Academic Program - Department of Geography Skip Navigation


(For 2016–2017 academic year)

Professors Burnett, Hays-Mitchell, Klepeis (Chair), E. Kraly, Monk
Associate Professors Graybill, Meyer, Scull, Yamamoto
Assistant Professors Ballvé, Loranty

 The discipline of geography bridges perspectives in the social and natural sciences. In addition to deepening knowledge of biophysical and social change processes in their own right, diverse methodological approaches uncover the relationships between humans and natural and social environments. Students are exposed to the full spectrum of disciplinary subfields — physical, human, and nature-society geography as well as geographical techniques. They use integrative explanatory frameworks to grapple with critical areas of inquiry: the geopolitics of conflict, climate science, biogeographies of endangered species, public health, urban planning, disaster mitigation, international development, environmental and social justice, and natural resource management, among them. In exploring these themes, geography students move beyond passive knowledge consumption and towards the production of knowledge themselves, applying their skills and perspectives through collaborative work with faculty, fellow students, and members of the wider community.

The subfield of physical geography is introduced in GEOG 131, Environmental Geography, with topics and concepts elaborated in GEOG 332, Weather and Climate; GEOG 335, Soil Geography; GEOG 336, Biogeography; and GEOG 338, Earth System Ecology. These five courses count toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry requirement. 

Human geography is introduced in GEOG 111, Global Shift: Economy, Society, and Geography, with topics and concepts elaborated in GEOG/PCON 304, Criminal Underworlds: Drugs, Guns, Bodies; GEOG/MIST 305, Geopolitics of the Middle East; GEOG 306, The Geography of Happiness; GEOG/REST 308, Authoritarian Capital Cities of Eurasia; GEOG/ALST 309, Latin American: Critical Landscapes in Development; GEOG/PCON 310, Geopolitics; GEOG 311, Global Urbanization; GEOG 312, The American City; GEOG 313, Geographical Political Economy: Asia in Globalization; GEOG/SOCI 314, Population Issues and Analysis; GEOG 315, Sustainable Livelihoods in Asia; GEOG 316, Environmental and Public Health Geographies; and GEOG/SOCI 318, International Migration, U.S. Immigration, and Immigrants.

Nature-society geography is introduced in GEOG 121, Earth, Society, and Sustainability, and then elaborated in GEOG 319, Population and Environment; GEOG 320, Globalization, Development, and Environment; GEOG 321, Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change; GEOG 322, Ecologies of the City; GEOG/REST 323, Arctic Transformations; GEOG 324, International Environmental Policy; GEOG 325, Water and Society; GEOG 326, Environmental Hazards; GEOG 328, Sustainability and Natural Resources; and GEOG/PCON 329, Environmental Security.

Bridging the three realms of geography are GEOG 205, Climate and Society and GEOG 340, Geographic Information Systems and Society. GEOG 205 integrates the discipline’s natural and social science traditions, exposing its range of research methodologies and approaches. GEOG 340 explores the impact of geographic information systems (GIS) on society.

Finally, students gain expertise in geographical techniques widely used in geographic research. GEOG 245, Geographic Information Systems and GEOG 250, Research Methods are required full-credit courses. A series of elective half-credit methods courses enables students to further their training in specific areas: GEOG/SOCI 251, Media Frame and Content Analysis; GEOG/SOCI 253, Interviews; GEOG 352, Community-Based Participatory Research; GEOG 341, Cartography; GEOG 346, Advanced Geographic Information Systems; and GEOG 347, Satellite Image Analysis.

As their descriptions below suggest, coursework in geography deepens students’ understanding of a broad range of applied and theoretical issues. The major provides a good foundation for graduate work or future employment in both the private and public sectors. Recent graduates have pursued graduate study and/or careers in geography, environmental science, alternative energy resources, population studies, international development, public health, public policy, urban planning, architecture, forestry, meteorology, environmental law, land-use planning, and an array of business applications.

Major in Geography   

The major consists of nine geography courses. In cases where a student is completing a double major and has obtained approval from the geography department chair, one course from the second major may be used to complete the geography major. Two methods courses (GEOG 245 and GEOG 250) and GEOG 401 are required. Students are expected to complete the methods requirement by the end of their senior fall semester. Courses taken off-campus cannot be used to fulfill the methods requirement. First-year students and sophomores often are introduced to geography in GEOG 111, 121, 131, or 205, which may be taken in any order. To qualify with a major in geography, students must have achieved a minimum GPA of 2.00 over all courses taken in the department. 

Minor Program  

The minor consists of a minimum of five courses, at least three of which must be above the 100 level. Students pursuing a minor in geography may elect to concentrate their coursework in the human, nature-society, or physical subfields.

