Geography

Requirements for Concentration: 11 units, including an introductory course (Earth Science and Society 100 or Geography 102); a geographic methods course (Geography 220, 224, 228, or 230); a 300-level geography seminar; an optional senior thesis (Geography 300), or another 300-level geography seminar; and the Senior Seminar (Geography 302). With the approval of the major adviser, two of the required 11 units may be taken at the 200- and 300-levels in cognate fields—such as anthropology, earth science, environmental studies, international studies, or urban studies, if the courses are clearly related to the student’s focus in geography. After declaration of the major, no required courses may be taken NRO.

Senior-Year Requirement: Geography 300 (or another 300-level course), 302. Majors must write a senior thesis to be considered for departmental honors.

Recommendations: Earth Science 151; Field Work (290); and a study-abroad experience.

Students interested in focusing their geography program in areas such as environmental design, cultural ecology, global studies, land-use planning, or historic preservation should see the department for recommended course sequences in geography and related disciplines.

Advisers: Ms. Cunningham, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Nevins, Ms. Zhou.

Correlate Sequence in Geography

Geography offers correlate sequences which designate coherent groups of courses intended to complement the curricula of students majoring in other departmental, interdepartmental, and multidisciplinary programs. Students pursuing a correlate sequence in geography are required to complete a minimum of six courses in the department, including an introductory course and at least one 300-level seminar. The two suggested concentrations are outlined in detail below:

Environmental Land-Use Analysis: The correlate sequence in geography with a concentration in land-use analysis is intended for students interested in Environmental Studies. It offers a succinct program in physical geography for students interested in science education, urban planning, or environmental policy. With the consent of the adviser, one unit of earth science may be selected. The six courses taken for this concentration may be selected from the following recommended list:

Geography 100 Earth Resource Challenges (1)

Geography 100 Earth Resource Challenges (1)

Geography 102 Global Geography (1)

Earth Science 111 Earth Science and Environmental Justice (1)

Earth Science 151 Earth, Environment, and Humanity (1)

Geography 220 Cartography: Making Maps with GIS (1)

Geography 224 GIS: Spatial Analysis (1)

Geography 228 Research Methods (1/2)

Geography 230 Spatial Statistics (1/2)

Geography 250 Urban Geography (1)

Geography 256 Environmental Perception and Conservation History (1)

Geography 260 Conservation of Natural Resources (1)

Geography 266 Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development (1)

Geography 302 Senior Seminar (1)

Geography 356 Environment and Land-Use Planning (1)

Geography 372 Topics in Human Geography (1)

Society and Space: The correlate sequence in geography with a concentration in regional analysis is intended for students interested in area studies. It offers a succinct program in world regional geography for students interested in social studies education, international studies, or foreign language or area study. The six courses taken from this concentration may be selected from the following recommended list:

Geography 100 Earth Resource Challenges Geography 102 Global

Geography (1)

Geography 220 Cartography: Making Maps with GIS (1)

Geography 224 GIS Spatial Analysis (1)

Geography 228 Research Methods (1/2)

Geography 230 Spatial Statistics (1/2)

Geography 236 The Making of Modern East Asia (1)

Geography 238 China and the World (1)

Geography 240 Latin America (1)

Geography 242 Brazil (1)

Geography 246 American Landscapes (1)

Geography 248 The U.S.-Mexico Border (1)

Geography 266 Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development (1)

Geography 270 Political Geography (1)

Geography 272 Geographies of Mass Violence (1)

Geography 276 Economic Geography (1)

Geography 302 Senior Seminar (1)

Geography 340 Advanced Urban and Regional Studies (1)

Geography 372 Topics in Human Geography (1)

I. Introductory

100[a] and b. Earth Resource Challenges (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Society 100 and Earth Science 100)

102a and b. Global Geography: Place-Making and the Modern World (1)

Places, as geographical locations and sites of significance, are a fundamental part of the human experience. This introduction to human geography examines how people make places through social practices that ascribe meanings to environments at scales ranging from the local to the global. Geographical case studies illustrate how human beings shape cultural landscapes and create spatial divisions on the earth’s surface that in turn reflect and reproduce power relations, ideologies, socioeconomic differences, and resource distributions. Topics for study may include mapping and cartographic communication, population dynamics and spatial distributions, land-use and settlement patterns, urbanization and global cities, global political divisions, regional economic development, and cultural landscapes from the Hudson Valley and around the world. The department.

