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Department of Geography

Fall 2020 Courses

Undergraduates may take 100- through 500-level courses. Graduate students will only receive credit for courses numbered at the 500-level and above.

Section 001 / M W  5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m./ Online — Async & Sync / Dr. Brian Grabbatin (7-5234)

This course introduces students to the breadth of geography and the relevance of geographical concepts and methods to an array of current issues, including climate change, migration, natural hazards, and urbanization. It explores concepts of space, place, mobility, and scale and shows how geographic expertise informs decision-making and problem-solving in a variety of fields, including location analysis for business, environmental policy, and economic development. This course further demonstrates the applicability of geography to other fields of study and to analysis of current events.

Section 001 / M W 8:05 a.m.–9:20 a.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Jory Fleming (7-5234) 
Section 002 / M W F  9:40 a.m.–10:30 a.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Staff (7-5234) 
Section 003* / M W 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Christopher Krause (7-5234)  (* Reserved for incoming freshmen)
Section 004** / T R 4:25 p.m.–7:10 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Staff (7-5234)  (**Half-semester course; runs second half of semester)

The Digital Earth is an introductory course that focuses on how the earth surface is visualized, explored, and analyzed in digital formats. It provides a systematic introduction of map-based analysis of the Earth’s environment and human society. The topics cover the basics of cartography (map making and reading), aerial photography and satellite image interpretation, geographic information systems (GIS), and map-based reasoning and communication of spatial data. Through lectures and hands-on activities, students will learn the fundamentals using geographic data analysis to understand vast quantities of information about our ever-changing world. Students will be exposed to leading-edge trends in mapping technology, with examples from everyday life like web-based maps and smartphone apps.

Note: Students are required to bring their own laptop to class.

T R 8:30 a.m.–9:45 a.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. Caroline R. Nagel (7-4970)

This course introduces students to diversity, inequality, and interconnectedness in the contemporary world through the lens of regional geography. In terms of diversity, this course highlights the ways that the physical environment, social and economic systems, political relationships, and historical circumstances have produced distinctive regions, like “Latin America” and “the Middle East.” In terms of interconnectedness, this course explores the ways global processes—world trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism, geopolitical conflict, and climate change—have integrated different world regions into a complex global system. In terms of inequality, this course gives special attention to the way that regional and global processes intersect to produce and reinforce social and geographical disparities.

Lecture*  / T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. John A. Kupfer (7-6739)
Lab I  / T 11:40 a.m.–1:30 p.m. / Online
Lab II / W 9:40 a.m.–11:30 a.m. / Online
Lab III / W 12:00 p.m.–1:50 p.m. / Online
Lab IV / W 3:55 p.m.–5:45 p.m. / Online

This course is an introduction to the physical features on the Earth’s land surface emphasizing soils, hydrology, and processes of landform creation by water, wind, ice, and gravity.  Landforms are physical features on the Earth’s surface such as valleys, hillslopes, beaches, sand dunes, and stream channels.  The study of landforms is one of the oldest of the natural sciences from which many classic scientific premises and methods were born.  Landforms and soils provide evidence of past environmental conditions, how they have changed, and the processes involved, including human actions and natural agents.  The course emphasizes environmental changes in the recent geologic past up to the present. 

*4 credit hour course includes a 2-hour laboratory each week.

Lecture* / T 2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m. / CALLCOTT 201 / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. Gregory J. Carbone (7-0682)
Lab I /  W 12:00 p.m.–1:50 p.m. / Online
Lab II / W 2:20 p.m.–4:10 p.m. / Online
Lab III / R 11:40 a.m.–1:30 p.m. / Online

This course provides students with a general understanding of the processes which influence weather and climate patterns.  It first examines the sources of energy driving atmospheric processes, the importance of atmospheric moisture, and the forces creating the winds.  The second part of the course focuses on storm systems, including mid-latitude cyclones and severe weather.  The last third of the class is devoted to the study of climate, climate variability and change, and the impact of such change on human activity.  The laboratory sections will include experiments, workbook exercises, and analysis of real-time computer weather graphics.  The final grade will be based on lecture exams, lab exams, take-home exercises, a weather journal, and regular lecture and lab quizzes.

*4 credit hour course includes a 2-hour laboratory each week.