Honors and High Honors   

Students in geography wishing to pursue honors must have a major GPA of 3.50 or better. Students pursuing honors who have a major GPA of 3.70 or better may be eligible for high honors. In such cases, the geography faculty will determine whether the completed honors project is of significant quality to warrant such an award. Eligible seniors who wish to pursue honors must follow the guidelines for honors in geography. The process requires securing faculty sponsorship and submitting proposals for honors research to the geography faculty. If approved for preliminary honors work, students will register for GEOG 490, a half-credit course in preparation for honors work, during the fall semester. If given final approval for honors work, students will register for GEOG 499, Honor Studies in Geography, during the spring term. When a proposal is accepted, two faculty advisers in the department are assigned. At the end of the spring term, candidates for honors will make oral presentations of their completed honors projects to the members of the department. The decision to award honors or a grade in GEOG 491, Independent Study, will be made by the department in consultation with the faculty advisers based on the quality of the honors project, oral defense, and other evidence of distinction.


See “Honors and Awards: Geography” in Chapter VI.

Advanced Placement and Transfer Credit  

The department grants advanced placement credit for GEOG 111, Global Shift: Economy, Society, and Geography, to students with a score of 4 or 5 on the Human Geography Advanced Placement (AP) exam. GEOG 111 credit is also granted to students who achieve a score of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate (IB) Geography exam. AP and IB credit may not be counted toward a major/minor in geography.

Transfer credit should be arranged in consultation with the department chair. Typically, the department will accept for major credit a maximum of two geography courses taken from department approved study abroad programs and/or Colgate study groups. Courses taken from non-approved programs may be eligible for one major credit with department approval. Regardless of the source, the number of non-Colgate courses used for major credit in geography cannot exceed two. To be accepted, courses must be comparable in quality and scope to courses offered at Colgate. Students who hope to transfer course credit must consult with the department chair prior to enrolling elsewhere. Transfer credits may not be used to satisfy the department’s required courses.

Special Programs in Geography

Major in Environmental Geography

This major in affiliation with the Environmental Studies Program (ENST) provides students with an opportunity to consider explicitly environmental issues from a geographic perspective. Courses in geography and a common set of courses in the ENST program are combined in an interdisciplinary course of study that focuses on climatology, population studies, environmental health, urban ecology, environmental systems analysis, geographic information systems analysis, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, and gender and environment. Professors T. Ballvé, A. Burnett, J. Graybill, P. Klepeis, E. Kraly, M. Loranty, W. Meyer, and P. Scull are the environmental geography advisers. See “Environmental Studies.”

Australia Study Group

This fall term study group is sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Program (ENST) and focuses on the social and environmental diversity of Australia. It is led by a member of the geography or ENST faculty and provides a valuable complement to the Colgate-based geography curriculum. See “Off-Campus Study” in Chapter VI.

Course Offerings

GEOG courses count toward the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry requirement, unless otherwise noted. 

111  Global Shift: Economy, Society, and Geography
M. Hays-Mitchell, W. Meyer, D. Yamamoto
We are living in a time of genuinely global change. People throughout the world are increasingly affected by common developments such as the introduction of new technologies, increasing economic competition, climate change, rapid urbanization, shifting gender roles, political violence, environmental degradation, international migration, and the persistence of hunger and disease. Yet, global change is not a uniform process; certain aspects of global change can have very different consequences for people living in different settings. This course uses the perspective of human geography to understand the increasingly globalized world of the early 21st century. We will identify and examine various dimensions of change in human wellbeing by exploring critical demographic, social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental trends. To comprehend the implications of these global shifts, we will examine the dynamics of the processes influencing them and consider the key issues raised by them. This will necessitate taking a close look at how change is occurring not only at the global scale but also in particular regional and local settings, ranging from North America to Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

121  Earth, Society, and Sustainability
J. Graybill, P. Klepeis, W. Meyer
The spatial scale, magnitude, and pace of human-induced environmental changes over the past 300 years are unprecedented. It is essential to undertake reasoned assessments of the complex and interrelated political, socioeconomic, technological, cultural, and biophysical factors leading to environmental changes if society is to manage them appropriately. This course is an introduction to the major environmental problems of resource depletion, pollution, and ecosystem transformation. It explores the effects of environmental changes on society, as well as societal responses to them, and enhances understanding of the causes of these changes from multiple theoretical perspectives.

131  Environmental Geography
A. Burnett, M. Loranty, P. Scull
The objective of this course is to provide students with a general understanding of the processes and spatial distribution of the Earth’s primary physical systems and the ways in which humans interact with these systems. Course emphasis is divided into three areas: atmospheric processes, the spatial dynamics of vegetation and soils, and landform development. Students are introduced to the basic physical processes and interactions that operate within each of these categories, with special focus on the ways in which these factors relate to contemporary environmental problems. This course counts toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry requirement. 

