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May 2002 - Issue No. #46 (p.11)

Population Studies on the Web

by Katharine Isbell

Miyazaki International College, Japan

In 2001, my partner and I offered a web-based college English course on Information Technology and Environmental Issues with a 6-week unit on world population. This complex topic encompasses issues such as reproductive health, women's status, pollution and consumerism. In this article, I'd like to introduce the websites we used pus sites found by students for their final assignment to research population issues on the Web.

PBS: Six Billion and Beyond
[Note: this website is no longer operating]

We introduced the topic by using the well-organized and informative Public Broadcasting Service site, Six Billion and Beyond. The site lends itself nicely to cooperative group activities since it presents similar information on population issues in six countries around the world: China, India, Italy, Kenya Mexico and the U.S. The site also offers a graphic demonstration of the rate of population growth: active counters show the current total world population and "babies born since you entered this site."

Population Action International

Population Action International (PAI) is a non-profit organization aimed at creating programs and policies that slow population growth. It focuses on reproductive health issues and improving educational and economic conditions for women. Since it is a political activist organization, younger students may have difficulty with the level of language used; however, teachers will find its publications and research section useful. While PAI's advocacy views many not be compatible with those of the students and teachers in conservative or parochial educational settings, this is a good site for learning more about the politics of population issues.

Population Reference Bureau


The Population Reference Bureau strives to be a provider of information on U.S. and international population trends and as such produces many publications that might be of use to educators. Although many of the publications must be purchased, there are still plenty of free facts and statistics that can be found throughout this searchable site. There is also a special educators' forum in which teachers can find lesson plans and resource guides on population issues. Overall, this is a very useful site for students and teachers alike.

One World Net

http:/ is not a site dedicated to population issues per se. Sponsored by the OneWorld Foundation, it claims to be a global Internet community of almost 1,000 partners and is dedicated to presenting differing perspectives on global issues - especially sustainable development and human rights - that are not necessarily covered in mainstream media.

News items and reports from a wide range of sources are published in several different languages. The main page also links to what are referred to as channels, or portal sites. Of special interest to students and teachers are the One World Kids Channel and the

I was very impressed with the sophisticated search function at the OneWorld site. A quick keyword search on population turned up over one million hits, but I was able to refine my search in a number of ways. For example, I could specify how current I wanted the information to be and in what language. I could also search the keyword within defined topics areas such as AIDS, climate change, or tourism, to name a few. All in all, I found this a very intriguing site that I want to bookmark and return to.

While certain topics such as family planning and reproductive rights might be controversial to study in the classroom, the impact of a growing world population is hard to ignore. As educators, we need to introduce our students to the fundamental aspects of this complex and pressing issue.

I hope you find these sites helpful. Remember, sometimes websites move or disappear. All URLs mentioned were active at press time.

Ms. Isbell taught English at Miyazaki International College (MIC) for several years. She has now left Japan and is currently in Texas

Katharine Isbell. E-mail:


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