Geography and Earth Science Department

Requirements for Concentration: 11 units, including an introductory course (Earth Science and Society 100 or Geography 102); a geographic methods course (Geography 220, 224, or 230); the Senior Seminar (Geography 304); and another 300-level geography seminar. 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 relate to the student’s focus in geography. After declaration of the major, no required courses may be taken NRO.

Senior-Year Requirement: An optional senior thesis (Geography 300-301 or 302) or another 300-level geography course; and 304 (Senior Seminar). Majors must write a senior thesis to be considered for departmental honors.

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

The following core courses are highly recommended as they represent the key areas of geographical theories: Geography 250, Urban Geography: Built Environment, Social Space and Sustainability; Geography 266, Population, Environment and Sustainable Development; Geography 276, Economic Geography: Spaces of Global Capitalism; Geography 260, Conservation of Natural Resources.

Students interested in focusing their geography program in areas such as social justice, political ecology, land-use planning, sustainable development, political economies of globalization, or historic preservation should see faculty in the department to discuss recommended course sequences in geography and related disciplines.

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

Correlate Sequence in Geography

To complete a correlate sequence in geography, the student must take at least six courses (including an introductory course and at least one 300-level seminar) that, together, concentrate on a broad unifying theme—such as one of the two examples detailed below. As an alternative to these two possible routes, a student may decide on another focus in consultation with geography faculty. One of the six courses may be drawn from another department or study abroad, if approved by the geography correlate adviser.

 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 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 230 Geographic Research Methods (1)
  • Geography 250 Urban Geography: Built Environment, Social Space, and Sustainability (1)
  • Geography 252, Cities of the Global South: Urbanization, Spatial Dynamics, and Social Change in the Developing World (1)
  • Geography 258 Sustainable Landscapes: Bridging Place and Environment (1)
  • Geography 260 Conservation of Natural Resources (1)
  • Geography 266 Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development (1)
  • Geography 304 Senior Seminar: Issues in Geographic Theory and Method (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 (1)
  • Geography 102 Global Geography (1)
  • Geography 220 Cartography: Making Maps with GIS (1)
  • Geography 224 GIS Spatial Analysis (1)
  • Geography 230 Geographic Research Methods (1)
  • Geography 236 The Making of Modern East Asia (1)
  • Geography 238 China and the World (1)
  • Geography 242 Brazil: Society, Culture, and Environment in Portuguese America (1)
  • Geography 248 The U.S.-Mexico Border: Region, Place, and Process (1)
  • Geography 250 Urban Geography: Built Environment, Social Space, and Sustainability (1)
  • Geography 252, Cities of the Global South: Urbanization, Spatial Dynamics, and Social Change in the Developing World (1)
  • Geography 266 Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development (1)
  • Geography 272 Geographies of Mass Violence (1)
  • Geography 276 Economic Geography: Spaces of Global Capitalism (1)
  • Geography 304 Senior Seminar: Issues in Geographic Theory and Method (1)
  • Geography 340 Advanced Urban and Regional Studies (1)
  • Geography 372 Topics in Human Geography (1)

I. Introductory

100. Earth Resource Challenges: Food and Farming (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Society, Earth Science, and Environmental Studies 100) As an introduction to earth science and geography, this course combines the insights of the natural and social sciences to address a topic of societal concern. Geographers bring spatial analysis of human environmental change, while earth scientists contribute their knowledge of the diverse natural processes shaping the earth's surface. Together, these distinctive yet complementary fields contribute to comprehensive understandings of the physical limitations and potentials, uses and misuses of the earth's natural resources. Each year the topic of the course changes to focus on selected resource problems facing societies and environments around the world. Enrollment is limited to first and second year students.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

102a and b. Global Geography: People, Places, and Regions (1)

Places and regions are fundamental parts of the human experience. From our hometowns to the Vassar campus, the United States, and the world beyond, we all inherit but then actively reproduce our geographies through the ways in which we lead our lives—by our social practices and spatial movements, and by the meanings we ascribe to people, places, and regions. In this manner, people shape their cultural landscapes and create the spatial divisions that represent global power relations, ideologies, socioeconomic differences, and the uneven distribution of resources. In this course we study the making of the modern world at different scales, ranging from the local to the global—through case studies drawn from the Hudson Valley and around the world—with an emphasis on the ways people, places, and regions relate to socio-economic inequalities. In addition to learning about specific places and regions, we focus on major themes and debates in geography, including mapping and cartographic communication, culture and landscape modification, population and sustainable development, agriculture and urbanization, and political divisions of the globe. The department.