205  Climate and Society
A. Burnett, J. Graybill, P. Klepeis, M. Loranty, P. Scull
Human-induced climate change — global warming — is the defining environmental and social issue of our times. That people are dramatically altering the climate is now the resounding consensus in the scientific community. Potential short- and long-term impacts include biodiversity loss, sea-level rise and coastal flooding, more intense storms, threats to human health, and disruptions of freshwater supplies and food security. But while the global community increasingly understands the basic processes driving climate change and is starting to appreciate the consequences of a warmer world, the coupled social and biophysical dynamics of global warming are complex and the issue remains controversial. This course explores climate-society relationships in industrial and pre-industrial periods, and considers the multifaceted natural and human dimensions of global warming. It also highlights the integrative natural and social science modes of analysis commonly used in the discipline of geography.

245  Geographic Information Systems
A. Burnett, M Loranty, P. Scull, D. Yamamoto
This course focuses on the theory, function, and application of geographic information systems (GIS). The analytical powers of GIS are rooted in its ability to manage large volumes of geographically referenced data representing both physical and social characteristics. As such, GIS has become an important analytical approach in most subfields of geography. This course begins with an examination of basic mapping concepts, geographic data issues, symbolism, and generalization. Course emphasis then shifts to issues in GIS data structure, collection, and input. Once a solid understanding of these GIS foundation issues is achieved, course attention turns to the analytical powers and applications of GIS. These topics are reinforced by a series of exercises dealing with local geographic data. The course makes use of the ArcGIS geographic information system and involves map digitization, geographic data collection (using global positioning systems, satellite imagery, and aerial photography), database management, and spatial analysis.

248  Quantitative Analysis of Geographic Data
A. Burnett, E. Kraly
This half-semester, 0.50-credit course introduces students to the nature of quantitative research in geography and the spatial sciences through the statistical analysis of social, environmental, and spatial data. This research methods course is thus unique within the department in illustrating the analytic commonalities between human and environmental geography. Students develop a critical perspective on issues of measurement of empirical data collected or available to geographers. Students consider the implications for validity and reliability in measurement of social and environmental geographic concepts using quantitative methods of measurement and data collection. Strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to data collection and sampling of social, environmental, and spatial data are demonstrated. Students actively engage in the statistical analysis of geographic data to both describe frequency distributions of social, physical, and spatial characteristics, and to explain patterns of variation in outcome variable using statistical modeling. Students are challenged to undertake hypothesis testing and multivariate statistical analysis as well as to effectively communicate the results of statistical analyses to readers of all subdisciplines of geography. Students who have completed MATH 102/CORE 143S or BIOL 320 need instructor permission.

250  Research Methods
W. Meyer, Staff
This course acquaints students with key principles and practices of original scholarly research. It first emphasizes the key role in research of a clearly formulated question, one that is significant and workable and is grounded in a conceptual framework drawn from the existing literature. It then focuses on the techniques and rationale of a particular method of research, which will vary from semester to semester. Examples of possible foci include statistical analysis, interviews, community-based and participatory research, content analysis, or the interpretation of historical primary sources. In close consultation with the instructor, students will design, carry out, and report on a research project employing that method to answer a question of their own design.

251  Media Frame and Content Analysis
C. Henke, P. Klepeis
This course is crosslisted as SOCI 251. For course description, see “Sociology and Anthropology: Course Offerings.”

253  Interviews
C. Henke, E. Kraly
This 0.50-credit course introduces students to the nature of qualitative social science research using interviews. Interviews are a flexible method of in-person data collection that include a range of structures (from structured surveys to open-ended questions), with varying group sizes (from one to a large focus group), and using multiple methods of eliciting responses (verbal questions, oral history, photo-elicitation, etc). Students develop a critical perspective on different epistemological approaches to research and analysis within the contemporary social sciences, including issues of generalizability and the validity and reliability of qualitative methods. A series of hands-on original research projects provides students with the skills of interview protocol design, sampling for interview projects, interview facilitation, data management and analysis, and professional communication of research results. This course is crosslisted as SOCI 253.

304  Criminal Underworlds: Drugs, Guns, Bodies
T. Ballvé
This course examines the violent networks of the illicit global economy: from guns and drugs smuggling, to human trafficking and animal poaching among others. Drawing from multiple scholarly traditions, it compares the concrete geographical organization of these illicit networks — that is, where and how they become grounded — and asks the following questions: What are the relationships of these illegal activities to legal circuits of power and profit? In what ways are transnational criminal networks redefining the nature of contemporary violence and the meaning of peace? This course is crosslisted as PCON 304.

