Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
geography masthead geography masthead
Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Chair 305 E. 23rd Street • CLA 3.306 • A3100 • Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-232-1595

Course Descriptions

GRG 301C • The Natural Environment

36470-36525 • Young, Kenneth R.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BUR 106
show description

This course will provide an introduction to the study of the Earth, and in particular to the physical and biological factors that create the biosphere in which we live. Physical geography includes aspects of all the earth sciences. As a result, you will be exposed to the vocabulary used by earth scientists and to the processes that control climate, the distributions of plants and animals, and the dynamics and development of landforms and soils of the Earth.

download syllabus

GRG 301K • Weather And Climate

36530 • Kimmel Jr., Troy M.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm JES A121A
show description

Our study of weather and climate is intended for Geography/Environment majors and all others interested in a broad brush examination of the atmospheric and climatic sciences. This study will be introductory in nature with only a very basic use of mathematics. We will start with a study of meteorology. From this foundation, we will go into the different aspects of the atmosphere and then, later, into climatological matters and discuss the various climatic regimes including that of Texas and the local area.

download syllabus

GRG 304E • Envir Sci: A Changing World

36545 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm CLA 1.106
show description

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

36550 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm CLA 1.106
show description

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

36570-36610 • Heyman, Rich
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm WCH 1.120
show description

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 309 • Israel: Space/Place/Landscape

36615 • Weinreb, Amelia
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 0.120
(also listed as ANT 310L, J S 311, MES 310)
show description

This multidisciplinary, interactive workshop is designed to foster dialog, debate and creative projects between lower-division undergraduate students with interests in Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Anthropology, and Geography.

The core component of this class is the final project. Following the introductory unit, teams of students will then propose one site, space, place or landscape in Israel/Palestine to explore in depth, and propose a conceptual framework for doing so. Each team will be responsible for exploring social, cultural, political, phenomenological, aesthetic and affective processes related to the site they have selected. This experimental seminar is for students who want to experience a collaborative learning environment, gain a set of multidisciplinary analytic skills, learn about space in Israel, interact with students who may have different disciplinary and political viewpoints, and want to learn and write about space, spatiality and spatialization.

Hot Middle Eastern breakfast beverages served in class!

GRG 319 • Geography Of Latin America

36620 • Knapp, Gregory W.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 0.128
(also listed as LAS 319)
show description

This course is a general introduction to Latin American environments and peoples from a geographical perspective. 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 benefit from the exploration of such topics as landforms, ecology, environmental hazards, Native American lifeways and resource management, the insertion of Latin America in the global economy, population, cities, sustainable development, geopolitics, frontiers, conservation, and cultural survival. The class can serve as a basic preparation for travel, business, government service, journalism or volunteer work in Latin America, as well as for elementary or secondary school teaching.

This course can be used toward a major or minor in either Geography or Latin American Studies. In the Geography major, the course meets the human geography core requirement, and is also appropriate for students taking the Cultural Geography, Environmental Resource Management, and General Geography tracks. The course can be used to meet the Area B requirement for the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences. This course may not be used towards the Area C requirement (some other courses in geography do meet this requirement). All students are required to take the final exam.

Grading Policy

Exams test knowledge of locations (with map questions), concepts, explanations, and solutions. The tests contain objective, map, and short-answer essay type questions. The student is responsible for all the material in the readings, assigned web pages, and lectures, including maps and other graphics, but the lectures are most important. Quizzes are handed out at the beginning of several lectures.

Quizzes & Attendance (15%) Three Exams (60%) Project (details to be announced in class) (25%).

GRG 320K • Land And Life: Amer Southwest

36625 • Doolittle, William E.
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm CLA 1.102
show description

This course is a historical geography of the arid southwestern quadrant of the North American continent. As such, it includes not only the southwestern portion of the United States, but also much of northern Mexico. The reason for this is quite simple; until relatively recently--AD 1848-- there were no political boundaries separating the two nation states. Indeed the notion of nationalism only came about 200 years earlier with the Treaty of Westphalia. Focus is on two subtopics. 

download syllabus

GRG 323K • S Amer: Nat/Socty/Sust-Ecu

36630 • Knapp, Gregory W.
(also listed as LAS 330)
show description

Restricted to students in the Maymester Abroad Program; contact the Stud y Abroad Office for permission to register for this class. Class meets J une 3-July 3. Taught in various locations in Ecuador, including Cuenca, Ecuador. Students must consult with Study Abroad Program Coordinator as travel and orientation dates may be in addition to these dates.

