Association of American Geographers AAG - My Community, My Earth
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How has my community changed over time?

Is it more sustainable? What global changes do I see impacting where I live? How do human activities locally contribute to larger scale changes on the earth?

Start to see the differences by comparing maps or images from decades ago to more recent views. Click on the set of images below to get started and navigate to your community.


See a few more examples of change using CNN's Interactive Images Gallery of Landsat comparisons.

"Global changes in climate, environment, economies, populations, governments, institutions, and cultures converge in localities. Changes at a local scale, in turn, contribute to global changes as well as being affected by them. As a result, across a broad range of disciplines and problems, linking the local and the global scales – integrating assessments of population, economy, technology, and environmental change – potentially yields deeper understandings of global change in all its complexity."
⇒ Read more from Wilbanks and Kates

What are some local factors that contribute to global change? How and why do these factors change over time? Where are strongest impacts seen? How are they different in different places? How might the effects be controlled and mitigated locally?
⇒ Read more about Global Change in Local Places

⇒ Use these Teaching / Learning Resources on Global Climate Change

Why start with a question?

A question is a tool a for generating knowledge. Inquiry is the beginning step of any scientific method, including the MyCOE approach. Questions start with words like Where? What? When? How? Why? Who?

Good questions are those that are:

Specific.  Sometimes you need to explore the problem before you can refine your question.

Clear. Know what you want to know when you ask your question.

Open-ended.  Beyond asking a question that leads to a simple Yes or No answer, seek out questions that provoke thinking and discussion.

Relevant. If you can relate the question to your own life in some way, or be inspired by the things that are happening around you, your answers will be richer and more meaningful to you and others.

 Read more about the benefits of inquiry-based learning 

What should I ask about?

Take a look at other maps and geographic data on MyCOE's ArcGIS Online Homepage.

Thumb through our directory of recommended resources on sustainable development topics

Read a local newspaper and ask yourself, “How does what goes on in your own community relate to what is going on in the world broadly?”

Listen to the world news  and ask yourself, “How does what is happening there affect me and my community and its future?”

Browse through some of the youth-led projects that others have conducted in our gallery

Explore the chapters on MyCOE themes from our MyCOE Student Project Guide

How should I compose my question?

There are many different types of questions depending on your purpose. Here are a few of the kinds of deeper questions that you can adapt for your project:

  • Analyzers
: What parts or features make up the whole and what does each part do?
 How do the parts contribute to the whole?
 How is this organized and why is it organized this way?
 What are the most important features of this?
  • Comparatives
: How is this the same as that? 
How is this different than that?
 How are these more or less similar? 
What is the opposite of this?
  • Causals
: What factors caused this to happen?
 Which of these factors is sufficient? Which contributing? Which probable? 
On what grounds can we eliminate possible causes or explanations?
  • Counterfactuals: 
How would this change if X happened?
 How would things be different if X had not happened? 
How would things be different if X happened to a greater (or lesser) degree?

  • Extenders: How can we apply this to that set of circumstances?
 What can we predict because of this? What ideas can be added to this?
 What might happen if you added this to that?

Adapted from Snyder's Good Questions.


Example Questions on MyCOE Rio+20 Themes

Climate Change

How do human activities in my community accelerate or mitigate climate change? How are carbon footprints different in different places on the earth? How can carbon footprints be reduced? What effects of a changing global climate is my community expected to experience? How would rising coastlines affect my community? What kind(s) of energy does your community use? Where does it come from?

Learn more

Green Economy

What types of economic activities contribute to a greener economy, such as alternative energy sources, recycling, public transit, etc.? Where are these activities in my local community, state, province, or country? What products are commonly used by your family or school? Where are they produced? How did they get to you? What natural resources were needed to make this item and what places did they come from? Are these processes sustainable? What current efforts exist in your community to make it “greener”? What else could help your communities become “greener”? How does it matter that the economic activities differ by place? What differences exist in your community or country by income levels among the people who live there? 

Learn more

Food Security

Where does your food come from? What percentage of foods you eat are grown locally? What does this mean in terms of food security? How are the foods you eat prepared, how are they stored (i.e. refrigeration) or cooked (gas, electricity, wood)? Where do these appliances come from? What energy sources or natural resources are necessary for food preparation? Are these processes sustainable? Where do you get drinking water from? How does it reach you? How secure is your food and water supply in case of a disruption or disaster?

Learn more

Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability

What was the most recent natural disaster that happened closest to your community? Do you know of another event that was similar but happened somewhere else? What hazards are you subject to (based on the geography of the area where you live)? For example, is flooding a threat to your community? Wildfires? Earthquakes? Landslides? Tornadoes? How does your community prepare for these events? How did your community respond during its most recent disaster? How have you personally been affected by disaster? Has your community adapted to these hazards? What steps do you feel your community should take to be more prepared in the future for these hazards?

Learn more

Find additional online materials linked from MyCOE's summary on Sustainable Development.

Have a MyCOE related question? Please see our FAQ page.