305  Geopolitics of the Middle East
D. Monk
This course focuses on episodes in modern history when events in the Middle East have had geopolitical consequences. Students examine how things happening “over there” had repercussions (or generated concerns about repercussions) in the international system of states as a whole. In order to pay close attention to the systemic effects of events in the Middle East, case studies privilege moments between major wars that shook the region. Of necessity, the course focuses extensively on the period known as “The Cold War.” Analyses are organized around the careers of three fluids: oil, water, and blood. The first two are quite “dear” in the Middle East and have organized entire political economies. The evidence would suggest that the third has not been considered as precious, particularly by the great powers and would-be hegemons of the modern era. This course is crosslisted as MIST 305.

306  The Geography of Happiness
P. Klepeis
Achieving some degree of happiness is a primary goal for most people. Certainly, a huge industry has emerged in recent years to feed the public’s desire for ways to improve their happiness. There is also a rapidly growing amount of research on the subject. This course starts with an overview of the diverse, multidisciplinary scholarship on factors that may contribute to happiness. But the main goal of the course is to consider themes central to the discipline of geography: how do environmental changes, efforts to achieve sustainable development, and culture affects the geography of happiness? Do people achieve a greater sense of well-being when interacting with wilderness or by exploring nature in their backyards? Does environmental stewardship improve happiness? What role do attitudes about food and leisure play in how happy people are? Students explore these questions via out-of-class excursions, films, a diverse mix of scholarly and popular press readings, guest speakers, and individual research projects.

308  Authoritarian Capital Cities of Eurasia
J. Graybill
Certain spatial and temporal patterns of urban growth characterize post-socialist Eurasia, due to the distinct mark that authoritarianism has left on past and present capital cities throughout this region. This course focuses on understanding authoritarianism in the past and present capital cities of Russia (St. Petersburg and Moscow) and Kazakhstan (Almaty and Astana). While remnants of the Tsarist and Soviet built environments still strongly shape urban character, new urban development and demographic change, alongside other economic and geopolitical transformations, have transformed them since 1991. Rapid and changing patterns and styles of urbanization create a multitude of perspectives and experiences within post-socialist cities as our globalizing world blurs the boundaries between urban spaces, individual lives, and abstract conceptualizations of the East, West, or even “post-” socialist places. This course uses a phenomenological methodology to examine post-socialist cities as sites of socio-cultural and political-economic transformations. Using this framework, students analyze their experiences in photographs, videos, and journals/blogs related to the encounters with spaces and places in post-socialist cities. This course is crosslisted as REST 308.

309  Latin America: Critical Landscapes of Development
M. Hays-Mitchell
This course explores the development experience of Latin America through examination of pressing environmental, economic, political, and social issues that currently face the region as a whole and play out differently across the region. The focus is guided by a critical reading of development theory, paying particular attention to Latin American theorizations and empirical experiences, and concern for the subjects, places, and scales that have been excluded from the presumed benefits of development. Mindful that Latin America’s development experience is historically embedded, students examine the transformation of Latin American societies and environments through legacies of conquest and colonialism, processes of globalization and neo-liberalization, dynamics of rural and urban change, changes in gender and race relations, and transformations of political and civil society dynamics. These issues are grounded in case studies drawn from Central America, the Caribbean, Andean countries, the Southern Cone, and Brazil. The course’s point of entry is contemporary environmental crises and the role of natural and human resources in shaping the development experience of the region. This course is crosslisted as ALST 309.

310  Geopolitics
D. Monk
Broadly defined, geopolitics is the study of “the relationship among politics and geography, demography, and economics, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a nation.” As the study of political geography on a global scale, geopolitics examines the relationship between territories, boundaries, and states in the “closed system” we call: planet earth. But geopolitics is more than an academic field. Geopolitical thought has actually instructed states how to relate to one another in the contest for territory, security, and resources. For example, the history of geopolitical analysis is closely connected to — and has often justified — various imperial projects. As a result, this course examines the relation between the development of geopolitical thought on one hand, and geopolitical events on the other. Of particular importance to the relation between theories of geopolitics and the actual geo-strategies of states has been the development of conflict on a planetary scale. And so, this course traces that relation through the study of geopolitical thought and practice in the course of: imperial struggles in the 19th century, World Wars and the threat of nuclear wars in the 20th century, and new global challenges such as resource wars and environmental security in our own time. This course is crosslisted as PCON 310.