Two 75-minute periods.

[110b. Asian Studies Study Trip] (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 110)

Not offered in 2008/09.

111a and b. Earth Science and Environmental Justice (1)

(Same as Earth Science 111)

151a. Earth, Environment, and Humanity (1)

(Same as Earth Science 151)

II. Intermediate

The prerequisite for 200-level courses is 1 unit of introductory geography.

220a. Cartography: Making Maps with GIS (1)

(Same as Earth Science 220) Cartography, the science and art of map making, is integral to the geographer’s craft. This course uses GIS to make thematic maps and to acquire and present data, including data fitting students’ individual interests. In addition, we explore the culture, politics, and technology of historic cartography, and we examine techniques in using maps as rhetoric and as political tools. Throughout the course, we focus on issues of clear, efficient, and intentional communication through graphic presentation of data. Thus, the course integrates problems of graphic design and aesthetics with strategies of manipulating quantitative data. ArcGIS is used in labs for map production and data analysis. Ms. Cunningham.

Prerequisite: one 100-level geography or earth science course, or instructor’s permission.

Satisfies college requirements for quantitative reasoning.

Two 75-minute periods; one 2-hour laboratory.

[221a. Soils and Terrestrial Ecosystems] (1)

(Same as Earth Science 221)

Not offered in 2008/09 .

224b. GIS: Spatial Analysis (1)

(Same as Earth Science 224) Geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly important and widespread packages for manipulating and presenting spatial data. While this course uses ArcGIS, the same software as Cartography, the primary focus here is the analytical tools provided in the software, rather than issues of design and presentation. Spatial analysis involves a variety of techniques, including overlay, map algebra, hydrologic modelling, surface interpolation, and site selection. Issues of data collection through remote sensing and sampling are addressed. It is advised that students consider taking Cartography (Geography 220) before taking GIS, unless students have some experience with computer software and data. Ms. Cunningham.

Two 75-minute periods; two-hour laboratory.

[226a. Remote Sensing] (1/2)

(Same as Earth Science 226) Remote sensing is an increasingly important source of data for mapping and modeling earth systems. Surface features such as elevation, hydrography, soil moisture, greenness, snow cover, and urban growth are among the many factors that are monitored and measured by satellite‑borne sensors. A basic understanding of remotely sensed data is, therefore, of great value to students of geography, earth science, environmental science, and other fields. This 6‑week course introduces the student to data collection from satellite sensors, the nature and structure of remotely sensed data, and methods of using and analyzing these data. The course uses a combination of lecture and laboratory to introduce and practice the methods of using remotely sensed data. Ms. Cunningham.

One 3-‘hour period for six weeks of the semester.

Not offered in 2008/09 .

[228a. Research Methods] (1/2)

This course focuses on basic research skills widely used in geography and other social sciences. Topics include: Formulating a research question or hypothesis, research design and data collection. Students examine major research and methodological papers in the discipline, design a mini-empirical research project, and conduct pilot investigations through surveys or interviews. Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods during the first six weeks of the semester.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[230b. Spatial Statistics] (1/2)

This course introduces elementary statistics for spatial analysis. Topics include: descriptive statistics, measures for spatial distribution, and elementary probability theory and testing. Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods during the first six weeks of the semester

Not offered in 2008/09.

