Spring 2015 Geography Course Offerings

Click on the course title for course description, instructor name, and meeting time. Refer to the course guide for section meeting times.

The course descriptions should be considered only as a guide to the course content since different instructors may emphasize slightly different aspects. Past semester syllabi can also be viewed for more course content.

100 Level

Geog 101: Introduction to Human Geography, 3 cr. (S/E/C/Comm B)

Instructor: Prof. Bob Kaiser
Meets: TR 9:30-10:45am

"The 21st century will be China's century!" "Global warming threatens to sink island nations!" "Egyptian military removes President Morsi while death toll in Syrian civil war tops 100,000, casting gains from the Arab Spring in doubt!" "Wisconsin as the global leader in the production of biotechnology and mass murderers!" "The Onion prints its last newspaper in Madison!"

Such headlines highlight the diversity of global changes that daily impact our lives and localities. Geography 101 empowers students to make sense of these globalizing trends and their uneven outcomes and consequences for different communities around the world. It is a Comm B class that provides students with a broad range of critical tools for understanding the diverse cultural, social, political, and natural forces and actors that contribute to globalization today. | Syllabus

Geog 120: Global Physical Environments: the Earth System, 3 cr. (P/E/C)

Instructors: Profs. Erika Marin-Spiotta and Jack Williams
Meets: MW 11:00-11:50am

The Earth is many things: the place where we live, the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, and the home to all known life in the universe. The earth is a system, composed of many interacting subsystems: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, the geosphere, and the anthrosphere. The earth is dynamic: we live in a swiftly changing world, characterized by rapidly changing climates, shifting landscapes, and growing human populations. Now, more than ever, it's essential to understand how the Earth system works, how it affects our livelihoods, and how we are altering the physical environment of our planet.

This class provides a critical foundation for careers in the environmental science and studies by providing an introductory description of how the Earth System works and what makes Earth livable. Through this course you will gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse processes that shape our local, regional and global landscapes. Many students take 120 to fulfill their physical science requirement. Others use the course as a gateway to majors and careers in Geography, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Science. We welcome students of all backgrounds and interests. Questions about the class may be directed to Professors Jack Williams and Erika Marin-Spiotta | Syllabus

Geog 139: Living in the Global Environment: Intro to People-Environment Geog, 3 cr. (S/E/C)

Instructor: Bill Gartner
Meets: MW 12:05-12:55pm

Have you ever thought about how humans have impacted the environment in your neighborhood or hometown? What about in your state, country, or even the globe? Over the past 500 years, the development of the modern world has created numerous environmental changes relating to issues like food production and resource management, as well as numerous challenges such as climate change and rising pollution. In this class you will be challenged to consider the complex interrelationships between nature and society. You'll think like a geographer and look at how global environmental problems have local, political, and historical dimensions. And you'll come away from the class with new solutions to some of these environmental challenges. | Syllabus

Geog 170: Our Digital Globe: Overview of GIScience & its Technologies, 3 cr. (P/E/C)

Instructor: Lecturer
Meets: Online

This class is an introduction to Geographic Information Science (GIScience) and explores the tools and technologies for acquiring, analyzing, managing, and displaying geographic information. This course introduces a variety of geospatial technologies and tools, including geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning system (GPS), remote sensing (RS), spatial analysis, and cartography (the science and art of mapmaking). Although Geography 170 is a non-specialist course, it provides the foundation for various upper-level GIS, GPS, remote sensing, cartography, and web-animated cartography courses. | Syllabus

300 Level

Geog 301: Geographies of Social Organization, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Keith Woodward
Meets: TR 11:00-12:15pm

This course explores the connections between space, social organization, and social change. It will provide you with geographic perspectives on the theoretical, practical, political and affective dimensions of social movements, collective action, and political organizing. It presents a broad engagement with classic and contemporary perspectives, paying particular attention to the socio-political production of space and time and the spatio-temporal production of social and political life. In addition to focusing upon the radical and revolutionary trajectories of political philosophy and social theory, it interrogates the theoretical and practical problems surrounding their realization. Key contemporary social movements and practices of resistance will be explored in detail, as well as the principle social divisions contributing to political oppression and social inequality in connection with the changing characteristics of work, exploitation, global capitalism, autonomy, identity, collective life. Through lectures and discussion, this module will equip students with the theoretical, conceptual and empirical grounds necessary for understanding and analyzing issues concerning social change and social inequality in contemporary societies. | Syllabus