311  Global Urbanization
J. Graybill, W. Meyer
This course is an exploration of contemporary urban geography and academic writing about the city. It introduces students to the ways in which urban geography has played a role, along with other disciplines that focus on the urban, in understanding cities and the issues that surround them. This includes an examination of how cities are conceived, lived, and represented. The course investigates the following topics: What are the various ways that people create, and attempt to materialize, their geographical imaginations of what they want the city to be? What are the ways in which different social groups make claims on space and place, and how does the scale at which these activities occur have effects? What are the critical questions to ask about urban landscapes today? How would you formulate a research proposal on such topics? The course offers a theoretical and practical framework within which to examine the city as a site of socio-cultural and political-economic transformation. In this framework, students analyze how the state, market, and civil society intersect, and how this has changed over the 20th century in the United States and other parts of the world. 

312  The American City
W. Meyer
This course focuses on the restructuring of American cities in the late 20th century and the implications of that restructuring for the well-being of urban residents. Topics emphasized include the decentralization of people and jobs out of central cities and northeastern metropolitan areas, racial residential segregation, inner-city gentrification, urban public service provision issues, the role of new (Latin American and Asian) urban immigrants, and feminist perspectives on the American city.

313  Geographical Political Economy: Asia in Globalization
D. Yamamoto
Contemporary sociocultural and environmental issues cannot be understood without a good grasp of globalizing, yet place-specific political economic contexts in which these issues are embedded. The course aims to prepare students with conceptual and analytical foundations of economic geography with a particular attention to the roles of states, firms, and workers in the increasingly interconnected world. A strong empirical emphasis is given to Asia, although other world regions are addressed throughout the course for comparative and integrative purposes. Questions asked in this course include: what causes territorial economic growth and decline? How do place-specific economic structures influence policies? How are “the economy” and environment interrelated? Does advanced technology make geography irrelevant? Does economic growth produce socio-spatial inequality? In answering these questions, Asia offers a critical empirical arena to test theories and hypotheses, many of which have been developed primarily in the Euro-American contexts.

314  Population Issues and Analysis
E. Kraly
This course analyzes the role of population dynamics in ecological, social, and economic organization and change. Methods of incorporating demographic analysis into scientific and policy research are introduced. Approaches to assessing the implications of population growth are studied. The course considers the relationship of population to a range of policy concerns including environmental change, social welfare, and security; the status of women; poverty and economic development; and race and ethnic relations. This course is crosslisted as SOCI 314.

315  Sustainable Livelihoods in Asia
D. Yamamoto
We are living in the world of growing uncertainty filled with various “shocks” such as natural disasters, financial crises, and development projects, and more insidious “distress” via resource depletion, excessive industrial specialization, and demographic transitions. This course focuses on how households and communities cope with, resist, adapt to, and challenge these large structural “disturbances” in locally specific and ingenious ways in order to take control and enhance their livelihood opportunities and cultural identities. Case studies are drawn from various parts of Asia, with a particular focus on Japan. Although theoretical foundations of this course are grounded in the literature on sustainable livelihood and community resilience in geography and neighboring fields, it is designed for students with various disciplinary backgrounds and interest in Asia. Students are expected to apply their disciplinary skills and regional knowledge to the course project.

316  Environmental and Public Health Geographies
E. Kraly
This course considers patterns of spatial and social distribution of disease and of health and medical resources. Alternative analytical approaches to describing and explaining these patterns of distribution are demonstrated. Selected topics include disease systems and disease ecology, the population analysis of mortality and morbidity, environmental influences on health, and the distribution and accessibility of health resources. Examples are drawn from both contemporary and historical societies throughout the world.

318  International Migration, U.S. Immigration, and Immigrants
E. Kraly
This course introduces students to approaches to the study of international migration, immigrant assimilation and adjustment, ethnic social and economic stratification, and immigration policy formation and analysis. These topics are explored within the historical and contemporary context of the United States and New York. The class considers theoretical perspectives that have been applied to the study of migration as well as approaches used by sociologists and geographers in empirical analyses of U.S. immigration, immigrant populations, and ethnic relations. These analytical issues are considered in detail for immigrant and ethnic groups within New York State and the New York metropolitan community. Finally, students consider the relationships among patterns of immigration and ethnic relations, cultural change, international relations and transnational linkages, and U.S. immigration policy reform. Prerequisite: GEOG 111 or SOCI 101 or ANTH 102. This course is crosslisted as SOCI 318.

319  Population and Environment
A. Burnett, E. Kraly
This course engages students in the analysis of the relationship between historical and contemporary human population dynamics and environmental processes and change. Theoretical perspectives on the relationships between and among population processes and the environment are considered on the basis of empirical evidence and also within the context of political debate and popular discourse. Students engage this topic through analytics skills in demography to measure and model population characteristics such as growth, distribution, fertility, mortality, and migration; and in selected environmental processes including climate and weather, land and landscapes, water resources, and biological resources and biodiversity. Having gained perspectives and skills to address population and environment interactions, students examine a global, national, or regional case study of observed and expected relationships between population processes and environmental resources, processes, and systems.

