terms, (2) Places and regions, (3) Physical systems, (4) Human systems, (5) Environment and society, and (6) The uses of geography. The goal of a sound standards-based geography education is a geographically informed person who sees meaning in the arrangement of things across the Earth's surface; who appreciates the relationships between people, places, and environments; who uses geographic skills; and who applies geographic perspectives to life situations.

NCGE played a key role in revising and updating the national standards during the period 2008 to 2012, culminating in the publication of the updated geography standards in September 2012. The revised edition features restructured content and a new format. Revised content captures the growth and importance of geospatial technologies and spatial thinking in geography over the last 18 years. Each standard is presented through four components: an introductory essay; knowledge statements; performance statements and examples. Knowledge statements and performance statements are broken down by grade band (grades 4, 8 and 12).

Other Projects[edit]

NCGE members created the Geography Map, a body of skills and exemplary activities, as part of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Members of the NCGE also work closely on joint publications, joint participation in conferences, and in research and curriculum development with other organizations, most notably the Geographical Association, the Association of American Geographers, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the North American Association for Environmental Education. The NCGE is also involved with an effort called the "Roadmap" project, funded by National Science Foundation to National Geographic, with a goal to create key documents that define what geographic literacy is and why it is important to education and society.

NCGE also holds a webinar series that is open to all and free to members. Topics include teaching with web-based Geographic Information Systems, teaching about the Erie Canal using digital maps, imagery, and geographic inquiry, place-based learning, field work techniques, methods of teaching Advanced Placement Human Geography (APHG), and more. These webinars are conducted by the experts in the respective topics and offer live training as well as the ability to watch the webinar recordings that have been archived. Sign up for these webinars via the NCGE at


List of NCGE Presidents since 1915. [4]


Further Reading[edit]

  • Bednarz, Sarah W. 2000. Geography Education Research in the Journal of Geography 1988-1997. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education 9(2): 128-140.
  • Dougherty, Percy H. 1984. National Council for Geographic Education. The Professional Geographer 36(2): 242.
  • LeVasseur, Michal L. 1999. Students' knowledge of geography and geography careers. Journal of Geography 98(6): 265-271.

Nellis, M. Duane. 1995. Geography for life: Today's innovations are tomorrow's traditions. Journal of Geography 94(1): 302-304.

External links[edit]