Matt Sparke


Help Humanosphere help you find a story – on ChangeMap | 

Flickr, M4D Group

Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of shuffling through a list of headlines or doing a search online to find a story about your organization’s work overseas in global health, poverty reduction or social justice you could just click on a map? Wouldn’t it be great if you could contact those living in the communities receiving aid to ask if it is actually helping make things better?

Yes, it would.

And that just happens to be what University of Washington geography and global health professor Matt Sparke has in mind.

Sparke, working with some of his highly intelligent students and colleagues (as well as the not-quite-so-intelligent-but-enthusiastic journalists here at Humanosphere), hopes to create an interactive online tool dubbed ChangeMap.

And here’s how you can help fund this experiment, courtesy of the new online crowdsource funding site Microryza. Here’s a bit more on Microryza from John Cook at Geekwire.

ChangeMap, in brief, will be an online interactive map published on Humanosphere but available to anyone interested in global health, aid, development and global justice to locate these initiatives. In addition, it will allow users to engage in dialogue with those working to make the world a better place — as well as those living in those places we seek to better.

Continue reading

How the ‘Battle in Seattle’ led to a global health epicenter | 

Tom Paulson

Global health geographer Matt Sparke

How did Seattle get to be a world epicenter for global health?

Most people would say that it’s due to the simple fact that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s biggest philanthropy with an endowment the size of a middle-income country, happens to be located here and has made fighting diseases of poverty its primary mission.

True, but Matt Sparke would say it’s a bit more complicated than that. To some extent, he says it’s also a reaction to some violent street protests the world knew as the Battle in Seattle.

Sparke is a geographer and professor of international studies at the University of Washington and also director of the new UW global health undergraduate minor.

As a co-author of a fascinating new book called Seattle Geographies, he’s been studying how Seattle has been altered by assuming a leadership role in global health — and, in turn, how this has worked to put a happy face on a word that once sparked (sorry Matt) world-class rioting in the streets here.


Flickr, djbones

WTO Seattle protests

In 1999, Seattle gained worldwide attention when the World Trade Organization (WTO) came to town. Protesters converged on the meeting to argue that “globalization” as conceived by the WTO, World Bank and others served corporate interests at the expense of poor farmers, labor laws and the environment (to name a few).

See the movie Battle in Seattle if your memory doesn’t serve.

So what do the WTO riots and globalization have to do with global health? 

“Lots,” said Sparke, who noted that geographers do much more than make maps. He studies human geography — the study of how people shape, and are shaped by, place.

And Seattle is a very outward-looking, globalized place. Always has been. Washington was the first state to normalize trade relations with China. We’ve always depended heavily upon international trade. Microsoft, Starbucks and are just a few examples of our entrepreneurial track record. On the humanitarian side of things, we put out more Peace Corps volunteers per capita than any other region. Continue reading