 Lecture*  / Blended class: T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / CALLCOTT 112 & Online / Dr. April L. Hiscox (7-6604)
Lab / R 11:40 a.m.–1:30 p.m. / CALLCOTT 112
Honors College permission required

This course provides students with a general understanding of the processes which influence weather and climate patterns on the earth.  It first examines the sources of energy driving atmospheric processes, the importance of atmospheric moisture, and the forces creating the winds.  The second part of the course focuses on storm systems, including mid-latitude cyclones and severe weather.  The last third of the class is devoted to the study of climate, climate variability and change, and the impact of such change on human activity.  The laboratory sections will include experiments, workbook exercises, and analysis of real-time computer weather graphics.  The final grade will be based on lecture exams, lab exams, take-home exercises, a weather journal, and regular lecture and lab quizzes. Honors College permission required.

*4 credit hour course includes a 2-hour laboratory each week.

T R 4:25 p.m.–5:40 p.m. / Online — Sync / Dr. Catherine C. Studemeyer (7-4186)

This course covers a wide range of topics relating to the human and physical geography of the European subcontinent, including human settlement and migration, trade, resource extraction, commodity production, and geopolitical (re)actions. We will take a “historical-geographical” approach to the course—that is, we will consider key geographic patterns and transformations in different historical periods, specifically the Medieval/Pre-Modern period, the Age of Industrialization and Urbanization (the 17th to early 20th centuries), and the Contemporary Period (the period since WWII). In each period, the course highlights the mutually transformative relationships between economic production, state/regulatory systems, social organization, and the built, cultivated, and natural environments.  How, we will ask, did particular geographical systems come about in Europe, and how and why did they change?  How did innovations in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and governance alter people’s livelihoods and re-shape the geographical landscape? The class will familiarize students with current realities in and events affecting Europe: a dynamic European Union, the Brexit vote, the re-emergence of populism, the refugee crisis, and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Throughout the course, we will constantly be asking, what is Europe, and what (if anything) makes Europe a “unique,” definable space?

T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / Online — Sync / Dr. Jessica E. Barnes (7-9945)

The Middle East is more than camels and sand dunes, mosques and oil rigs. It includes diverse environments, from deserts to deltas, snow-topped peaks to seashores, fields to forests. It is occupied by people of many different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. In this course, we go beyond the dominant media coverage of a region characterized by social protest, religious fundamentalism, and conflict to explore the everyday lives of the diverse peoples living in this region. We start by considering boundaries and representations of the Middle East. In the second section of the course, we unpack geographical distinctions between desert, countryside, city, wilderness, and the sea. The third section of the course examines some key threads of social life – religion, gender, kinship, and popular culture. The concluding section of the course focuses on the politics of rule, tracing politics across scale, from the local through to the global, and concluding with a look at the social movements of the Arab Spring. A major goal of the course is to understand key issues from the perspectives of the people who live in the Middle East. We will encounter the Middle East through a variety of media, including research, fiction, travelogues, journalism, blogs, and documentary films.

Blended: T R 1:15 p.m.–2:30 p.m. / CALLCOTT 228 & Online / Dr. April L. Hiscox (7-6604)

This course will explore the breadth and depth of the discipline of geography through the visual representation of spatial relationships in the form of a collaborative quilt project. The discipline of geography spans the social sciences, environmental sciences, and the humanities. But regardless of their methods and interests, all geographers are concerned with the spatial dimensions of different processes and the ways diverse phenomena converge and interact in particular sites. This course explores the discipline of geography holistically. Each week students will discuss how a single image can be interpreted from different geographical perspectives and will then work collaboratively to represent visually the concepts learned in class. Thematic topics will include environmental change, urban space, historical landscape, and climate, among others. An emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of these topics will be presented, and students will practice collaboration through the act of quilting. Quilting and fiber arts are well-established mediums for engaging with environmental and social justice and with community histories. Quilting integrates qualitative and quantitative reasoning and stimulates creative ways of conveying spatial knowledge. This course will engage both halves of the brain and push will students outside of their comfort zones in a supportive, fun atmosphere. No prior quilting experience is necessary.