320  Globalization, Development, and Environment
M. Hays-Mitchell
This course approaches international development via geography’s integrative perspective. It analyzes the concepts of development, sustainability, underdevelopment and post-development as well as the evolution of development theory, policy, and praxis. Particular attention focuses on contemporary issues of sustainable development such as environmental degradation, population displacement, rapid urbanization, the informal economy, transnational corporations, grassroots social movements, and post-conflict development. The course places the study of development within a global framework, considering the impact of colonialism, economic restructuring, the role of international organizations, and the implications of international economic and environmental policy for developing countries. Students have the opportunity to apply the concepts studied to specific developing countries or international issues of their choice.

321  Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change
M. Hays-Mitchell
This course explores how the environment (both physical and social) shapes, and is shaped by, the roles of men and women in society. The course addresses environmental issues from the dual perspective of gender relations and social justice to advance our understandings of the fundamental relationship between human activities and our physical and social environments. To this end, we work across diverse geographies to explore 1) the social relations underlying environmental problems; 2) the ways in which gender, class, race, and ethnicity intersect in environmental issues; and 3) the social and environmental processes that underlie the construction of gender and the life-worlds of the individuals in those ‘geographies’. We bring a global perspective to the issues by drawing out local-global linkages. Case studies are drawn from North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

322  Ecologies of the City
J. Graybill
With half of the world’s population living in and around cities, the needs of urban-based populations and economies dominate non-urban peoples, places, and habitats worldwide. This course begins with an introduction to political ecology, a body of knowledge combining political economy and cultural ecology. Political economy is the study of how different societies are connected globally, and cultural ecology is the study of the relationship between a society and its natural environment. Although political ecology largely focuses on places and cultures of “pristine” or “native” nature in “other” countries, this course turns to urban settings to explore how people understand urban areas and what their relationship to the environment in these areas is. Case studies of specific places (from small cities in upstate New York to global cities in distant countries) are used to learn about urban political ecological issues through readings, assignments, discussion, and interaction with local/regional experts on urban environmental problems. Students apply their knowledge about urban political ecology both collaboratively, in a final project conducted in a workshop-type setting, and individually, in a final term paper.

323  Arctic Transformations
J. Graybill
The Arctic is one of the most rapidly changing regions of the world today, environmentally, culturally, and politically. Rapid biophysical change occurs here today due to climate change, but equally noteworthy are cultural, social, and political transformations experienced by people living and working in the Arctic. People are under increasing pressure to change along with transformation of their biophysical environments, particularly as new actors express interest in the Arctic as space opening up to global transportation, mineral exploration, and trade and ecotourism. Within geography, interest in Arctic phenomena includes grappling with complex issues related to social and biophysical changes in this region, which often originate beyond the region but have specific meaning for the region. In this course, students investigate three vibrant areas of Arctic transformation: cultural transformation occurring among indigenous and local peoples, biological and physical transformation of the environment, and political transformation within and related to the region. Lectures, discussion, and a major research project related to these broad topics form the foundation for deeper understanding of how Arctic spaces are transforming socially and biophysically, and how local Arctic spaces are linked to global phenomena. This course is crosslisted as REST 323. 

324  International Environmental Policy
P. Klepeis
As awareness of global environmental problems grows, questions arise as to how social, cultural, and biophysical contexts define how humans use and manage natural resources, on both community and national scales of analysis. This course uses geographic perspectives on nature-society interactions to consider the decision-making processes of natural resource managers, from local farmers to policy actors at the national and international levels. Case studies in Africa and Latin America are used to explore the environmental (biophysical) and political constraints on the management of natural resources.

325  Water and Society
P. Klepeis, W. Meyer
No natural substance is more vital to human existence or used in more different ways than fresh water. This course considers the natural and social processes (with primary focus on the latter) that shape water use both within and outside of the United States, including physical factors, technology, economics, culture, law, and political systems and ideologies. The focus is on the services that water provides, the causes and consequences of water scarcity, and the ways in which water’s services might be obtained in more sustainable ways.

326  Environmental Hazards
P. Klepeis, W. Meyer
Environmental hazards are threats to people and the things they value. Hazards are a complex mix of natural processes and human actions; thus, they do not just happen, but are caused. This course emphasizes the role of institutions, technology, and human behavior in hazard creation, as well as ways in which society responds to hazards of multiple origins: case studies center on earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfire (natural hazards); toxic pollution and hydraulic fracturing of shale gas (technological hazards); and malaria and invasive species (biological hazards). A key theme explores ways in which society may mitigate the risk of environmental hazards and manage them more effectively.