231a. Geomorphology: Surface Processes and Evolution of Landforms (1)

(Same as Earth Science 231)

[236a. The Making of Modern East Asia] (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 236). East Asia, the hearth of the oldest continuous civilization of the world, is now among the most dynamic power centers in the global economy. This course examines the common and contrasting experiences of East Asian countries as each struggled to come to terms with the expansion of global capitalism and with a western dominated global political order since the nineteenth century. We focus especially on their post-World War II experiences. Major themes include impacts of western and Japanese imperialism, the postwar economic rise of Japan, authoritarianism and democratization in newly industrialized regions, and the political and economic transformation of China. Attention is also given to issues of the environment and urbanization as part of East Asian modernization processes. Ms. Zhou.

Prerequisite: at least one 100-level course in geography or Asian Studies.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2008/09 .

238b. China and the World (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 238)As China emerges into a global superpower, academic and public debates are intensifying on the past and future of China’s relationship with the rest of the world. This course systematically examines a number of the most prominent issues concerning China’s rise. We engage in the contemporary debate on the western conceptualization of China in the historical world system: was the traditional China an insular empire with a marginal influence on world history, or one of the key contributors to global trade and cultural exchange? Was China’s sharp decline in the nineteenth and early twentieth century an inevitable outcome of modernization encountering prolonged cultural weaknesses, or a transitory setback due to western imperialism? Most attention, however, is paid to contemporary questions about China’s industrialization, international relations, and environmental implications. For example, does the label “made-in-China,” conspicuous to today’s consumers, victimize the Chinese in the global division of labor, or indicate potential for industrial preeminence. Will China’s inroads into Africa and Latin America become a new source of external exploitation and injustice for developing countries, or promise alternatives to western dominance? How will China’s environmental trajectory affect the rest of the world? Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods.

242b. Brazil: Society, Culture, and Environment in Portuguese America (1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 242 and Africana Studies 242). Brazil, long Latin America’s largest and most populous country, has become an industrial and agricultural powerhouse with increasing political-economic clout in global affairs. This course examines Brazil’s contemporary evolution in light of the country’s historical geography, the distinctive cultural and environmental features of Portuguese America, and the political-economic linkages with the outside world. Specific topics for study include: the legacies of colonial Brazil; race relations, Afro-Brazilian culture, and ethnic identities; issues of gender, youth, violence, and poverty; processes of urban-industrial growth; regionalism and national integration; environmental conservation and sustainability; continuing controversies surrounding the occupation of Amazonia; and long-run prospects for democracy and equitable development in Brazil. Mr. Godfrey.

Two 75-minute periods.

[246. The American Landscape: From Wilderness to Walmart] (1)

The cultural landscape of the United States and Canada is examined through studies in historical, physical, regional, and social geography. The natural environment of North America, as perceived in early descriptions and as a formative basis for resource and economic development, is studied with relation to historical settlement patterns, agriculture, urbanization, and transportation. Regional diversity is shown both through physical habitat differentiation and cultural-ethnic patterns. Spaces of production and consumption, including the metropolis, suburbia and ex-urban, are examined with an emphasis on the sociospatial relations of race, class, gender and ethnicity. The department.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[248b. The US-Mexico Border: Region, Place, and Process] (1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 248) The United States-Mexico border region is the site of the only land boundary uniting and dividing the so-called First and Third worlds from one another. Barely older than 150 years, the border has become a highly significant bi-national region in terms of economic development, demographic growth, and ethno-cultural exchange. It has also evolved from an area of relatively low importance in the national imagination of the United States (and, to a lesser extent, of Mexico) to one of great significance. Yet, the making and the regulating of the international boundary and the territorial conquest and dispossession it involved have long been central to nation-state-making in both countries, as well as to the production of various social categories—especially race, ethnicity, citizenship, and nationality, but also class, gender, and sexual orientation. This course investigates these developments, while illustrating that the boundary has profound effects on people’s lives throughout North America as it embodies a set of processes and practices that help define, unite and divide people and places. Mr. Nevins.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2008/09 .

