Department of Geography and the Environment

GRG 301C • The Natural Environment

36405-36445 • Pérez, Francisco L.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAI 3.02
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Geomorphic processes that shape the earth's surface; origin and evolution of landforms. Groundwater and water resources. Pedogenesis and soil properties. 

Designed to accommodate 100 or more students.

A one-day field trip to be arranged.

GRG 301K • Weather And Climate

36450 • Kimmel Jr., Troy M.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm JES A121A
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Course Description

An introductory look at weather and climate, this course will include a thorough discussion of atmospheric processes, clouds, precipitation (types), air masses, frontal boundaries, introductory discussions of severe local storms (and their offspring) and tropical cyclones as well as the climatology of these weather systems. Also included will be a brief introduction to the Koppen Climatic Classification System along with discussions of climatological processes, regimes, and climate change.


GRG 304E • Envir Sci: A Changing World

36455-36465 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CLA 0.112
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Surveys the major global environmental concerns affecting the Earth and its residents from the perspectives of the environmental sciences. 

May be counted toward the writing flag requirement. May be counted toward the quantitative reasoning flag requirement.

Restricted to students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program.

GRG 304E • Envir Sci: Changing World-Hon

36470 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CLA 0.112
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Surveys the major global environmental concerns affecting the Earth and its residents from the perspectives of the environmental sciences. 

May be counted toward the writing flag requirement. May be counted toward the quantitative reasoning flag requirement.

Restricted to students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program.

GRG 305 • This Human World: Intro To Grg

36475-36530 • Heyman, Rich
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm JES A121A
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Course Description

This course focuses on learning why things are where they are and the processes that underlie spatial patterns. These processes are fundamentally cultural: they involve a complex mix of folk culture, popular culture, communication, religion, demography, industry and urbanization, so the course touches on all of these topics. The course also looks at the indications of human-induced environmental changes, including pollution, resource depletion, and the transformation of ecosystems. It concludes with an introduction to the range of career opportunities for people with training in geography.

Grading Policy

Final grades will be based on a combination of three exams (worth approximately 45% of the total grade), three projects (worth approximately 25% of the total grade) and participation (worth approximately 30% of the total grade).

GRG 319 • Geography Of Latin America

36535 • Knapp, Gregory W.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 0.128
(also listed as LAS 319)
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This course is a general introduction to the environmental, cultural, economic and political geography of Latin America and the Caribbean. There are no prerequisites, and an effort is made to make the material accessible to the broadest possible range of students, as citizens and future leaders. At the same time, more advanced students can also benefit from the exploration of such topics as environmental hazards, indigenous life ways and resource management, globalization and modernization, population and migration, cities, sustainable development, geopolitics, frontiers, conservation, and cultural survival. The course examines major environmental zones as defined by geomorphology, climate, and biogeography, in terms of risks and hazards, resources, and human impacts. Students also study social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods, social structures, and cultures, including early migrants to the Americas, the rise of chiefdoms and indigenous civilizations including Aztec and Inca, the European conquest and spread of Iberian colonial culture and economic relationships, and the inception and spread of modernization as related to neoliberal and alternative forms of development including indigenous discourses of sustainability in contemporary Latin America. A range of environmental and social science theories and methods are discussed, including plate tectonics, basic climate models, hazards research, circumscription theory, and theories of modernization, dependency, and development. Communication skills are developed through graphical and essay questions on quizzes and exams, the written course project, and discussion in lectures and optional discussion sections.

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GRG 323K • S Amer: Nat/Socty/Sust-Ecu

36540 • Knapp, Gregory W.
(also listed as LAS 330)
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This Maymester course is conducted in Ecuador, June 1-July 1, 2016. Ecuador is a small country with outstanding environmental and cultural diversity, and is a perfect location for the study of environmental and social change and sustainability. Coastal mangrove wetlands, mountain valleys and peaks and Amazonian lowland forests are home to diverse indigenous peoples and immigrants. The recent Constitution of Ecuador enshrines respect for environmental and cultural diversity as essential for a sustainable buen vivir. This Maymester uses Ecuador as a classroom, maximizing student experiences of a wide range of urban, rural and wild landscapes where students gain insight into current debates about environmental change, agriculture and development.