Two 75-minute periods.

111. Earth Science and Environmental Justice (1)

(Same as Earth Science 111) Exploration of the roles that race, gender, and class play in contemporary environmental issues and the geology that underlies them. Examination of the power of governments, corporations and science to influence the physical and human environment. We critique the traditional environmental movement, study cases of environmental racism, and appreciate how basic geological knowledge can assist communities in creating healthful surroundings. Examples come from urban and rural settings in the United States and abroad and are informed by feminist analysis. Ms. Schneiderman.

Open to freshmen only; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods; a one-day weekend field trip may be required.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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

(Same as Earth Science 151) Catastrophic events such as hurricanes and tsunamis and the specter of global climate change affirm the centrality of Earth Science in a well-rounded liberal arts education. This course explores three intertwined questions: 1) How do Earth’s different systems (lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere) function and interact to create the environment we live in? 2) What are the causes of, and how can we protect ourselves from, geologic hazards such as earthquakes, flooding, and landslides? 3) How are human activities modifying the environment through changes to the composition of the atmosphere, biogeochemical cycles, and soil erosion, among other factors? While serving as an introduction to the Earth Science major, this course emphasizes those aspects of the science that everyone should know to make informed decisions such as where and where not to buy a house, whether to support the construction of an underground nuclear waste repository, and how to live more lightly upon the Earth. The department.

The course fulfills the QA requirement and several lab exercises take place in the field.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period.

II. Intermediate

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. Mr. Thibault.

Prerequisite: one 100-level geography or earth science course, or permission of the instructor.

Satisfies college requirements for quantitative reasoning.

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

221. Soils and Sustainable Agriculture (1)

(Same as Earth Science 221) Soils form an important interface between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. As such, they are critical to understanding agricultural ecosystems. This course studies soil formation, and the physical and chemical properties of soils especially as related to the sustainability of agricultural systems. Field trips and laboratory work focus on the description and interpretation of local agricultural soils. Mr. Walker.

Prerequisite: one introductory course in geology, biology, or chemistry.

Two 75-minute periods; one 2-hour discussion session.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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 spatial analysis (calculating patterns and relationships), rather than map design for data visualization. We explore a variety of techniques for answering questions with spatial data, including overlay, map algebra (math using multiple input layers), hydrologic modeling, surface interpolation, and site selection. Issues of data collection through remote sensing and sampling are addressed. GIS involves a more rapid introduction to the software than Cartography does; it is useful to take both Cartography and GIS (preferably in that order) to gain a more complete understanding of spatial data analysis and manipulation. Ms. Cunningham.

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

226. 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 2012/13.

230. Geographic Research Methods (1)

How do we develop clear research questions, and how do we know when we have the answer? This course examines different methods for asking and answering questions about the world, which are essential skills in geography and other disciplines. Topics include formulation of a research question or hypothesis, research design, and data collection and analysis. We examine major research and methodological papers in the discipline, design an empirical research project, and carry out basic data analysis. We review qualitative approaches, interviewing methods, mapping, and quantitative methods (data gathering, descriptive statistics, measures of spatial distribution, elementary probability theory, simple statistical tests) that help us evaluate patterns in our observations. Students who are considering writing a thesis or conducting other independent research and writing are encouraged to take this course. Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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

(Same as Earth Science 231) Quantitative study of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that create Earth's many landforms. Topics include weathering and erosion, landsliding and debris flows, sediment transport by rivers and glaciers, the role of climate in landscape modification, and the use of landforms to document earthquake hazards. Lab exercises emphasize fundamental skills in geomorphologic analysis such as mapping, surveying, interpretation of aerial photography, and use of Geographic Information Systems software. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or 161.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period. An overnight weekend field trip may be required.

