circular plot graph of migration flows among world regions

Global Migration Flow

Human migration has been happening for aeons.  The featured image of this post is a data visualization of the global flow of people.  This circular plot shows all global bilateral migration flows for the five-year period mid-2005 to mid-2010, classified into a set of ten world regions.

It was created by Nikola Sander, Guy J. Abel & Ramon Bauer, (February 2014), and is from their article, “Quantifying Global International Migration Flows.” (Science 343, no. 6178 (March 28, 2014): 1520–22. doi:10.1126/science.1248676.)  For an incredible interactive version, go to: and play with the different time periods.

The data visualization is terrific for getting a big-picture overview of human movement around the planet.  But there’s more to migration than just movement.

How do you teach about migration?  If you’re emphasizing geography, you could use WorldView Software’s World Geography, starting with materials such as Case Study: Human Geography that talks about push and pull factors in the abstract.  You could then move on to materials such as Case Study: Human Migration: Texas that gives concrete examples of the different waves of migration into the state, why they came, and how they changed the culture and landscape.

If you’re emphasizing history, there’s a wide range of examples, from the paleolithic migrations in World History A, Chapter 1: The Beginning of Civilization through to World History B, Internet Project: The Changing Faces of Europe.  Again, you can be very abstract and big-picture in your approach, or you can try a more targeted and personalized approach that puts an individual face on the data.  A great place to get migrants’ stories is from UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (scroll down to “Refugee Voices”).

Another way to humanize the subject is to seek out and interview migrants in your community.  For pointers on how to go about such a project, check out the The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide.  You and your students could create a valuable community resource with such a record!

BulbgraphOnOffHave students in your flipped classroom complete the study questions while you’re there to assist and discuss the mini-lesson answers.

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Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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