Interested students should apply at the Study Abroad website by November 1, 2015. Students admitted to the program will be registered for the course.

More details:



GRG 331K • Nature, Society, & Adaptatn

36550 • Knapp, Gregory W.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 2.606
(also listed as ANT 324L)
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This course examines the long-term human trajectory in gaining control over resources, impacting the environment, and transforming planet earth into a meaningful human home. This trajectory has been related to long-term changes in human integration (reciprocity, trade, and redistribution) at a variety of scales, culminating in recent globalization. These changes have been associated with great achievements in quality of life for some, but with attendant problems of violence, impoverishment, and environmental impacts including, in some extreme cases, collapse. These challenges implicate both culture (learned habitual behavior, concepts, and associated objects and landscapes) and ethics (socially oriented decisions) as they promote or fail to promote resilience and adaptation with respect for human rights.

 The course will discuss major transformations: the origins of the human species, the domestication of plants and animals, the rise of agricultural societies and urban civilizations, global mercantile colonialism, and modernization and urbanization. Attention will be paid to the theories and works of geographers, ecological anthropologists, environmental historians, and others. Lectures and student-proctored discussions examine selected strategies employed by humans to cope with the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by different natural environments, with special attention to foraging, food, and farming. The course will also provide an introduction to ethical and policy issues surrounding sustainable development and alternative futures. Grading is based on attendance and participation, numerous writing assignments, oral presentations, and proctoring.


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GRG 333C • Severe And Unusual Weather

36555 • Kimmel Jr., Troy M.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WEL 2.256
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The course examines the principles and techniques of atmospheric science and the applications to the study of severe and unusual weather events and patterns. This course will include a thorough examination (often in real time through the use of the internet) of thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods, hailstorms, winter storms, tropical cyclones as well as drought. In addition to study of the events themselves, a look at the climatology of severe and unusual weather across the United States, Texas as well as our own south central Texas region will be undertaken. How these atmospheric events affect human beings and how people respond to these events will also be examined.

Grading Policy

400 points possible during the semester:
Three Regular Exams (100 points each)
Attendance / Homework / Exercises (100 points total)
Attendance Taken On A Daily Basis and Used in Final Computation of Grade

GRG 333K • Climate Change

36560 • Young, Kenneth R.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 3.102
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Course Description:

This course will survey the causes of changes in climatic systems over both short and long time periods and their consequences for landscape dynamics, biogeography, land use, sustainability, and vulnerability. The first part of the course will introduce the study of climates from an earth systems approach. Implications of differences in climate for carbon, biodiversity, and humans will be discussed. The second part of the course will look at historical and current climate change trends and controls worldwide, including coverage of the different scientific methods used for studies of these processes. We will build towards developing the expertise to critically evaluate future climate scenarios using environmental and socio-ecological approaches.

Students are expected to read the assigned readings and participate actively in class. The exams will test knowledge, vocabulary, and ability to explain and apply information.  The class projects and writing assignment will work on the ability to synthesize and communicate on scientific issues associated with climate change.


Assumes background from GRG 301C, GRG 301K, or an equivalent course.

GRG 334C • Environ Hazards Lat Amer/Carib

36565 • Ramos Scharrón, Carlos E.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SRH 1.320
(also listed as LAS 330)
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The physical landscape of Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be shaped by natural processes that have acted over geologic time scales, but when these threaten life and property they are known as natural hazards. While some processes, like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, originate within the Earth’s interior, others such as floods and hurricanes are solely controlled at the Earth’s surface. Recent documented worldwide increases in the toll associated to natural disasters are presumably related to population growth, socioeconomic inequality, and climate change. This course will cover the array of natural disasters that occur throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the most natural hazard-prone areas on Earth. Discussions will expose students to the science that supports hazard risk analyses and to the temporal and geographical distribution of hazards throughout the region. The course will present humans not only as susceptible to hazards but also as capable of affecting the incidence and degree of damage through direct intervention of the landscape and indirectly through deficient land use planning strategies and climate change. Students will also gain perspective on hazard mitigation strategies being employed throughout the region.  