Geog 305: Introduction to the City, 3-4 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Sarah Moore
Meets: TR 2:30-3:45pm

What is a city? Is it defined by population? Density? Tall buildings? Attitude? Relationships? YES – a city is all of these things, and more. In this introductory urban geography course we will examine cities as physical and social constructions created over time. We will consider the ways in which "local" experiences and conditions of urban life are affected by broader social, economic and political processes including industrialization, economic restructuring and globalization.

This course is designed to help you develop: 1) An historically and geographically informed understanding of the ways in which cities are experienced by their inhabitants; 2) A thorough grounding in the key elements of urban geography that is informed BOTH by existing theory and research and by critical reflection on field observation and analysis; 3) An understanding of spatial organization and current restructuring of modern cities in light of the changing economic, cultural, and political forces that shape them and; 4) The ability to explain the economic, political, and social forces that have led to uneven development within cities and metropolitan areas and to starkly unequal conditions and opportunities for residents in these areas. This includes recent economic crises and recovery plans. | Syllabus

Geog 309: People, Land and Food, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Holly Gibbs
Meets: MW 2:25-3:15pm

In this course we will examine how and why humans have transformed the global landscape and the consequences for biodiversity, climate, biogeochemical cycling and other ecosystem services needed to keep our planet habitable. We will explore these land-use change tradeoffs between human necessities such as food production and unintended consequences such as habitat loss, floods, and GHG emissions. We will study different agricultural systems in different regions and tackle topics such as food security, land scarcity, bioenergy and the impacts of agriculture on the environment. The drivers and pattern of tropical deforestation will also be a focus. We will also tackle possible solutions to produce more food to feed our growing populations and demands without destroying the planet.  | Syllabus

Geog 318: Introduction to Geopolitics, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Robert Kaiser

An introduction to the contemporary study of geopolitics, featuring the main concepts and research themes encountered in this field. During the semester we will examine the formation of geopolitical images of the world, where these images come from, and how they have shaped our thinking and politics over time. | Past syllabus

Geog 320: Geomorphology, 3 cr. (P/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Joe Mason
Meets: TR 2:30-3:45pm

Geomorphology is the study of landforms and landscapes and the processes that have shaped them. It is a basic science, driven in part by curiosity about the landscapes in which we live. Geomorphology also has important practical applications, however, and is essential to understanding many natural hazards and many forms of environmental change. An understanding of geomorphic processes is directly relevant to fields such as geotechnical and environmental engineering, sedimentology, soil science, and archaeology. Modern geomorphology is often highly quantitative, but direct observation of processes and landforms in the field is still an essential component of geomorphological research.

In this course, we will generally follow a sequence from process to form, starting with an in-depth look at a particular group of geomorphic processes, followed by discussion of the landforms those processes create and their importance in interpreting long-term landscape development. | Syllabus

Geog 332: Global Warming: Science and Impacts, 3 cr (P/I)

Instructor: Prof. Galen McKinley
Meets: TR 11:00am -12:15pm

The global warming debate is shifting from whether warming is occurring and why, to assessing consequences and policy options. Course reviews milestones in climate-change science, current state of knowledge, climate-change risks, and adaptation/mitigation strategies.| Course website | Syllabus |

Geog 339: Environmental Conservation, 4 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Lisa Naughton
TR 9:30-10:45am

How can we save biodiversity? Slow climate change? What are the strengths and weaknesses of conservation approaches such as national parks, community-based conservation, payments for ecosystem services, carbon credits, cap-and-trade, green labeling…etc. for addressing these and other environmental challenges. This course adopts an integrative approach for examining these and other approaches within different biophysical, socioeconomic and cultural contexts not only in the U.S. but around the world. Beyond lectures, our class activities include role-playing and debate and group exercises -- all based on a problem-solving approach. Students from all over campus are welcome to this class. | Syllabus

Geog 340: World Regions in a Global Context, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Lecturer

Survey of development and change within each of the world’s regions (e.g., Africa, Southeast Asia). Attention devoted to environment and society; history, economy, and demographic change; culture and politics; future challenges; key actors.  | Syllabus

Geog 342: Geography of Wisconsin, 3 cr. (S/I)

Instructor: Lecturer

The geography of natural features and cultural resources of Wisconsin.

