United but not one-sided

17th November 1995 at 00:00
GLOBAL ISSUES OF OUR TIME Edited by John Lidstone Cambridge University Press Pounds 12.95. - 0521 42163 2 Age range 16-plus

This book has its origins in a meeting of geography teachers and lecturers at the International Geographical Union Conference on Geographical Education. Concerned that media sources often give a one-sided view of life, they agreed to write their own book about the ways their countries have been affected by global issues, emphasising positive action to find solutions.

With contributions from 20 authors from around the world, the result is an authoritative and interesting collection of global case studies suitable for post-16 students. Eighteen different countries are represented.

The opening chapter provides evidence of changes in disease control, life expectancy and other indicators which point to improvements in social conditions. These are set against a survey of the factors which restrict attempts to achieve sustainable lifestyles.

Case studies from different countries prompt students to compare the experiences of contrasting societies.

Each chapter addresses a global issue in a particular geographical setting such as the development of Amazonia, population growth in China, urbanisation in Bangladesh, soil degradation in Australia and acid rain in Finland. Other concerns include energy resources, dam construction and transport problems.

Students are given information on the international aspects of these issues and the measures taken to address them. Policies and the problems of achieving results are clearly explored in most of the studies.

The authors are aware of the danger of asking students to make generalisations and analyse complex relationships on a weak information base. Although one or two of the chapters are rather brief, most of the studies are balanced and contain sufficient evidence, often in map or diagram form, to encourage student discussion. Clearly headed sections with highlighted sets of questions also promote continuity.

Global Issues Of Our Time ranges widely, both geographically and in terms of the topics covered. It surveys the geographical complexities of global issues, providing up-to-date evidence on which to base discussion and analysis, avoiding the simplistic interpretations frequently encountered in media sources.

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