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

Meets MW 100pm-230pm BUR 130
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The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

GRG 336 • Contemp Cultural Geography

36575 • Zonn, Leo E.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 2.606
(also listed as URB 354)
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Recent theoretical developments in cultural geography, with a focus on landscapes and the everyday practices that imbue them with meaning; the ways those meanings are contested and are the foci of struggle; and how the relationship between culture and space plays a central role in the social construction of identity. Only one of the following may be counted: Geography 336, Urban Studies 354 (Topic: Contemporary Cultural Geography), 354 (Topic 8).

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

May be counted toward the writing flag requirement. May be counted toward the cultural diversity flag requirement. May be counted toward the independent inquiry flag requirement.


GRG 337 • The Modern American City

36585 • Heyman, Rich
Meets MWF 400pm-500pm CLA 1.104
(also listed as URB 352)
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Issues facing residents of United States cities, such as transportation and housing, poverty and crime, metropolitan finance, environmental and architectural design; historical/comparative urban evolution. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

May be counted toward the cultural diversity flag requirement.

SAME AS ARC 350R (TOPIC 1) , URB 352 (TOPIC 1).

GRG 339 • Process Geomorphology

36590 • Latrubesse, Edgardo M.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 1.402
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Analysis of geomorphic processes and their effects on landform development. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing, and credit or registration for Geography 301C or Geological Sciences 401.

GRG 339K • Envir, Devel, & Food Productn

36595 • Doolittle, William E.
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm CLA 0.128
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This course focuses on "indigenously developed" and what used to be call "traditional" farming methods and techniques. Such practices are those not dependent on either fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, or other external inputs, and hence have been called "Low extenal-input techonolgies" (LEIT). Based on "indigenous technical knowledge" (ITK), they are typically small in scale, involving for the most part the labor of individuals, families, and communities. Emphasis is placed on those systems most commonly used in various parts of the world today and in times past

Agriculture is treated here as the transformation of biophysical, sometimes referred to inappropriately as "natural," environments, into "cultural" environments. It is assessed in regard to both the plants cultivated (crops), and the soil, slope, moisture, and temperature conditions that exist and those that are either modified or created by farmers. The processes involved in the domestication of both crops and landscapes are discussed. Ecological and systematic approaches are taken in order to understand how different agricultural strategies insure continual long-term productivity and stability similar to that characteristic of environments that are not cultivated. Microeconomics is all-important.

The various "agro-ecosystems" are also discussed as economic activities that have highly visible spatial manifestations that result in distinctive "landscapes," and as activities that are dynamic, changing continuously. Development is treated conceptually as a specific type of change, not necessarily as a goal. It is envisaged as improvement in land productivity.  It is the opposite of land degradation. Agricultural features such as terraces and canals are considered "landesque capital." Social, political, and cultural aspects of agriculture and development are not topics dealt with here.

This is not a "how to" course for tree-hugging, granola-eating acolytes of John Muir who wish to remold the world into some unrealistic utopia. It is not intended for students who, like Kinky Friedman, went to Borneo to teach agriculture to people who'd been farming successfully for 2000 years. This course is not about developing "sustainable agriculture," per se.  It does, however, deal with issues of concern in the field of sustainability science, and is intended for students who wish to gain a better understanding of the complexity of human-environment interactions, particularly as they pertain to people feeding themselves. 

GRG 356 • Archaeology Of Climate Change

36600 • Rosen, Arlene
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 1
(also listed as ANT 324L)
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Course Description: Climate change has impacted human societies over the course of human existence on the planet. It has played a role in everything from hominin evolution to the rise and fall of civilizations through to the present day economic and ethical decision-making. In this course we will examine why climate changes, the methods for recording climate change, and discuss case studies of the varied responses of past human societies to climate change in different geographic regions and time periods with varying socio-political and economic systems. We will explore aspects of resilience and rigidity of societies and issues of environmental sustainability in the past as well as the present. Finally we will compare and contrast modern responses to climate change on a global scale with those of past societies.

Goals: To familiarize students with the evidence for climate change and methods of climate change research; to increase their understanding of the social, economic and technological issues human societies faced in the past when dealing with climate change. To understand what were adaptive and maladaptive human strategies. To help students evaluate the modern politics and social responses to climate change. On successful completion of this course a student should understand how climate change is recorded and the basic climatic record for the period of human occupation of the earth. To be familiar with current debates about how human societies adapt to climate change. To be able to think critically about issues and arguments proposed in the literature, and to write a coherent essay arguing a point of view.


