UNI associate professor Alex Oberle is committed to geography education. In fact, this commitment was recognized when Oberle was selected as one of only four individuals, and the only individual from a higher education institution, to be named as a National Geographic Education Fellow by the National Geographic Society for the 2017-2018 academic year.
At UNI, Oberle strives to create opportunities to engage our students who are studying to become teachers in undergraduate research that advances geography education and greatly strengthens their career preparation. “My role at the University of Northern Iowa focuses squarely on fostering student success,” said Oberle.
In addition to his work with UNI students, Oberle serves as coordinator of the Geographic Alliance of Iowa (GAI) housed at UNI. The GAI provides resources and expertise to improve the geographic literacy of Iowa students, with a particular focus on K-12 education.
The GAI is also the only organization in Iowa to provide regular, credit-bearing social studies professional development for our state's K-12 educators.
Last year, the GAI provided professional development for more than 100 Iowa K-12 educators, with most of them enrolled in GAI workshops that carry UNI graduate credit. In addition to professional development opportunities, the GAI also offers a clearinghouse of accessible, high quality, standards-based curricular materials.
The National Geographic Education Fellowship will allow Oberle to extend his research and outreach to a national level. 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.