235. Water (1)

(Same as Earth Science 235) Sixty to 70% of Dutchess County residents depend on groundwater supplies to meet their daily needs. Industrial pollution and road salt have contaminated many of these supplies, spawning legal actions and requiring costly remediation. Ensuring adequate and safe groundwater supplies for humans and ecosystems requires extensive knowledge of the hydrologic cycle and of how contaminants may be introduced into water resources. We explore how rainfall and snowmelt infiltrate into soils and bedrock to become part of the groundwater system, learn what factors govern subsurface flow, and discuss the concept of well-head protection, which seeks to protect groundwater recharge areas from contamination. Using Vassar's teaching well at the field station we perform a number of experiments to assess aquifer properties, water chemistry, and presence of microbial contaminants. Comfort with basic algebra and trigonometry is expected. Ms. Menking.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or Environmental Studies 124.

Not offered in 2012/13.

236. The Making of Modern East Asia (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 236) East Asia--the homeland of the oldest continuous civilization of the world--is now the most dynamic center in the world economy and an emerging power in global politics. Central to the global expansion of trade, production, and cultural exchange through the span of several millenniums, the East Asian region provides a critical lens for us to understand the origin, transformation and future development of the global system. This course examines the common and contrasting experiences of East Asian countries as each struggled to come to terms with the western dominated expansion of global capitalism and the modernization process. The course incorporates significant amounts of visual imagery such as traditional painting, contemporary film, and literature. Professors from art history, film, Chinese and Japanese literature and sociology will give guest lectures in the course, on special topics such as East Asian art, Japanese war literature, post war American military hegemony, and vampire films in Southeast Asia. Together, they illustrate the diverse and complex struggles of different parts of East Asia to construct their own modernities. Ms. Zhou.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

238. China: National Identity and Global Impact (1)

(Same as Asian Studies and International Studies 238) As recently as the 1980s, China was widely regarded as an exotic, mysterious and closed continent with marginal influence on world affairs. Today, it is a region deeply tied to every consumer and every global policy maker. China is at the center of an intellectual attempt to recast global history away from a long-held Eurocentric model. It also is a vital region in on-going global efforts to combat poverty, injustice, climate change, and achieve peace, economic stability and sustainable development. This course is dedicated to introducing China both as a vast and complex territory with a distinct cultural history, and as a constantly changing place with sustained but varied interactions with the rest of the world. The course critically examines the role of geographical knowledge in shaping our international perspectives. It introduces the history and geography of China, discusses the formation of Chinese national identity and examines its relationships with its external and internal "others." We also engage with the current debates on economic changes, environmental crises, and the international relations of China. Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 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.

Not offered in 2012/13.

250b.Urban Space/Place/Environment (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 250) Now that most of the global population lives in urban areas, the unprecedented size and interdependence of megacities pose pressing socioeconomic, political, and environmental problems. This course focuses on the making of urban spaces, places, and environments at a variety of geographical scales (local, regional, and global). We analyze the interactions of society and space, sense of place and place making, sustainability theory, and governance in urban settings. We study how spatial and environmental justice are related to various issues: urban metabolism, water, and resource use; land use and public space; transit-oriented development; urban ecology and restoration; green architecture and building; official programs and citizen movements for livable cities. Mr. Godfrey.

Two 75-minute periods.

252a. Cities of the Global South: Urbanization, Spatial Dynamics, and Social Change in Developing World (1)

(Same as Urban Studies and International Studies 252) The largest wave of urbanization in human history is now underway in the Global South—the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The bulk of the world’s urban population already resides in these regions, and their demographic dominance is steadily becoming more pronounced. Despite the economic dynamism of China, India, Brazil, and other countries, high rates of urbanization and poverty often coincide. As a result, many of the biggest challenges of the 21st century are likely to arise in cities of the Global South. This course examines this problematic in terms of the legacies of colonial urbanism, world-systems theory and global cities, urban economic growth, social and spatial justice, infrastructure and service provision, slums and informal housing, environmental sustainability and risk, and urban planning and governance. We apply these issues to such cities as Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro in Latin America; Lagos and Capetown in sub-Saharan Africa; Cairo and Istanbul in the Middle East; and Guangzhou, Manila, and Mumbai in South and East Asia. Mr. Godfrey.

Prerequisite: a previous Geography or Urban Studies course.

Two 75-minute periods.