GRG 327 • Geog Of Former Soviet Union

36635 • Jordan, Bella B.
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm PAR 301
(also listed as REE 345)
show description

This course is designed to give a deeper understanding of the Post-Soviet space, focusing on the major geographic factors that define this enormous Eurasian realm, including modern and historical cultural landscapes, economy and politics of the region, demography and health, religious cultures, environmental crises, contested territories, and the most recent geopolitical developments in the region.


A Geography of Russia and Its Neighbors. By Mikhail S. Blinnikov. 2011, NY: The Gifford Press.

Grading requirements:

1)    Students must take 2 exams, each worth 25% of the totals grade.

2)    Students will prepare an oral presentation on a topic related to the term paper and approved by the instructor. The presentation’s length should not exceed 15 minutes.

3)    Students will write a term paper, worth 30% of the final grade. The paper must be

10-12 pages long, double-spaced, typed in 12-point font. The bibliography should contain scholarly publications, including books and articles from peer-reviewed journals. 

Course prerequisite: Upper division standing.

GRG 333C • Severe And Unusual Weather

36645 • Kimmel Jr., Troy M.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 0.112
show description

As a continuation of and having a prerequisite of GRG301K/Weather and Climate, this course expands more specifically into a detailed discussion of atmospheric hazards such as severe thunderstorms and their offspring (hail, lightning, tornadoes, damaging winds and flash floods) as well as tropical cyclones. As part of that discussion, we’ll discuss human risk perception as it regards these atmospheric hazards.

PREREQUISITE: Sucessful completion of GRG301K/Weather and Climate in a prior semester.

download syllabus

GRG 333K • Climate Change

36650 • Beach, Timothy
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CLA 3.102
show description

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

36655 • Ramos Scharrón, Carlos E.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SRH 1.320
(also listed as LAS 330)
show description

 The physical landscape of Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be formed and reshaped by natural processes that have acted over geologic time scales. When these processes threaten life and property they are called natural hazards. Recent documented worldwide increases in the human and economic toll associated to natural disasters are presumably related to population growth, socioeconomic factors, and climate change. This course will cover some of the types of natural disasters that occur throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the most natural hazard-prone areas on Earth.

GRG 334K • Soils

36660 • Pérez, Francisco L.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 1.106
show description

Morphology, genesis, properties, and distribution of world soils. Factors of soil formation. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing; and six semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one or more of the geological or natural sciences, or the equivalent.

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

36665 • Holloway, Paul
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 420
show description

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.

download syllabus

GRG 336 • Contemp Cultural Geography

36670 • Zonn, Leo E.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 0.108
(also listed as URB 354)
show description

Topics on the social and cultural diversity within cities; social policies; and the sociocultural impact of the media and other institutions on urban development. 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. Some topics partially fulfill legislative requirement for American history. Only one of the following may be counted: Geography 336, Urban Studies 354 (Topic: Contemporary Cultural Geography), 354 (Topic 8).

Prerequisite: Varies with the topic and is given in the Course Schedule. Additional 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.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.


GRG 337 • The Modern American City

36675 • Heyman, Rich
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm CLA 1.104
(also listed as URB 352)
show description

An introduction to urban studies research methodologies. Includes sources of urban data, the use of the library in urban research, formulating research questions, research design, methods commonly used in urban research, the use of computers to store and manipulate quantitative urban data, and an introduction to data analysis and theoretical and practical applications of urban research. 

Prerequisite: Mathematics 408C or 408K with a grade of at least C-; Mathematics 316 or Statistics and Scientific Computation 305 with a grade of at least C-; and Urban Studies 301.

May be counted toward the writing flag requirement.

Designed to accommodate 35 or fewer students. Restricted enrollment; contact the department for permission to register for this class.