327  Australia’s Stolen Generations
The intellectual goal of this 0.50-credit extended study course is to address issues of both population vulnerabilities and cultural resilience by considering Aborigines in Australia, and specifically engaging the historical geography and the contemporary experience of the Noongar community in Western Australia. Three themes form the curricular program of the extended study. (1) Students study the historical geography of Aborigines in Australia within the context of European colonization and settlement, federation and nation-building. These issues are framed using concepts of population vulnerability, environmental impact, and cultural heritage and identity at the national, regional and local geographic scales. (2) Students study the impacts of national, regional and local policies directed toward indigenous peoples on Aboriginal families and children, given particular focus to programs concerning part-Aboriginal children, Australia’s “Stolen Generations.” (3) Students learn the ways in which Aboriginal culture and “care for country” has remained resilient across time, space, and generations. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. This course is crosslisted as PCON 327.

328  Sustainability and Natural Resources
J. Graybill, P. Klepeis, W. Meyer
This course uses social science perspectives on sustainability and sustainable development to analyze the production and consumption of major natural resources. The course addresses the following questions: What are natural resources, and how do their geographies combine with those of wealth and poverty, of political power and technological and institutional capacity, to affect the potential for actions towards sustainable development? How is our understanding of sustainable resource development enriched by critical perspectives from the social sciences about the meaning of such contested concepts as sustainability and development, and about issues of equity, power, participation, property rights, and unequal impacts (of both resource depletion and environmental policies)? How can the three dimensions (environmental, social, economic) of sustainability better guide the production and consumption of natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable, in different places and by different actors? The topical and regional focus of the course varies from year to year; it may, for example, focus on oil (or energy more generally), on minerals, or on biological and genetic resources; and on specific geographic areas, such as central New York, Latin America, or the Arctic.

329  Environmental Security
T. Ballvé, J. Graybill, M. Hays-Mitchell
This course is about how the environment poses one of the most important security threats of the 21st century. From an interdisciplinary perspective, the course introduces students to the different ways that climate change and environmental problems more generally are presenting new kinds of security threats. In many ways, greater environmental concern from governments and international organizations over the dramatic environmental changes afoot in the world is a welcome development. But will the “environmental security” framework reinforce global inequalities and maintain the status quo? Or might it mean rethinking the very foundations of what we mean by “security”? This course is crosslisted as PCON 329.

332  Weather and Climate
A. Burnett
This course focuses on the principles of meteorology and climatology with particular emphasis on Earth/energy dynamics, atmospheric circulation, and middle latitude climatology. Elements of Earth’s energy system are used first to establish the basic causal forces that drive all weather phenomena. These concepts are extended into a section on atmospheric forces and thermodynamics, and used to build an understanding of the middle latitude climate system, including middle tropospheric circulation vorticity concepts and surface cyclone and anticyclone development. During this process, students perform several exercises that focus on atmospheric data analysis and forecasting. These exercises make use of numerous online meteorological data resources and culminate in a case study project involving the detailed analysis of a significant weather event. This course counts toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.

335  Soil Geography
P. Scull
This course focuses on the factors that influence soil distributions at scales ranging from a hillside to an entire continent. The course begins with an introduction to soil morphology and genesis as a means to begin to understand the spatial variability of different soil properties. These concepts are extended into a section on soil geomorphology and the role soils play in global change research. Additional topics to be emphasized include soil survey and predictive soil mapping. Throughout the course students perform exercises and/or participate in field excursions that focus on learning how to differentiate soils on the landscape. Prerequisites: GEOG 131 or permission from instructor. No first-year students. This course counts toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.

336  Biogeography
M. Loranty, P. Scull
This course focuses on the factors that influence plant and animal distributions at scales ranging from population to biome. To set the stage for discussing the geography of life, the course first examines the earth’s physical setting. This leads to consideration of the fundamental processes determining plant and animal distributions. The interactions among these processes are also examined, thereby introducing the concept of the ecosystem. The functions of an ecosystem are discussed with focuses on energy and matter flow, population dynamics, succession, and disturbance. The culmination of these processes is reflected in broad-scale geographic patterns. Thus, the characteristics of the major biomes are examined. Finally, because humans and the environment are inextricably linked, this course explores several impacts humans have on the landscape, including fragmentation, extinction, and species introductions. This course counts toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.

338  Earth System Ecology
M. Loranty, P. Scull
This course examines how plants influence exchanges of energy, carbon, and water between the biosphere and the atmosphere. The course begins with an examination of key biological and physical processes that regulate ecosystem carbon and water cycles, paying particular attention to critical linkages between the two. This leads to a consideration of how these processes function at larger spatial scales, and how they vary with time in response to climatic drivers. The land surface energy balance is discussed here as well, because it is inextricably linked with ecosystem carbon and water cycling. Finally, the interplay between ecosystems and climate is examined. This course counts toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.