M W 2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m. / Online — Sync / Dr. Conor M. Harrison (576-6010)

Are cities sustainable? The popular media often present cities as plagued by unsolvable environmental and social problems. Yet many cities, governments, urban theorists, and everyday people have come to see cities as the solution to problems ranging from climate change to poverty. This course focuses on the city as the primary location of environmental, social, and economic sustainability efforts in both historical and contemporary contexts. The course draws on concepts and theories from urban studies, geography, sociology, and urban planning to examine the natural and social flows of natural resources, people, and money that have and continue to structure life in cities. This course examines the conceptual foundations of sustainability and urban life, considers how cities became unsustainable in historical context, studies and applies the best practices in contemporary sustainable design theory, and examines a range of contemporary issues that are shaping urban sustainability efforts. Students will learn research methods and put to work concepts that aid in critical thinking through a range of writing, sketching, and other assignments.

T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Staff (7-5234)

This course is an introduction to the principles and practice of map design. It provides the student with an understanding of the most appropriate ways of symbolizing geographic data on maps. Students develop cartographic skills through the completion of map projects using the latest Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Students learn how to design effective and attractive maps through lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and hands-on mapping activities. In the latter half of the course, each student completes a final mapping project, based on a topic he or she selects.

T R 11:40 a.m.–12:55 p.m. / CALLCOTT 101 / Dr. Caroline R. Nagel (7-4970)

This class explores urban development and city life in the United States. We begin by examining the role of industrialization, government policies, immigration, and changing technologies in shaping U.S. cities. We will ask: What makes a city a city? What makes urbanism a distinct way of life? And what type of city do we want to live in? This class will draw on classic and current research in urban geography to explore relationships between the urban political-economy and urban social life. We will look in detail at the ways different social groups experience the city and use urban space to enforce or undermine structures of power. Topics covered include urban planning and zoning, real estate practices, public housing, suburbanization, gentrification, segregation, and public space.


Blended: M W 3:55 p.m.–5:10 p.m. / CALLCOTT 201 & Online / Dr. Cary J. Mock (7-1211)

This course examines the interrelationship between climate and human activities. We will study the physical nature of the climate system, climate variability and change; and their climatic impacts on society, including the social, economic, and political factors involved with these impacts. The approach will be based mostly from the examination of selected case studies.  Specific topics that will be covered include past climatic change and society, perceptions and impacts of climate during the historical period in North America, climate determinism, severe drought, climatic hazards which include hurricanes, fire, climate and health, and global warming.   Class sessions will vary between lecture, discussion, and class exercises.  Evaluation will be based on short writing assignments and exams. There are no course prerequisites.  

T R 4:25 p.m.–5:40 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. R. Dean Hardy (7-7593)

This course examines the political, social, and cultural dimensions of water as a resource. In the first part of the class we will explore the multiple functions that water fulfills as a resource. It quenches thirst, sustains crops, generates power, cools industry, carries waste, and maintains ecosystems.  For each of these topics we will look at the management issues, problems, and solutions that play out on individual, national, and global scales. The second part of the class will focus on the political dynamics of water distribution, access, and use via several case studies. We will investigate questions of transboundary water management, climate change adaptation, water-related disasters, water governance, water scarcity, and the threat of water wars. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to questions of justice, equity, and sustainability.

T R 2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m. / CALLCOTT 101 / Dr. John A. Kupfer, John (7-6739)

Biogeography involves mapping and understanding the distributions of plants and animals today and reconstructing those in the past using a range of analytical techniques, including geographic information systems, genetic analysis, dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) and palynology (the study of pollen to reconstruct past climates). Biogeographers also conduct research on how physical and biological factors control distributions of plants and animals and study how geographic distributions affect the evolution and extinction of species. In recent years, biogeographers have been involved in applying their knowledge to the protection of rare and endangered species and the conservation and management of threatened ecosystems. This course is broken down into 3 modules. The first module focuses on ecological concepts; the second module deals with the importance of evolutionary processes and biogeographic changes in geologic time, and the final module examines the development of modern distributions of plant and animal species and contemporary issues in biogeography such as conservation and land management.

