Burnsville School District and MAGE Steering Committee
Minnesota State High School Human Geography Standard 4
The student will explain how the regionalization of space into political units affects human behavior.
Benchmark 2: Students will provide examples of the impact of political boundaries on human behavior and economic activities.
High school students today are under the impression that Europe has had constant political borders throughout history. Most of them were born at the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. When you ask them their impressions of Europe, it is not uncommon to get a response similar to “they are just like us”.
Using the historical maps of Europe that are provided with this lesson, students will begin to see how the political boundaries of Europe have changed over time. They will also begin to explore and understand reasons for why these changes occurred. Using the idea of devolution they should be able to begin to understand the current political boundaries of Europe and hypothesize about how these boundaries may change or remain the same in the future.
Devolution: Process by which regions in a state demand and gain political strength and more autonomy. The power of the central government is weakened.
Spatial, Socioethnic, Economic
State: Has a defined territory, permanent population and government and is recognized by other states. (Country)
Nation: Group of people with a shared culture and history
Centrifugal forces: ideas, event, etc. that divide a group of people
Centripetal forces: ideas, events, etc. that unite a group of people
Using the power point presentation provided on Europe’s changing political boundaries over time, project the political maps of Europe from 1000 to today. As you show these maps, ask students to write down the relative size of the political units for each year. After two or three maps, ask students to compare the sizes and shapes of the states with regard to how they stayed the same or changed. Ask students why these patterns would occur.
Have students compare more recent maps with each other in order to see how European boundaries have changed since WWI to the current boundaries.
The worksheet that is included is designed to help students see the changes and the general patterns of change over time.
Once students have completed the map analysis exercise, introduce a map of the European Union.
Ask students to discuss how the European Union may affect future political boundaries. Do you think states will get larger as the EU continues to grow? Do you think states will become smaller and perhaps create more nation – states in Europe?
Students will need to be able to defend their opinions with facts and data.
In this lesson students will take part in a role play exercise. Divide students into groups that represent the new countries of the former state of Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Kossovo) as well as groups that represent Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, etc. The number of groups will depend on the size of your class. Having groups of 3 for this would be best.
Each group will determine how viable their state is. They will need to research data such as natural resources, GNP, exports, imports, alliances, population data, ethnic make up, etc.
Students will also need to be able to explain their role in the EU, if they are a current member, or decide if they would they want to become a member. If so, what are the chances they would be accepted? If not, why not?
Who would their Allies would be? Why?
What states they may have conflicts with? Why?
Could this divide Europe/the EU by ethnic lines?
Could nationalism become a reason for future conflict?
If students decide their state is not viable, then they need to decide what state they would join and if this would be a partnership or if they would just become part of that state.