Geog 344: The American West, 3 cr. (S/I)

Instructor: Prof. Joe Mason
TR 9:30-10:45am

Regional geography of Western United States: Natural and human characteristics, landscape features, land use issues, perception of area as region.

Geog 349: Europe, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Robert Ostegren
Meets: MW 2:30-3:45pm

A topical overview of people-environment interaction, migration, culture, urbanization, political organization and integration. | Syllabus

Geog 358: Human Geography of Southeast Asia, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Ian Baird

This survey course is designed to introduce intermediary undergraduate students to the human geography of Southeast Asia, including the basic geography and history of the region, important political and theoretical issues, and policies and positionings of relevance for understanding the human spatiality of the region, including the ways that ethnicity and indigeneity are being evoked in Southeast Asia and amongst Southeast Asians in the USA.  | Past syllabus

Geog 360: Quantitative Methods in Geographic Analysis, 3 cr.

Instructor: Prof. Jim Burt
Meets: MW 2:30-3:45pm

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of standard statistical techniques by focusing on the application of descriptive and inferential statistics to geographic problems. We will also examine spatial data and the various statistical procedures developed specifically for this type of data. By the end of the semester, you will gain a familiarity with core statistical concepts and will be able to summarize and present geographic data, perform a variety of statistical tests, and critically assess quantitative analyses presented in your discipline. | Syllabus

Geog 370: Introduction to Cartography, 4 cr. (P/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Robert Roth
Meets: TR 2:30-3:45pm

Geography 370 provides a general introduction to Cartography, broadly defined as the art, science, and ethics of mapmaking and map use. G370—and the UW Cartography curriculum generally—focuses upon the design of maps, drawing from research and practice on graphic design, information visualization, and semiotics, perspectives that you are unlikely to receive in other GIS courses. Specifically, G370 emphasizes mapmaking over map use (compared to G170) and print mapping over web-based or interactive mapping (compared to G572 and G575, respectively). G370 is divided into two components: lectures and labs. | Syllabus

Geog 372: Intermediate Remote Sensing, 3 cr. (/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Annemarie Schneider

The objective of this course is to provide more comprehensive instruction in remote sensing, focusing primarily on the analysis and interpretation of satellite imagery to study the environment. The intent is to learn how to use these types of data to study issues related to environmental science, geography, earth sciences, forestry and resource management. This course requires successful completion of Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing, and topics in this class will draw heavily on information learned in the first semester of the two-course sequence. | Past syllabus | Course website

Geog 377: Introduction to GIS, 4 cr. (P/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. A-Xing Zhu
Meets: TR 4:00-5:15pm

This course offers an introduction to methods of managing and processing geographic data. Emphases will be placed on: the nature of geographic data; spatial data models and structures; data input and management; spatial analytical and modeling techniques, and error analyses. The course is made of two components: the lectures and the labs. In the lectures, the conceptual elements of the above topics are explained. The labs are designed to give students experience in data input, data management, data analyses, and result presentation. | Syllabus

400 Level

Geog 460: American Environmental History, 4 cr (Z-I)

Instructor: Prof. Bill Cronon
Meets: MW 2:30-3:45pm

Survey of interactions among people and natural environments from before European colonization to present. Equal attention to problems of ecological change, human ideas, and uses of nature and history of conservation and environmental public policy. P: So st. | Course website |

Geog 475: Topics in Geography: Research Design in Geography, 3 cr.