[250b. Urban Geography: Built Environment, Social Space, and (1)

Sustainability]

(Same as Urban Studies 250) Focusing on the uneven geographical development of global metropolitan regions, this course investigates the socio-spatial processes shaping urban built environments, social areas, and patterns of sustainability. Specific topics for study include the historical geography of urban location, city form, and land-use patterns; the contemporary restructuring of global cities; problems of suburban sprawl, edge cities, and growth management; urban renewal, redevelopment, and gentrification; spatialities of gender, race, ethnicity, and culture; urban design, cognitive geography, and public space; and movements for the “New Urbanism” and livable cities. Case studies provide theoretical tools to “read” the urban landscape as an urban geographer. Mr. Godfrey.

Two 75-minute sessions.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[256b. Environmental Perception and Conservation History] (1)

An exploration of the complex interrelationships and interpretations of nature, society, space, and place. The history of the United States and international conservation and environmental movements, including legislation and NGOs, is examined through literary, philosophical, and scientific works on conservation, wilderness, preservation, ethics, and aesthetics. In addition, a focus on environmental issues and cultural landscapes of the Hudson River Valley includes field trips to representative sites throughout the bioregion. The department.

Not offered in 2008/09 .

[260a. Conservation of Natural Resources] (1)

(Same as Earth Science 260) Natural resources are perennially at the center of debates on sustainability, planning, land development, and environmental policy. The ways we conceptualize and understand resources are as important to understanding these issues as their actual distributions. This course provides a geographic perspective on global ecology and resource management, using local examples to provide deeper experience with resource debates. The focus of the course this year is forest resources: biodiversity, forest health, timber resources, and forest policy, and the ways people have struggled to make a living in forested ecosystems. We discuss these issues on a global scale (tropical timber piracy, boreal forests and biodiversity), and we expIore them locally in the Adirondacks. This course requires that students spend October Break on a group trip to the Adirondacks. Students must be willing to spend long, cold days outside and to do some hiking (unless special permission is arranged with the instructor). Ms. Cunningham.

Two 75-minute periods.

Students wishing to register under Earth Science must have had at least one previous earth science course.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[266b. Population, Environment and Sustainable Development] (1)

(Same as International Studies 266) This course examines major issues, myths, theoretical debates, and real-life controversies regarding population change and the environment from a political-ecology perspective. Political ecology studies the changing physical environment through the lens of political-economic institutions and social discourse. The first part of this course visits the theoretical debates on population and environment through demographic analysis and critical evaluation of healthcare and family planning policies. The latter half offers lessons on issues related to food scarcity and security, environmental and social movements in many developing regions such as China, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Mr. Nevins.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2008/09.

272a. Geographies of Mass Violence (1)

Violence has been an integral part of the making of landscapes, places, and the world political map. This course examines theories of violence, explanations of why it happens where it does, and how mass violence has come to shape local, national, and international geographies. In doing so, it analyzes how violence becomes embedded in geographical space and informs social relations. The course draws upon various case studies, including incidents of mass violence in Rwanda, Indonesia, East Timor, Guatemala, and the United States. Mr. Nevins.

Two 75-minute periods.

[276b . Economic Geography: Spaces of Global Capitalism] (1)

(Same as International Studies 276) The spatial patterns and dynamics of the world economy are examined in diverse industrial and regional settings. The focus is on the spatial distribution of economic activities, the use of resources, and development of regional economies. Topics may include the global shift of manufacturing activities, the spatial organization of post-Fordist production, the spread and impact of agribusiness, globalization of services, foreign direct investment and multi-national corporations, and the interdependency between developed and developing economies. Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2008/09.

282b. US-Mexico Border: Nation, God, and Human Rights in (1)

Arizona-Sonora

(Same as American Culture 282 and Latin American and Latino/a Studies 282) Mr. Nevins, Mr. Simpson.

