April Luginbuhl Mather, PhD, is a freelance environmental geographer and adjunct professor. She has a wide range of interests that consistently connect a passion for geographic literacy and education with sustainability topics using political economic and political ecology frameworks. Drawing from critical pedagogy practices, Luginbuhl teaches courses using the conceptual tools of geography to explore environmental issues at all scales. These pedagogical approaches are foundational to her approach to online and hybrid teaching. They inform her work as a consultant and writer. View her recent freelance work on the Crash Course Geography YouTube channel.
Reports from agencies like the Government Accountability Office have highlighted a decrease in formal geographic literacy among United States K-12 students. The decline leaves informal geographic education as a major pathway to capture the public's geographic imagination. Storytelling serves as a powerful, informal way to engage people of all ages with abstract concepts of geographic literacy in news, social media, video and documentaries, or through co-generation geographic knowledge. Luginbuhl will compare the outcomes of work that speaks to the public with projects that are public collaborations, emphasizing the different roles each plays in activating geographic engagement. While public scholarship may be commonly thought of as a top-down, in person-to-person flow of information, there is a parallel movement of commons-based peer production of knowledge in which community members educate each other through collaboration. In this virtual presentation, she will examine outcomes of relevant "open" projects like OpenStreetMap, OpenDroneMap, as well as groups like Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. These examples will serve as an entry point to imagine how public engagement with geography might work to increase geographic literacy outside of academia.
Luginbuhl's research interests include the unexpected partnerships that can form through economic systems intereacting with ecological processes, such as US farmers working with carbon markets or energy co-ops as part of their economic strategy for funding soil stewardship activities. Most recently, her interests include sustainable agriculture and food access, the impact of commons-based production of data on sustainability efforts and the potential of open educational resources for geographic education at all levels.