Instructor: Prof. Stephen Young
Meets: TR 9:30-10:45

What kinds of issues do geographers engage with? How do they decide which paradigms, theories and methods to use? What challenges do they face in conducting research? This course aims to help you answer those questions and to improve your own research design skills. The main learning objectives are: 1) to design your own research project effectively, 2) to evaluate critically the research designs of others, 3) to develop your appreciation of how knowledge is acquired, and 4) to prepare you for your future geography courses.

By the end of this course, you will have come to appreciate the diversity of methods in geography, the appropriateness of different methods for different research questions, and the standards by which each method should be evaluated. In the process, you will also learn about the broad range of work taking place in our department.

This course satisfies the Geography 565 requirement for undergrad majors.| Syllabus

500 Level

Geog 501: Space and Place: A Geography of Experience, 3cr. (S/A)

Instructor: Prof. Keith Woodward
Meets: TR 1:00-2:15pm

Explore the concepts of space and place from the perspective of learning and everyday experience. Examines how space and place emerge out of fundamental human needs, experiences, and ways of thinking. | Syllabus

Geog 505: Urban Spatial Patterns and Theories, 4cr. (S/A)

Instructor: Prof. Martin Cadwallader
Meets: M 2:20-4:50pm

This course is concerned with the spatial patterns and processes associated with urban areas. More specifically, it involves exploring the following kinds of questions: What is the pattern of world urbanization? Why do some cities grow (or decline) faster than others? What is the spatial distribution (map) of land use and land values within cities? What is the spatial distribution of population within cities and how is it connected to the distribution of land values? What regularities can be discerned in the spatial pattern of shopping centers? How can we explain those regularities? How does the urban housing market operate? To what extent are neighborhoods differentiated with respect to income, race, and ethnicity? How might we describe the economy of a city? To what extent do residents possess mental maps of the cities in which they live? What do such maps look like and how do they affect behavior?

More generally, the course is designed to provide an understanding of the spatial structure and movement patterns within urban areas. The approach is multidisciplinary, with ideas being culled from various disciplines within the social sciences, including geography, economics, sociology, and psychology. Discussions of urban models, and their implications for urban and regional planning, are stressed throughout the course.

The course provides an immediate follow-up to Geography 305: Introduction to the City. It should also be of interest to those students who have completed a 300-level human geography course (for example Geography 349: Europe). Students from related disciplines, such as urban and regional planning, economics, sociology, and real estate, will also find the material to be of relevance to their major.| Syllabus

Geog 506: Historical Geography of European Urbanization, 3cr. (S/A/C)

Instructor: Prof. Robert Ostegren
Meets: T 3:30-5:25pm

Changes in the morphology, functions, and arrangements of towns and cities from the urban revolution in the ancient Middle East to the Industrial Revolution in nineteenth century western Europe and America. | Syllabus

Geog 537: Culture and Environment, 4 cr. (S/A)

Instructor: Prof. Matt Turner
TR 4:00-5:15pm

Geographic approaches to culture-nature relationships, including human perception of, use of, and adaptation to the physical environment, with emphasis on traditional subsistence systems; selected topics from contemporary and historical sources. | Syllabus

Geog 560: Advanced Quantitative Methods, 3 cr.

Instructor: Prof. Jim Burt
Meets: MW 9:30-10:45am

This is a second course in statistical methods, covering techniques widely used in geographic research (both human and physical geography). Topics covered include multiple regression and its extensions, nonlinear least squares models, principal components, clustering and related methods, time series analysis (time and frequency domain), and computer-intensive methods (e.g., bootstrapping). The formal prerequisite is a course in univariate methods, similar to Geography 360 or Statistics 301. | Syllabus

Geog 578: Applications of GIS, 4 cr.

Instructor: Prof. A-Xing Zhu
Meets: TR 1:00-2:15pm

Application and use of GIS techniques in physical and human geography. Includes an introduction to a generic framework of GIS applications, case studies, and student projects. Cases range from urban and regional geography, to marketing geography, and to physical and environmental geography. | Syllabus

Geog 676: TOPICS: Web Spatial Database Development, 3 cr.