254. Environmental Science in the Field (1)

(Same as Biology, Earth Science, and Environmental Studies 254) The environment consists of complex and often elegant interactions between various constituents so that an interdisciplinary approach is required to understand how human interactions may affect it. In this course, we study a variety of aspects of a specific environment by considering how biological, chemical, geological, and human factors interact. We observe these interactions first hand during a weeklong field trip. Some of the questions we may consider are: How does a coral polyp create an environment that not only suits its particular species, but also helps regulate the global climate? How has human development and associated water demands in the desert Southwest changed the landscape, fire ecology, and even estuary and fisheries' health as far away as the Gulf of California? How have a variety of species (humans included) managed to survive on an island with the harsh environment of the exposed mid-ocean ridge of Iceland? The course is offered every other year, and topics vary with expertise of the faculty teaching the course.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

256. 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.

Not offered in 2012/13.

258. Sustainable Landscapes: Bridging Place and Environment (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 258) 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. We focus on projects on topics related to the ongoing Vassar campus landscape study. Ms. Cunningham.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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 explore 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 2011-12.

266a. Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development (1)

Same as International Studies 266ba) Concerns about human population are integral to debates about matters of political stability, socio-economic equity, ecological sustainability, and human wellbeing. This course engages these debates via an examination of environmental change, power and inequality, and technology and development. Case studies include: water supplies, fishing and agriculture and the production of foodstuffs. Being a geography course, it highlights human-“nature” relations, spatial distribution and difference, and the dynamic connections between places and regions.

Two 75-minute periods.

270a. Gender and Social Space (1)

(Same as Urban Studies and Women's Studies 270) This course explores the ways in which gender informs the spatial organization of daily life; the interrelation of gender and key spatial forms and practices such as the home, the city, the hotel, migration, shopping, community activism, and walking at night. It draws on feminist theoretical work from diverse fields such as geography, architecture, anthropology and urban studies not only to begin to map the gendered divisions of the social world but also to understand gender itself as a spatial practice. Ms. Brawley.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

272b. 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.

274. The Political Geography of Human Rights (1)

Human rights have a deep history and varied geographical origins. This course examines the highly contested making and representation of human rights in regards to their content and emphases, and the various practices and institutions deployed in their name--with a focus on the post -1945 era. In doing so, the course interrogates human rights in relation to a variety of settings--from anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles to social movements championing racial and gender equality to humanitarian interventions. Throughout, the course seeks to analyze how these various human-rights-related endeavors flow from, produce, and challenge spatial inequality, places and geographical scales, and articulate with a diverse set of political geographical agendas. Mr. Nevins.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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

(Same as International Studies 276) This course analyzes the shifting economic landscape of globalization. It covers classic location theories in economic geography, but also the recent trends of industrial reorganization in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Two areas of focus in this course are the globalization of the world economy and regional development under the first and third world contexts. We analyze the emergence of the global capitalist system, the commodification of nature, the transformation of agriculture, the global spread of manufacturing and the rise of flexible production systems, and restructuring of transnational corporations and its regional impacts. Ms. Zhou.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13

282b. Nature and the American West (1)

Nature has long been central to the economy, culture, and politics of the American West. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this course surveys the changing geographies and power relations through which diverse groups have understood and interacted with nature in the region from pre-Columbian times to the present. The course analyzes the shifting, diverse, and ultimately contested landscapes of the West through theoretical perspectives that highlight spatial difference and inequality, flows of resources and people, and cultural representation and identity. Topics include the role of wilderness and conservation, violence, resource extraction, water, agriculture, and urbanization in the historical and contemporary geographies of the American West. Mr. Lindner.

Two 75-minute periods.

284a. Corn by the Gallon, Milk by the Pound (Multidisciplinary Learning/Living Community) (1)

(Same as College Course 284) In this course we examine two of the dominant conundrums and drivers in our food production system, corn and milk. Why are they produced where and how they are? What factors in physical and economic geography drive these production systems? What is their impact on soil quality, erosion, and biodiversity? What is their impact on our national debates around health, environment, and climate? We examine first some of the basic ideas of physical geography that shape agricultural production regions; we then examine some of the ways our focal products been shaped by food subsidy policy. Finally we consider recent transitions in these production systems and some of the debates about where they should go. On at least two weekend field trips we visit a Hudson Valley dairy producer and a conventional corn producer in central New York. Ms. Cunningham.

By special permission. Open only to students admitted to the Multidisciplinary Learning/Living Community for 2012/13.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

The department.

297a or b. Readings in Geography (1/2)

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

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

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (1/2)

A 1-unit thesis starting in the fall semester, with 1/2 unit graded provisionally in the fall and 1/2 unit graded in the spring. The final grade, awarded in the spring, shall replace the provisional grade in the fall. The department.