GRG 339 • Process Geomorphology

36680 • Pérez, Francisco L.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 3.102
show description

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

36685 • Doolittle, William E.
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm CLA 0.128
show description

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 technologies" (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.

download syllabus

GRG 356 • Archaeology Of Climate Change

36694 • Rosen, Arlene
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm SAC 4.174
(also listed as ANT 324L)
show 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.

download syllabus

GRG 356 • Water & Watersheds

36700 • Ramos Scharrón, Carlos E.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm JES A215A
show description

Topics include environmental assessment methods and techniques, the conservation movement, and climate and people.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary

Taught by Arlene Rosen 

GRG 356 • Children's Envirnmntl Hlth

36703 • Elkins, Jules R.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CMA 3.114
show description

Topics include environmental assessment methods and techniques, the conservation movement, and climate and people.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary

Taught by Arlene Rosen 

GRG 356T • Geog Religion E Europe/Russia

36704 • Jordan, Bella B.
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm PAR 301
(also listed as R S 357, REE 345)
show description

Course description: This course is designed to give a comprehensive understanding of major religious culture regions in the former Eastern bloc countries. In the post-socialist period some of these societies are experiencing religious revival and others display high degrees of secularization. The course will focus on the analysis of such processes, including religious revival in the former Soviet republics, political and historical roots of divergence of Christian denominations in Central and Eastern Europe, Russian protestant movements like Old Believers and Dukhobors, traditional Islam in the Balkans and North Caucasus, Lamaist Buddhist traditions among Buryats and Tuvans of Siberia, and resurfacing of neo-shamanistic practices.

This course will discuss the most important features of these religious regions, such as religious art and architecture, most important beliefs and rituals, political and cultural reverberations of such practices for people, residing in these regions.

Basis for the grade:

  1. Students must take 2 exams, each worth 25% of the totals grade. Exams will contain Multiple Choice questions, short questions, a take-home essay and a map question. The exams will be of the same format.
  2. Students will write a term paper, worth 30% of the final grade. The paper must be 10-12 pages long, double-spaced, typed in 12-point font. The bibliography should contain scholarly publications, including books and articles from peer-reviewed journals.
  3. Working in a team of 2 or 3, students will prepare an oral presentation on a topic related to the term paper and approved by the instructor. The presentation’s length should not exceed 15 minutes.  20% of the grade.


Course policies:

1)   Make-up exams will be allowed only in cases of medical emergency, with the written proof from the doctor’s office. There will be no final exam.

2)   Late term papers will not be accepted. All the term papers must be submitted on May 1.

3)   Observation of religious holidays: according to the University of Texas at Austin regulations religious holidays are observed accordingly. The students need to notify the instructor in advance.

4)   Plagiarism will not be tolerated and students might face severe consequences in cases of plagiarism. Students must use their own ideas and words only and cite their sources very carefully.

5)   Cell phones must be put away during class time and computers may be used only for note taking or class activities.

6)   Though there are no points assigned for class attendance, attending lectures is strongly recommended as a prerequisite for success in this class.

7)   The University of Texas at Austin will provide accommodations for students with disabilities.


Required textbook: a course package available at University Co-Op.

GRG 356T • Primate Conservation

36705 • Hopkins, Mariah E.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SAC 4.174
(also listed as ANT 348K)
show 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.

download syllabus

GRG 356T • Intl Development In Africa

36710 • Faria, Caroline
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm CLA 1.108
(also listed as AFR 372F)
show description

How are popular representations of Africa reflected in development policy?

What are the historical and globalized roots of ‘underdevelopment’ in Africa?

What were the outcomes of big dam and fishing projects in Ghana and Tanzania?

Is global warming the cause of the conflict in Darfur, Sudan?

What are the ethics around diamond mining in Sierra Leone and oil drilling in Nigeria?

How have women combined feminist and environmentalist efforts in Kenya?

How has the ‘War on Terror’ reshaped African geopolitics?

How are African innovators rethinking development on their continent?


Welcome to 356T: Geographies of International Development in Africa! This course critically examines the major approaches to development on the African continent with a focus on a range of African resources. We will review how these approaches are connected to and underpinned by historically persistent representations, policies and political inequalities and the ways in which they have changed over time. Using a case study approach we will consider one major resource each week, from water to wildlife, forests to farms, airways to rangelands, and including a consideration of African bodies themselves as resources and sites of development. Through these examples we will explore, discuss and debate the ideological foundations of varied development approaches and their political, social and economic outcomes for African people and places. In doing so we will also examine the ways in which African people and places are linked to broader international process. Finally we will pay attention each week to the ways in which dominant development practices have been taken up, resisted and reworked by Africans in varied ways.