283a. Geographies of Food and Farming (1)

Farming and food production connect us to the landscapes in which we live, and they shape the geographies of our communities. Increasingly, farming and food also connect us to processes of globalization. The world produces more food than ever before, yet factors such as centralization of production and competition from biofuels lead to food riots in developing regions and continuing losses of rainforests from Brazil to Indonesia. One key strategy for understanding these connections is to examine the biogeographic patterns that shape food production. In this course, we focus first on the physical environmental factors (including water resources, climate patterns, and biodiversity) that characterize agricultural regions of North America. As part of this discussion, we consider ethical, political, and cultural aspects of food production. We then use these frameworks to examine global production and exchanges of food. We use case studies, such as land conversion in Brazil and Indonesia, to understand prominent debates about food and farming today. Ms. Cunningham.

284b. US Militarism at Home and Abroad (1)

(Same as American Culture 284 and Sociology 284) Mr. Hoynes, Mr.Nevins.

288b. Sustainable Landscapes:Bridging Place and Environment (1)

Geographers have long understood the relationship of aesthetic landscapes and place to include concepts of identity, control, and territory. Increasingly we consider landscape aesthetics to involve environmental quality as well. How do these contrasting sets of priorities meet in the process of landscape design and analysis? In this course we begin by examining regional and local histories of landscape design and their relationship to concepts of place, territory, and identity. We then consider landscape ecological approaches to marrying aesthetic and environmental priorities in landscapes. We investigate local issues such as watershed quality, native plantings, and runoff management in order to consider creative ways to bridge these once-contrary approaches to understanding the landscapes we occupy. In 2009 we focus projects on topics related to the ongoing Vassar campus landscape study. Ms. Cunningham.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

The department.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Open to qualified students in other disciplines who wish to pursue related inde-pendent work in geography. The department.

III. Advanced

300b. Senior Thesis (1)

The department.

302a. Senior Seminar: Issues in Geographic Theory and Method (1)

A review of the theory, method, and practice of geographical inquiry. The seminar traces the history of geographic thought from early episodes of global exploration to modern scientific transformations. The works and biographies of major contemporary theorists are critically examined in terms of the changing philosophies of geographic research. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are discussed, along with scientific, humanist, radical, feminist, and other critiques in human geography. Overall, alternative conceptions of geography are related to the evolution of society and the dominant intellectual currents of the day. The student is left to choose which approaches best suits his or her own research. The seminar culminates in the presentation of student research proposals. Mr. Nevins.

One 2-hour period.

340a and b. Advanced Urban and Regional Studies (1)

(Same as Latin American Studies 340 and Urban Studies 340) This seminar examines selected urban and regional issues at various geographical scales, ranging from the local to the global. Topics may change from year to year, in which case the seminar can be repeated for credit. Previous seminar topics include culture clash in Latin America; Central Asia in transition; Art, Ethnicity, and Environment in the American Southwest; the Asian diaspora; and Mega-Cities of Latin America.

Topic for 2008/09a: Arctic Environmental Change. Arctic environments define a geographic region that is important to understand both in terms of its distinctive biogeographic patterns and functions and because it is subject to some of the most dramatic environmental alterations associated with global climate change. This course takes a biogeographic and landscape ecological approach to examining how this region contributes to global biodiversity, and why it contributes disproportionately to the regulation and change of the earth’s climate system. What characteristics define these environments and make them especially vulnerable to positive feedbacks in a changing climate? How might climate changes alter landscape structure and composition, and what are the implications of these changes for the distribution of plants and animals in the region? What are global implications of these changes? We examine current literature and data to explore these questions about ongoing and anticipated environmental change in arctic regions. Some background in understanding earth systems or climate change is helpful. Ms. Cunningham.

