Mapping the Nation: The Local IS Global

Mapping the Nation (Mappingthenation.net) is a new tool that allows users to see just how interconnected their individual county and state are to the rest of the world. Created as a partnership between Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and data analytics company SAS, Mapping the Nation utilizes almost one million data points to show that we are a nation built upon diversity – demographically and economically. Our future is intricately tied to that of the rest of the world.

Is there any doubt that we live in a global economy? Consider:

  • Ninety-five percent of consumers reside outside of U.S. borders.
  • Three quarters of the world’s purchasing power lies outside of U.S. borders.
  • One in five U.S. jobs is tied to international trade.

Economics is not the only realm through which we are connected to the wider world. Consider also:

  • The United States has 40 million people who are foreign born, more than any other time in our history. There is a correlating increase in languages spoken within our borders, in addition to English.
  • Latinos account for half of the national population growth in the U.S. since 2000.
  • Currently, racial and ethnic minorities represent 44% of U.S. residents under the age of 15.

What is doubtful is how well we are preparing our students to succeed in this interconnected world. Besides economic and demographic statistics, Mapping the Nation includes K-16 education statistics which show that schools have not been able to provide students with the needed knowledge and skills for success in the interconnected world. For instance:

  • Only one in five states have more than a quarter of their students learning a foreign language, and those students who do, rarely reach proficiency.
  • Of students taking AP exams, not more than 25% of those exams taken in any state are international in nature. 
  • Less than 1% of American high school students and fewer than 10% of higher education students take part in study abroad programs.

There is no doubt that all students must have access to an education that provides them with the knowledge and skills needed for success - this includes the global/cultural competence needed for life and work in these international settings.

This is the first time that these data sets have been brought together in one tool. We hope that many audiences, including those beyond education, find it to be useful in their work. 

To learn more visit http://mappingthenation.net/toolkit.html.

Heather Singmaster is the Assistant Director of Education at Asia Society.

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