Yearlong course 300-301.

301b. Senior Thesis (1/2)

A 1-unit thesis starting in the fall semester, with 1/2 unit graded provisionally in the fall and 1/2 unit graded in the spring. The final grade, awarded in the spring, shall replace the provisional grade in the fall. The department.

Yearlong course 300-301.

302a or b. Senior Thesis (1)

Students may elect a 1-semester, 1-unit thesis only in exceptional circumstances. Usually, students adopt 300-301. The department.

304a. 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 Urban Studies 340) Previous topics include:Ethnic Geography and Transnationalism and World Cities: Globalization, Segregation, and Defensive Urbanism.

One 3-hour period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

341. Oil (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Environmental Studies 341) For the hydraulic civilizations of Mesopotamia, it was water. For the Native Americans of the Great Plains, it was buffalo. As we enter the twenty-first century, our society is firmly rooted both culturally and economically in oil. This class looks into almost every aspect of oil. Starting at the source with kerogen generation, we follow the hydrocarbons along migration pathways to a reservoir with a suitable trap. We look at the techniques geologists and geophysicists use to find a field, and how engineers and economists get the product from the field to refineries, paying particular attention to environmental concerns. What is involved in the negotiations between multinational corporations and developing countries over production issues? What are the stages in refining oil from the crude that comes from the ground to the myriad uses seen today, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers, not to mention gasoline? We also discuss the future of this rapidly dwindling, non-renewable resource, and options for an oil-less future. Mr. McAdoo, Mr. Rashid.

Prerequisite: one 200-level Earth Science course or permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

356b. Environment and Land Use Planning (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies and Urban Studies 356) This seminar focuses on land-use issues such as open-space planning, urban design, transportation planning, and the social and environmental effects of planning and land use policies. The focus of the course this year is impacts of planning policies (such as transportation, zoning, or growth boundaries) on environmental quality, including open space preservation, farmland conservation, and environmental services. We begin with global and regional examples and then apply ideas in the context of Dutchess County’s trajectory of land use change and planning policies. Ms. Cunningham.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in Geography, Urban Studies or Environmental Studies.

One 3-hour period.

372b. 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, global migration, and reading globalization. 

Topic for 2012/13b: Lines, Fences, and Walls: The Partitioning of the Global Landscape. This course examines the making of the spatial boundaries that divide and connect people and places across the Earth’s surface. In doing so, it considers the origins and evolution of various types of divides--from private property lines that have marked the demise of commons throughout the world, to the barbed wire fences used to contain people and animals, and the international boundary walls and barriers that increasingly scar the global landscape--and considers various effects of and responses to these phenomena. Mr. Nevins.

One 3-hour period.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

382a. Neoliberalism, Environmental Governance, and the Commons (1)

In an era characterized by many as one of neoliberalism, processes of enclosure, privatization, and commodification have become central to the governance of natural resources and nature-society relations, often in ways detrimental to both environmental and human systems. Yet interdisciplinary human-environment research has also demonstrated the ability of local groups to manage commons, or community-based resources, in sustainable, equitable, and resilient ways. Ranging between these two poles of neoliberalism and the commons, this course examines political, economic, and cultural dimensions of the management of nature and natural resources, drawing on cases from various sites across the globe, including Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Mideast and North & South America. With focus on the contested forms of access to and control over natural resources and their intersection with environmental change and social justice in both rural and urban areas, topics include large-scale resource extraction; markets and environmental institutions; the production of environmental knowledge; conservation and common property; and environmental social movements and resistance.

One 3-hour period.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

384. 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.

Not offered in 2012/13.

387. Risk and Geohazards (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Environmental Studies 387) The world is becoming an increasingly risky place. Every year, natural hazards affect more and more people, and these people are incurring increasingly expensive losses. This course explores the nature of risk associated with geophysical phenomena. Are there more hazardous events now than there have been in the past? Are these events somehow more energetic? Or is it that increasing populations with increasingly disparate incomes are being exposed to these hazards? What physical, economic, political and social tools can be employed to reduce this geophysical risk? We draw on examples from recent disasters, both rapid onset (earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones), and slow onset (climate change, famine) to examine the complex and interlinked vulnerabilities of the coupled human-environment system. Mr. McAdoo.

One 4-hour period.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 121, 151, or 161.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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

The department.