Section 001 / T R 4:25 p.m.–5:40 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. Zhenlong Li (7-4590)
Section 002 / M 2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. Michael E. Hodgson (7-8976)

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) represent a major advancement in the management and analysis of geographical data. These systems are used extensively throughout all levels of government, private industry, and academia to provide support for place-based decision-making and problem-solving. Principles and methods of Geographic Information Systems are presented with an emphasis on modeling the Earth and abstracting geographical data; collecting geographical data using modern techniques such as GPS; mapping information; and analyzing spatial patterns and relationships. Practical experience with GIS is provided during the lab exercises using a state‐of‐the‐art GIS. Students are provided free copies of the GIS software. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Blended: M W 2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m. / CALLCOTT 101 & Online / Dr. Cary J. Mock (7-1211)

The purpose of the course is to present the basic concepts and processes as they relate to tropical climatology and hurricanes. It covers weather basics both at large geographic scales encompassing climate processes that relate to the entire tropics, progressing to smaller regional spatial scales such as those dealing with monsoon climates, followed by tropical climate forcings such as the El Nino–Southern Oscillation. Other topics include the structure and characteristics of tropical cyclones and hurricanes, hurricane forecasting techniques, and various aspects of hurricane climatology. Tropical weather forecast discussions, following a format routinely used by the National Hurricane Center and utilizing real-time weather information, will reinforce important concepts learned in lecture.

Independent Study contract and department permission required
Contact the Geography Department for more information:

W 11:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m. / Online — Sync / Dr. Kirstin Dow (7-2482)

This is a capstone course for undergraduate Geography majors and is a requirement for Geography majors for graduation. It is taught only during Fall semesters. A significant portion of the course is devoted to group-based research activities designed to integrate geographic knowledge and to apply geographic skills to real-world problems. Students will learn about crafting research questions, designing a methodology, and carrying out a research plan. Students’ geographical knowledge and skills will be demonstrated through presentations and papers. In addition, students will learn professional development skills, including resume preparation and interview techniques. Tips for obtaining post-graduate jobs in the private, public, and non-profit sectors and for applying to graduate school will be discussed.

Department permission required
Contact the Geography Department for more information:

Contract and department permission required
Contact the Geography Department for more information:

M W 8:05 a.m.–9:20 a.m. / Online —  Sync / Dr. Susan L. Cutter (7-1590)

Most parts of the world are at risk from environmental hazards, although to differing degrees. This course introduces you to the nature, impact, and social responses to environmental hazards from local to global scales. We will focus on the relationship between society, technology, and nature in trying to understand what makes people and places vulnerable to hazards, and which characteristics that make them resilient. In addition, we will examine hazards management and relevant public policies covering preparedness, post-disaster recovery, and mitigation. The major goals of the course are 1) to examine the impacts of hazards on society over time and space; 2) to assess various responses to disasters (relief, recovery, reconstruction, mitigation) by individuals and society; 3) to understand the evolution of and current status of hazards policy; and 4) to analyze hazard data and evaluate the relative hazardousness of places. Grades are based on exams and written assignments.

Prerequisite: GEOG 330 (Geography of Disasters) or its equivalent.

T 11:40 a.m.–2:25 p.m. / Online — Sync / Dr. Zhenlong Li (7-4590)

By integrating GIS and web technologies, WebGIS brings the traditional GIS functionalities such as spatial analysis and mapping into the web environment in a way that was not possible before. This course is intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in Geography or related disciplines to 1) develop an understanding of WebGIS principles, and 2) gain necessary web- and GIS-programming skills and hands-on experience to develop high-quality web mapping applications for use in professional or research settings.

Prerequisite: GEOG 363 (Intro to GIS) or permission of instructor.

T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / CALLCOTT 003 / Dr. Jerry T. Mitchell ( 7-2986)

Geography defines itself not by its subject matter, but rather by its perspective or worldview. Geography is content-driven, graphically rich, technologically sophisticated, and applicable to other subject areas. This course helps teachers and prospective teachers acquire geographic knowledge and skills needed to understand the spatial characteristics and interactions of important physical, demographic, cultural, political, and economic systems. Students enrolled in this course will acquire theoretical and practical knowledge of geographic philosophy and methods and will be able to use geographic knowledge and methods in pedagogic contexts.

Blended: W 5:30 p.m.–8:15 p.m. / CALLCOTT 003 & Online / Dr. Tara M. Plewa (7-5234)

This course covers the technical and conceptual bases of Geographic Information Systems. This includes how GIS is used to perform spatial analysis, analysis of networks, incorporation of remote sensing data, and three-dimensional surfaces. An integral part of this course is the extensive experience students gain using an operational geographic information system. This experience allows the exploration of theoretical topics presented as well as examination and formulation of real-world applications areas as diverse as real estate, crime analysis, environmental protection.

