CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Alex Oberle, University of Northern Iowa associate professor of geography and coordinator for the Geographic Alliance of Iowa (GAI), was recently named a National Geographic Education Fellow by the National Geographic Society for the 2017-2018 academic year. Oberle received this fellowship along with four other educators because of their accomplishments and contributions in education. He is the only representative out of the group from higher education.
Oberle's geography education research centers on geospatial technologies for teaching and learning as well as internationalizing teacher education. Geospatial technology is a term used to describe the range of modern tools used to map and analyze the Earth’s environmental and human aspects. At UNI, he particularly strives to create opportunities to engage pre-service teachers in funded undergraduate research that advances geography education and greatly strengthens their career preparation. His research has been published in the Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Journal of Geography and Latin American geography journals.
This fellowship will allow him to extend his research and outreach to a national level. He will be supporting National Geographic with the implementation and training of the Geo-Inquiry Process. This will reach an estimated 50,000 middle school students in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Canada. This bold educational effort is designed to help students understand the world by examining the patterns, processes and interactions between human and natural systems. The Geo-Inquiry Process also allows students and educators to solve community issues with geographic skills. Through the impact of this fellowship, Oberle anticipates bringing the Geo-Inquiry Process back to Iowa and UNI to provide opportunities for Iowa educators, UNI pre-service teachers and UNI geography majors.
“The spirit of the National Geographic Education fellowship opportunities reflect the mission of National Geographic Education, something that resonates so well with teachers, pre-service teachers, geographers and the vision/mission of UNI: ‘We teach kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and to make it a better place,’" said Oberle.
For more information about National Geographic's commitment to education and other opportunities to get involved, visit www.nationalgeographic.org/education.