Instructor: Prof. Qunying Huang
Meets:TR 9:30-10:45am

Designing databases provides a foundation for GIS functions and web applications, which includes investigating techniques used for designing databases in non-spatial environments and learning the applicability to GIS problems. The course will cover the basic concepts, techniques and methodologies for designing and implementing a spatial database. | Syllabus

Geog 676: TOPICS: Transforming Earth Systems, 3 cr.

Instructor: Prof. Erika Marin-Spiotta
Meets:MW 4:00-5:15pm

Graduate Seminars

Geog 901: Law, Justice and Geography

Instructor: Prof. Sarah Moore
Meets: T 4:00-6:30pm

This graduate seminar will focus on the emerging field of critical legal geography, which comprises several related questions. First, what is the relationship between the law as written and the law as enacted in particular places and times? Second, how are specific places or spatial divisions (public/private spaces, jurisdictions, etc.) constituted by the law and how are these maintained or challenged by social relations in place? Third, to what extent does the law support or hinder struggles over social or environmental justice at different scales? This course will consider the above questions with reference to many subfields in geography and other social sciences including international human rights and international political economy, environmental studies, urban studies, cultural-political geography and socio-spatial theory more broadly.

Geog 918: Political Geography: Spaces of Security in an Era of Radical Uncertainty

Instructor: Prof. Bob Kaiser
Meets: M 4:00-6:30pm

In this seminar, we will explore recent literature in political geography and geopolitics related to risk, security, surveillance and their spatiality. Much of this work draws on Foucault's studies of governmentality and biopolitics, but has taken them in new directions as a result of 9/11 and the ways risk and security have been transformed in what is declared to be an era of radical uncertainty. Most profoundly, it has shifted the calculation and assessment of danger/risk/threat away from reliance on past experience, and toward anticipated futures. In addition to critical research on the anticipatory actions of precaution, preparedness and preemption, we will also survey contemporary literature on risk assessment that employs scenario planning and what Grusin labels "premediating the future" – a means of making present a multiplicity of futures. The focus of our readings and discussions will be on the new spaces of security that are produced by and productive this era of radical uncertainty.

Geog 920: Advances in Physical Geography - Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems

Instructor: Prof. Jack Williams
Meets: T 3:00-5:30pm

Readings and discussion on current literature on climate change and ecosystem responses, past, present, and future. A more detailed description will be available in Fall 2014.

Geog 930: Social Vulnerability

Instructor: Prof. Matt Turner
Meets: F 9:00-11:30am

This seminar will focus on question of social vulnerability (definition and underlying causes) from multiple theoretical perspectives including: human dimensions of climate change, political ecology, food security, entitlement, resilience and critical hazards. While climate and environmental change will be a focus, our goal is to gain a more integrative understanding of social vulnerability to these changes within the broader context which produces vulnerability. Readings not only geography but also in philosophy, economics, sociology, and political science.

Geog 970: Cloud computing for GIScience

Instructor: Prof. Qunying Huang
Meets: M 2:45-5:15pm

The scientific and engineering advancements in the 21st century pose computing intensive challenges in managing Big Data, using complex algorithms to extract information and knowledge from Big Data, and simulating physical and social phenomena. Cloud computing is considered as the next generation computing platform with the potential to address these computing challenges and redefine the possibilities of GIScience and digital Earth. This seminar is organized to present innovation in cloud computing technology to support GIScience applications, address the data and computing intensive issues, resolve geographic problems and to promote advances in algorithms, modeling methodologies and phenomena simulation. The seminar will discuss the following topics:

1. Cloud computing for data and computational intensive geospatial processing and applications
2. Development, deployment and migration GIScience applications onto Cloud platforms
3. Cloud platform/cloud services, such as Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2), Microsoft Azure, and Google App Engine
4. Open-source cloud solutions, e.g., Eucalyptus, CloudStack, and OpenStack etc
5. Geospatial processing and application intra- and inter-clouds
6. Scalability, discovery of services and data in Cloud computing infrastructures
7. Big data management, backup and synchronization on clouds