M W 3:55 p.m.–5:10 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. Michael E. Hodgson (7-8976)

This course presents geographical and temporal modeling concepts using GIS modeling languages and techniques. Practical laboratory experience with state-of-the-art software and hardware will be used. Material covered will include the cartographic modeling language concepts by Tomlin, deterministic and statistical models, coupled/embedded approaches for modeling implementations, and calibration/validation techniques. By the end of the course, students should be able to make informed decisions about the appropriate conceptual model, scale of analysis, and GIS implementation strategy for geographical modeling problems. Students will also be able to implement a variety of embedded models using ArcGIS and python/Model Builder. Application examples in the course includes physical processes (e.g. hydrology, toxic-releases, flora mapping, animal behavior) and human-environment interaction (e.g. hazards, facility siting, accessibility, and attitudes-behavior).

Prerequisites: GEOG 363 or equivalent and some experience with a scripting language (e.g. HTML, JavaScript, Python).

T R 2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m. / Online — Sync / Dr. Jessica E. Barnes (7-9945)

This course explores the intersections of international development and environmental change. Students will become familiar with theories of development, issues of environmental change and degradation, and how they come together in particular places through both conceptual and case-study readings. The first part of the course will introduce key concepts, development paradigms, and the challenges of development practice. The second half of the course will be structured around a series of contemporary environmental issues — food and agriculture, urban ecologies, climate change, biodiversity conservation, and resource extraction. We will use these case studies to consider how the environment becomes entangled with questions of development in the Global South.

Cross-listed with ANTH 569.

M 5:30 p.m.–8:15 p.m. / Online — Async & Sync / Dr. David M. Kneas (7-1308)

This course examines events, processes, and historical moments glossed as “globalization.” We will read key contributions from anthropology, geography, and history to analyze globalization and its pseudonyms (from capitalism to neoliberalism), as well as its discontents (from social protest to fair trade organic coffee). We will explore globalization as a centuries long historical process as well as a defined period of the post-Cold War era. Is globalization, as a cultural concept and political-economic process, useful today? How has the concept and its significance changed since the global recession of 2008? In grappling with these questions, we will examine the relationship between culture, power, and economy.

Cross-listed with ANTH 581.

Instructor approval and a signed internship contract required
Dr. Caroline Nagel (7-4970) / CALLCOTT 310

The internship in geography helps students acquire valuable "on the job" experience and develop marketable job skills as well as learn about employment opportunities and requirements. Students serve as interns with cooperating government agencies, or commercial and nonprofit businesses. A special effort is made to assign each intern to a position compatible with his/her interests, abilities, and career aspirations. The course must be taken for a grade to receive degree credit. Grades are determined in consultation with supervisory personnel in hosting agency and are based on the performance of internship duties and the preparation of an internship summary report.

Directed research topics individually assigned and supervised by graduate faculty.
Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission and contract required.

M 2:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m. / CALLCOTT 112 / Dr. Gregory J. Carbone (7-0682)

This seminar will explore the physical processes associated with climate variability and change. Readings will include examination of inter-annual and inter-decadal climate variability from the instrumental record, and projections of future climate from general circulation. These will be selected to accommodate the interests of students enrolled in the seminar and to provide several coherent themes through the semester. Each week, one or two students will present peer-reviewed papers on a climate topic and lead class discussion. Presenters will summarize the topic by highlighting the key points raised in articles, provide a critical evaluation of the work, and direct class discussion. The goal of the presentation and discussion is to leave all seminar participants with a working understanding of the topic’s most salient issues. A second major component of the seminar will be analysis of instrumental and/or modeled data sets. Graduate student standing required. Grades based on class presentations, participation in discussion, short papers, and a data analysis project.

Thesis Preparation research topics individually assigned and supervised by graduate faculty.
Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission required.

Advanced independent research for Ph.D. students on geographical topics to be supervised by a faculty member. This course may be taken for 1–3 credit hours. The specific research project must be defined and agreed upon by the student and the faculty members.

Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission and contract required.

Dissertation Preparation research topic is individually assigned and supervised by graduate faculty.
Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission required.

Note: R = Thursday

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.