Ethics and Leadership

This course carries the Ethics and Leadership flag. Ethics and Leadership courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments involving ethical issues and the process of applying ethical reasoning to real-life situations. Global Cultures This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.

Requirements: The class will have regular lectures and class discussions; student participation is required. Students are expected to regularly attend all classes, complete the assigned readings in advance of class, and come ready to discuss readings or topics.

GRG 356 • Gis Apps In Social/Env Sci

36605 • Miller, Jennifer A.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 1.402
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Please check back for updates.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 356 • Reporting On The Envir-Aus

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Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 356 • Children's Envirnmntl Hlth

36615 • Elkins, Jules R.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 1.108
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Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 356T • Landuse/Landcover Change Pract

36628 • Crews, Kelley A.
Meets T 400pm-700pm CLA 1.404
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GRG 356T • Mapping Latin America

36630 • Del Castillo, Lina
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SRH 1.115
(also listed as HIS 363K, LAS 330)
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The main objective of this course is to understand the role of maps in the creation of Latin America as a specific sort of place. As such, the course itself will allow students to become familiar with a broad overview of Latin American history from “pre-contact” civilizations to the modern period. By paying particular attention to the maps produced of and in the region within this broad time span, students are challenged to question existing assumptions of what “Latin America” means historically, culturally, and of course, spatially. This approach allows students to gauge the extent to which "Latin America" was created from 'within,' and/or from without. In other words, students will evaluate  the extent to which 'Latin America' is a product of collective imaginings by people from the nations and regions thought to 'belong' to Latin America. And, conversely, students will examine the extent to which people outside the region had geopolitical, economic, or cultural reasons for defining 'Latin America' in the ways that they have. Maps offer a tangible entryway into thinking critically about the significance of the category of 'Latin America,' but maps must be read carefully. Students will have the chance to develop their map-reading skills by using a wide range of graphic representations of the Americas since the arrival of Western Europeans. Students should interrogate these sources in terms of the extent to which they have contributed to constructing the idea of “Latin America.”

Students will come away from the course with an understanding of how maps work (and how they do work). That is, they will be able to explain the many ways maps present and communicate information, identify how and why particular maps are made, interpret how people have read different kinds of maps under different circumstances, and be sensitive to the implications of map silences on place formation.

GRG 356T • Primate Conservation

36635 • Hopkins, Mariah E.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 348K)
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Course Description: This course surveys the theory and practices of conservation biology, as applied specifically to primates. Topics will include species and community characteristics influencing extinction risk, current threats to primates, and potential conservation strategies.

Prerequisites: This is an upper division course. Prior background in physical anthropology or ecology is recommended, but not required. Ability to perform basic algebra is necessary.

Required Text:

Cowlishaw, G. & R. Dunbar. 2000. Primate Conservation Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Recommended Text:

Clayton, S. & Myers, G. 2009. Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature. Wiley Blackwell.

Additional Readings: Provided via canvas (check regularly!) and in-class.

Computer Programs (Freeware) Used: Vortex 9 Population Viability Analysis Software (B. Lacey, Chicago Zoological Society) and Landscape Species Selection II (Wildlife Conservation Society). Both computer programs require a PC, or a Mac that runs Windows.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand how the characteristics of primate species (i.e. behavior, ecology, demographics, physiology, and biogeography) influence extinction risk.

2. To become familiar with the major threats to primates, as well as the organizations working to conserve them.

3. To garner the tools necessary to evaluate feasible conservation plans, incorporating information from past conservation successes and failures.

GRG 356T • Race And Place

36637 • Thompson, Shirley E.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CMA 3.114
(also listed as AFR 372C, AMS 321)
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When Harriet Tubman struck out for her own freedom and for that of countless others, she knew that her success depended on an intimate knowledge of the geographic boundaries of slave and free territory and the network of safe(r) spaces known as the Underground Railroad. When segregationists advocated for laws and policies that reinforced the color line, they spoke from an interest in “keeping blacks in their place.” When current day media executives attempt to market their programming to African American audiences they often frame them in terms of an “urban” market.  As these examples show, social constructions of race and status in the United States have always intersected with social constructions of place.