340  Geographic Information Systems and Society
P. Scull
This course explores the impact of geographic information systems (GIS) on society. The course begins by considering how technological advances in GIS have transformed the nature of geographic data creation and opened up entirely new fields of spatial analysis. Various theoretical perspectives are employed to better understand issues of privacy and ethics as they relate to GIS technologies. Specific topics include locational privacy, participatory GIS, volunteered geographic information, location-based services, the geoweb and new media, digital social/spatial inequalities, and the role of GIS in security and surveillance.

341  Cartography
A. Burnett
A half-semester 0.50-credit course. As an academic discipline, geography focuses on the nature and causes of spatial variation. This focus is wide ranging and includes human and geophysical processes. Although the scope of geography is broad and the interest and expertise among geographers varied, one commonality is the use of maps and/or graphics for spatial analysis and visual communication. This course provides students with a fundamental understanding of cartography, including mapping theory, technique, and application. This objective is accomplished through a blend of lecture and exercises that introduce students to the theory and philosophy of cartography, map and graphic design, and appropriate forms of visual communication. The course begins with an introduction to cartography, including its history, and proceeds through examinations of statistical graphing, map projections, map design, symbology, and thematic mapping. 

346  Advanced Geographic Information System
A. Burnett, P. Scull, M. Loranty, D. Yamamoto
This half-semester 0.50-credit course focuses on geographic information systems (GIS) theory and complex spatial analysis. It is divided into two segments entitled “GIS Concepts and Theory” and “Advanced GIS Analysis and Application.” The first segment explores the evolution of GIS from a set of cartographic and data analytical tools used primarily by geographers, to a more encompassing set of ideas and tools used by many disciplines to examine spatial processes. Included in the first segment is a thorough examination of issues associated with mapping and referencing the non-spherical earth, conceptual models for representing spatial phenomena, and data-quality issues. The second segment of the course focuses on a select set of spatial analytical issues that can be addressed using GIS. These issues include analysis of continuous spatial phenomena (e.g., terrain), model building using multiple sources of spatial data, network analysis, and the integration of remotely sensed data in a GIS. Prerequisite: GEOG 245.

347  Satellite Image Analysis
P. Scull, M. Loranty
A half-semester 0.50-credit course. Image analysis is a method used in geography to analyze remotely sensed data, including both satellite images and data collected from aircraft, in order to obtain information about earth’s surface phenomena from afar. The primary objective is to better understand, measure, and monitor features and human activities on Earth. Most typically, image analysis involves generating land cover maps using multi-spectral data collected by satellites. Students begin by focusing on the physical principles upon which image analysis is based, including the principles of acquiring and interpreting electromagnetic data collected by non-photographic sensors. Students explore the basic tools of digital image processing (e.g. image enhancement, contract manipulation, etc.). This then leads to a consideration of the process of image classification. Lastly, students discuss accuracy assessment as it applies to land cover classification. Students spend a significant amount of time in Geography’s GIS Lab actually performing analysis on remote sensing data.

352  Community-Based Participatory Research
E. Kraly
This half-semester, 0.50-credit course introduces students to the principles and methodologies of community-based and participatory research within the context of the discipline of geography. Students gain exposure to theoretical scholarship in geography that underscores the critical ways that community perspectives inform scientific research concerning space, place, and region. Students reflect upon the ways that geographic research incorporates perspectives and interests of community organizations and members in the stages of scientific research including the conceptualization of geographic processes, generation of research goals and questions, research design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and communication of results. Students actively engage in the process of community-based research by interviewing leaders in Madison County to both learn and assess which community characteristics should be incorporated into an information system with the goal to monitor social and environmental trends in the county and to anticipate emerging changes in communities.

401  Seminar in Geography
The senior seminar focuses on emerging research within a subfield of contemporary geography chosen by the instructor. Students identify and pursue advanced work on topics within that subfield. Senior geography or environmental geography majors only.

291, 391, 491  Independent Study
These courses offer students with suitable preparation opportunities for pursuing individual study under the guidance of a member of the geography department. Permission of both the faculty member and the department chair is required.

490  Honors Preparation in Geography
Students enroll in this 0.50-credit course in the fall semester of the senior year if granted permission to explore a potential honors project and prepare a formal proposal to pursue honors work in geography. Permission to enroll is required and does not guarantee permission to pursue honors in geography.

499  Honors Studies in Geography
Students pursuing honors research enroll in this course in the spring semester of the senior year. The research proposal must be approved by the Department of Geography. Permission to enroll is required.