International Teachers Go Genographic

Who are we? And where do we come from? The story of humanity’s journey can be found within each of us—encoded in our DNA. In 2005, National Geographic and IBM, with support from the Waitt Family Foundation, launched the Genographic Project, which aims to provide the first true ‘snapshot’ picture of how each of us moved out of Africa and around the globe 60,000 years ago.

With over a quarter of a million people already taking part, the project is gathering and analyzing the world’s largest collection of anthropological DNA samples in the hope it will capture this information before modern-day influences erase it forever.

Spencer Wells discusses GenoThreads with European International School teachers. Photo by Glynnis Breen/NGS


All Around the World

View of Lisbon from Bairro Alto. By Colby Bishop/NGS

This week Genographic Project team members, including Project Director and NG Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells, are working with teachers at the European Council for International Schools Conference in Lisbon, Portugal to integrate the Genographic Project’s educational initiative, GenoThreads into their classrooms.

GenoThreads bridges disciplines to connect students around the world through their shared genetic history. From biology to history to math, teachers  around the world can use the free lesson plans within their current curriculums to create a cultural conversation among their students to give them a better understanding of who they are in the world. As one teacher from Rome put it, “I think Genographic will allow me to teach the basics of science and DNA in the classroom, while also giving them a larger cultural connection.”

Exploring that larger cultural connection behind DNA data is exactly what the Genographic Project is about. Explore more for yourself with the Genographic Genetics Overview and Atlas of the Human Journey.


Changing Planet

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Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.