This course explores these intersecting themes of race and place by considering a range of topics beginning with the formulation of an exclusively white national space from the conquest of indigenous land and the transportation of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. We will also consider various challenges to this white supremacist national logic, from the presence of the Haitian Republic to expressions of black nationalism, diasporic imaginings and exilic critique. We will discuss geographies of plantation slavery and Jim Crow segregation and black resistance to these geographies as individuals and groups such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Marcus Garvey, Anna Julia Cooper, Rosa Parks, and the Freedom Riders forced a reconfiguration of public and private space. We will focus on such iconic black urban and rural spaces such as Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, the Sea Islands, and more to keep track of the varied and complex politics of race and belonging. This course will provide a theoretical foundation in critical race studies and cultural geography and it will engage a wide variety of media, including speeches, memoir, poetry, music, visual culture, performance culture, film, and television. 

GRG 356T • Urban Publics

36645 • Heyman, Rich
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm CLA 0.120
(also listed as URB 354)
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GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

36650-36665 • Arima, Eugenio
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am CLA 0.128
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This course introduces basic concepts underlying geographic information systems and science (GIS), including related or integrated technologies and applications such as global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, and spatial analysis. It combines an overview of the general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and issues associated with the use of spatial environmental information. Although the course has a laboratory component that introduces students to the most commonly used GIS software package, the focus is on the “science behind the software” (eg, types and implications of functions and analysis, rather than just how to do the analysis).

GRG 366C • Comparative Ecosystems

36680 • Young, Kenneth R.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 3.102
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This course will survey the important ecosystem processes that affect the distributions, characteristics, and management of natural environments at landscape, regional, and continental scales. We will cover ecosystem functions including carbon dynamics, nutrient cycling, water balance, and the role of natural disturbances. This will be done by drawing examples and inspiration from a wide range of ecosystems, from the tundra to the rain forests and grasslands of the tropics. We will also evaluate the role of human impact in altering those environments, for farming or extractive practices, and we will search for appropriate management and conservation strategies for sustainable use. 

Students are expected to have background in physical geography and/or ecology. This prerequisite is best accomplished by previously taking GRG 301C or its equivalent.


Required textbook:

Chapin, III, F.S, P. A. Matson & P. M. Vitousek.  2011.  Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. Second edition.  Springer, New York.  ISBN: 978-1-4419-9502-5 (paperback).


GRG 373F • Field Techniques

36695 • Doolittle, William E.
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm CLA 3.102
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Geographers sitting in their offices frequently find themselves lacking the right type of data to deal with a specific problem at hand. This is the case for practitioners holding a bachelor's degree and working in the private sector as well as for academicians holding doctoral degrees and teaching at comprehensive research universities. For example, a geographer employed by a firm designing a retirement community may be faced with a problem such as assessing a series of possible sites on which to build the swimming pool. Maps and aerial photographs may be available, but do they contain sufficiently detailed information about the soils, geology, slope, vegetation, hydrology, and cultural features such as historic structures, wells, fences or walls? And, how are these items or conditions spatially distributed in absolute terms and relative to each other? Or, consider a scholar investigating the expansion cacao cultivation in the rainforests of southern Brazil. How does she or he distinguish fields from forest? Cacao, after all, is a tree which grows in the shade of taller trees, and, accordingly, farmers do not clear-cut the forest before planting their crop. And, what about the composition(s) of the "natural" environment(s) and that (those) of the fields? What about the sizes and shapes of the fields, and socio-economic characteristics of the farmers? The only way to get these data are to go into "the field," and to use certain techniques.

This course introduces advanced geography students to a number of various techniques used in gathering field data. It does not deal with every technique nor does it go into great detail on any one.  It does, however, offer the basics of certain types of data collection, and, in so doing, it provides a foundation on which more advanced study--either formally through other classes, or informally through self-training--can be undertaken.