Intellectual Goals

At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • To critically examine changing ideas of development in Africa in the context of a range of resources
  • To historicize the construction of varied contemporary environments in Africa and related ecological and development issues
  • To examine the links between representations of Africa and African bodies and historical and contemporary forms of extraction, exploitation, and development
  • To consider the ecological, social and political outcomes of oil and mineral resource extraction, water, forest and rangeland management projects, conservation efforts and agricultural development in Africa
  • To explore how ecological challenges are being addressed across a range of scales; from the global to the local


Learning Goals

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Describe and critique the dominant approaches to development in Africa
  • Connect key problems around ecology and development in Africa to histories, ideologies, policies, and resistances within and beyond the continent
  • Participate in key debates about the role of the environment in African ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’


Write-to-learn Goals

  • Critically evaluate geographical arguments presented in a range of media (visual, oral and textual) through the use of writing exercises.
  • Learn, understand and communicate key geographical concepts by writing for a range of audiences, including peers, the geographical scholarly community, and the public.
  • Practice writing in a range of formats: abstracts, thesis statements and full research papers written for a geographical academic audience, write-to-learn reflective pieces, short films/presentations. 
  • Collect, critically evaluate and utilize geographical academic research in order to make a strong argument/ answer a carefully crafted research question.
  • Strengthen skills of peer-review in a variety of forms


Global Cultures Course Flag:

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.

download syllabus

GRG 356T • Vienna: Memory/The City-Aut

36720 • Hoelscher, Steven D
(also listed as AMS 370, EUS 346, GSD 360, HIS 362G, URB 354)
show description

Prerequisite: Varies with the topic and is given in the Course Schedule.

May be counted toward the global cultures flag requirement.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Restricted to students in the Study Abroad program. Class meets January 18-April 12. Taught at Casa Herrera, Antigua, Guatemala. Students must c onsult with department as travel and orientation dates may be in additio n to these dates.

GRG 356T • Gis/Rem Sns Archaeol/Paleo

36725 • Reed, Denné N.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm SAC 5.112
(also listed as ANT 324L)
show description

 This course surveys archeological and paleontological applications of remotely sensed data such as aerial

photography and satellite imagery for use in locating field sites, planning field logistics and conducting landscape

analysis. The remote sensing component of the course covers remote sensing data acquisition, image georectification,

image processing and classification.

The GIS component of the course builds on the remote sensing component and adds to it the analysis of map features

stored in databases. The course introduces databases theory and practice, and moves through the various stages

of GIS workflow: the planning and design of GIS projects, building geospatial datasets, various methods of geospatial

analysis and a short introduction to map layouts and reports.

This course covers GIS and remote sensing from an applied perspective and students are expected to invest lab time

in completing tutorials on GIS and RS methods as well as applying these methods to individual projects.

Prerequisites and Expectations:  This course is designed to compliment ANT 324L Digital Data Systems in

Archeology, which has a greater emphasis on data acquisition and field methods. This is NOT an introductory

course in GIS and remote sensing . This is an accelerated course is GIS and RS fundamentals. There are no enforced

prerequisites, but students should have a comfortable working knowledge of computers and an introductory

GIS or remote sensing course is recommended but not required.

download syllabus

GRG 356T • Urban Publics

36730 • Heyman, Rich
Meets MWF 300pm-400pm JES A209A
(also listed as URB 354)
show description

Topics on the social and cultural diversity within cities; social policies; and the sociocultural impact of the media and other institutions on urban development. Some topics partially fulfill legislative requirement for American history.

Prerequisite: Varies with the topic and is given in the Course Schedule.

May be counted toward the cultural diversity flag requirement.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.


GRG 357 • Medical Geography

36735 • Elkins, Jules R.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am ETC 2.114
show description

The geographic distribution, expansion, and contraction of the infectious diseases that have the greatest influence in shaping human societies today: malaria, AIDS, and others. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

36740-36755 • Arima, Eugenio
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm CLA 0.128
show description

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).

download syllabus

GRG 462K • Intro Remote Sensing Of Envir

36765 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 1.106
show description

The use of electromagnetic energy to sense objects in the natural environment; interpretation and recognition of patterns detected by sensors. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 368C • Spatial Anly/Geograph Info Sys

36770 • Miller, Jennifer A.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 1.402
show description

In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics.

download syllabus

GRG 374 • Frontiers In Geography

36785 • Zonn, Leo E.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 0.108
show description

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.

bottom border