(Same as Urban Studies 340b) Topic for 2008/09b: Main Street and Mainframes: Landscape and Social Change in Poughkeepsie, New York and the Mid-Hudson River Valley. The history of small urban centers throughout America has been one of eras of growth and decline in response to local, regional, and national social and economic forces. In this seminar we examine the local urban realm as a useful model for such urban trends as the changing nature of ethnic neighborhood composition during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; industrial expansion and later downsizing, especially as reflected at IBM; growth and decline of central business district functions such as retail on Main Street in the late twentieth century; developments in transportation modes and facilities, such as the auto-centered suburban landscape and shopping malls; public and private housing; and local responses to federal Model Cities and urban renewal programs. Local examples are also related to other cities in the region, especially with regard to twenty-first century efforts at revitalization. We take field trips throughout Poughkeepsie and its suburbs to study the changing cultural landscape. Mr. Flad.

One three-hour period.

[341b. Oil] (1)

(Same as Earth Science 341 and Environmental Studies 341)

Not offered in 2008/09 .

[356b. Environment and Land Use Planning] (1)

(Same as Earth Science 356 and Environmental Studies 356) This seminar focuses on land-use issues such as open-space planning, conservation, agriculture, and social effects of urban planning policies. The topic of the course this year is farmland preservation. We examine the economics, demographics, landscape values, and social, environmental, and planning concerns surrounding both the disappearance of farmland in the mid-Hudson Valley and ongoing efforts to slow the loss of working farms in the area. Ms. Cunningham.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in Geography, Earth Science, or Environmental Studies. Students wishing to register under earth science must have had at least one previous earth science course.

One 3-hour period.

Not offered in 2008/09.

372a. Topics in Human Geography (1)

This seminar focuses on advanced debates in the socio- spatial organization of the modern world. The specific topic of inquiry varies from year to year. Students may repeat the course for credit if the topic changes. Previous seminar themes include the urban-industrial transition, the urban frontier, urban poverty, cities of the Americas, segregation in the city, and global migration.

Topic for 2008/09b: Reading Globalization: Contexts and Theories of Economic Development. Tracing the lineage of globalization debates on economic development, this seminar discusses landmark works on the origins of global capitalism and analyzes different conceptualizations of global interdependency and dominance. We also examine academic paradigms developed from the experiences in Latin America and East Asia. Recognizing that globalization debate is multidisciplinary in nature, the course studies each case in its specific geographical and historical contexts so as to expose the limits to often-presumed universality. Ms. Zhou.

Prerequisite: Geography 276 or comparable courses in other departments, and at least one regional course on a developing region.

One three-hour period.

382b. Gender and Geography in the Middle East and North Africa (1)

(Same as Women’s Studies 382). Questions of gender in the Middle East and North Africa, and women’s rights and mobility in particular, have been central to colonial, nationalist, modernization and religious revivalist projects alike. How we come to understand these various projects is partly mediated by dominant representations and discourses about the people and societies in question. In this course, we analyze representations of women in the Middle East and North Africa, past and present, in an effort to develop a more critical approach to understanding women’s lives in the region, and the way that their lives have been put to political use. Through an examination of academic as well as popular literature, we examine the importance of discourses on women’s rights and women’s use of space in colonial, post-colonial and contemporary contexts. We also consider specific cases of the intersection of gender and urban spaces, as well as gender and violence, as a means of gaining greater insight into the ways that Middle Eastern and North African women’s lives have changed with changes in spatial organization at various scales.

384a. Community GIS (1)

Geographers contribute to vitality and equity in their communities by examining the spatial dynamics of socioeconomic and environmental problems. Strategies used to interrogate these problems include mapping and geographic information systems (GIS), or computer-aided mapping and spatial analysis. For example, community access to transportation and housing, differential access to food or health care, or distributions of social services are often best understood in terms of mapped patterns. These patterns both reflect and influence the social dynamics of a community. In addition to affecting quality of life, these issues give insights into the ways we decide as a society to allocate resources. In this course we take on subjects of concern in the local area and use mapping and spatial data to examine them. Projects may involve work with groups in the Poughkeepsie area as well as library research, readings, some GIS work. Course activities and projects vary according to subjects studied. Because this course focuses on collaborative research projects, rather than on the technology, GIS and cartography are useful but not prerequisite courses. The department.

One 3-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)