The course is divided into two parts, each dealing with different types of techniques, and each with different levels of supervision.  The first part of the course deals with mapping, the most fundamental of geographic activities. Students learn how to collect data with a clearly spatial dimensions. They begin by using some very simple instruments and progress to using the latest electronic surveying equipment. Emphasis is placed on mapping small areas largely because data at this scale are usually what geographers do not already possess, and, therefore, need. Also, working at this scale gives students a first-hand appreciation for, or at least a "taste" of, the processes involved in collecting data portrayed on existing maps of various scales. Instruction during this first half of the semester is very focused; students are closely supervised.

The second part of the course focuses on the collection of various types of environmental data that can be mapped. Emphasis here is placed on both "natural" data used most often, but not exclusively, by so-called "physical geographers," and "cultural" data commonly used by so-called "human geographers." Also, techniques for determining past as well as current conditions are covered in order for students to assess changing geographies. Instruction during the second half of the semester is less supervised than in the first half. Students are given a great deal of liberty to hone their skills at making professional judgements.

The focus of this course is on landscapes, especially those that are material and visible. Instruction includes some classroom lectures and several outdoor exercises. This course involves hands-on experience. Students can expect to be hot, cold, dirty, and wet, and exposed to some health risks. Research methods, project formulation, laboratory data analyses, and cartography are not be part of this course. This course deals exclusively with outdoor data collection techniques.

GRG 374 • Frontiers In Geography

36700 • Zonn, Leo E.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 0.108
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Course Objective and Subjects

The primary objective of this course is to provide you a ‘working understanding’ of the contemporary nature of Geography, which means I am interested in considering Geography as it is practiced. My department expects this course, Frontiers in Geography, to be a ‘capstone’ experience, although none of us really knows what that means. It can be interpreted in a variety of ways and the faculty of our department have tried many of them while teaching this course, based to a great extent upon their own respective personal and academic histories, styles, personalities, and general sense of what is important and what is not. None of them are wrong.

The route I have chosen is a ‘working understanding’, which it is hoped, will complement and supplement what you have been studying for these last few years.

I begin with the simplest of questions—What is Geography?—and then provide a set of fundamentals that will help answer the question, thus providing a ‘working’ understanding:

 It is a set of concepts

 It is a frame for study

 It is a discipline

 It is a university subject

 It is a job

1)  Concepts. In this section we provide an overview of the nature of the discipline—“what are the fundamental precepts that define Geography?” To some extent this is a summary and gathering together of ideas that surround what you have been doing for the last few years as a Geography major. At the same time it is my opportunity to stress my favorite geo-concept: Place, perhaps along with space, its little stepsister.

2) Frame. We use these concepts to help frame our study of geographic processes, especially in terms of the patterns of human activity. Such a framing will help illuminate the essences of these processes.  For the purposes of this class we will focus primarily on ‘place’ in research focused on the example of tourism. The focus of your final capstone paper and most of your readings will be here, therefore, on the subject called “A Geography of Tourism”, framed within the concept of place.

3) Discipline. We will discuss Geography as a contemporary academic discipline in terms of its history, associations, journals, and departments.

4) University. The heart and history of a discipline begins with the university. Here we will talk about the contemporary nature of the American University, especially in this contentious political and economic era; issues of note at the national, state, and UT levels will be discussed.  We do so to understand the home of Geography, but we will spend time on issues that may not have immediate relevance to our discipline.

5) Job. Several of you will be disappointed that this course is not centered on getting you a job.  In fact, we won’t spend much time on the subject at all.  Why?  Because basically it is not within my purview; the truth be known, I don’t know much about that subject, which is true of most of my colleagues.  This goes back to our subject of the University (above); more on that later. But we will not ignore it.  We will work on your resumes, discuss ways you can aggressively engage the lousy market out there, consider issues of cover letters and interviewing, and we will bring people into the classroom who can help provide us some practicalities of the search.  We will also discuss graduate school.  Here I can help much more, although if the past is any predictor fewer than five or six of you will be immediately interested.  We’ll play that one by ear.

The discussion of these five issues will be linear in the most general sense, but because they are often so closely intertwined we will integrate them at times. Also, I cannot assign a specific amount of time for each subject—although the system often asks that I do—because we reserve the right to spend more or less time on individual subjects as we see fit, once we are there. No worries; it will work.