Fall 2016 Geography Course Offerings

Click on the course title for course description, instructor name, and meeting time.

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 9:30-10:45

Human geographers explore socio-spacial relations, processes and representations of the world in which we live. This course engages economic, political, urban, socio-cultural environmental geographic perspectives to investigate patterns and processes that have come to be associated with 'globalization'. P: Open to Fr. | Past syllabus

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

Instructor: Prof. Jack Williams
Meets: MW 11:00-11:50

Introduces students to how the Earth system works and what makes Earth livable. Through this course you will gain a deeper appreciation for how the atmospher earth's surface interact to shape our local, regional and global landscapes. Many students take this course to fulfill their physical science requirement. Others use it as a gateway to majors and careers in Geography, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Science. P: Open to Freshmen and not open to students with credit in Geog/Envir St 127. Questions about the class may be directed to Prof. Jack Williams | Past syllabus

Geog 127: Physical Systems of the Environment, 5 cr. (P/E/C)

Instructor: Prof. Joe Mason
Meets: TR 11:00-12:15

Climatic regimes, landforms, soils, waters and life forms at the earth's surface in terms of energy-transforming processes, locational patterns, and changes through time. P: Open to Fr & not open to those with Geog 120, 123, 124, or 125 cr or ILS 132 cr. | Past syllabus

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

Instructor: Prof. Morgan Robertson
Meets: MW 2:25-3:15

Provides an exploration of the global and local nature of environmental problems facing us, including issues of climate change, food, energy, economic globalization, deforestation and land use change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity and access, environmental justice, and population. Through group and individual work, this course considers how we should analyze and act on environmental problems as we confront the apparently daunting scale of such issues. The theme of this course is that what appear to be single global environmental problems are actually composed of many smaller context-specific and place-dependent problems or conflicts. Through an interdisciplinary and geographic perspective, these can be understood and addressed at the scale of our lived lives. | Past syllabus

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

Instructor: Prof. Qunying Huang
Meets: Online

A non-specialist course providing an overview of the collection, representation and use of geospatial data. Introduces students to geospatial technologies like GPS, Google Earth, satellite imagery, and GIS, and provides a critical understanding of the strengths and limitations of spatial representations (e.g., maps, images). | Past 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. | Past syllabus

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

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

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. | Past syllabus

Geog 309: eople, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems, 3 cr. (S/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Holly Gibbs
Meets: TR 1:20-2:10

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.  | Past syllabus

Geog 329: Landforms and Landscapes of North America, 3 cr. (P/I/C)

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

This course is an introduction to the evolution of North American landscapes over geologic time. The focus is on some of the continent's most interesting and distinctive landscapes, where the results of tectonic and geomorphic processes are particularly well displayed. Although the same basic processes have shaped all of these landscapes, the results in each case are unique. Each region has its own set of landforms, soils, vegetation, lakes and streams, aquifers, and own "look" and character. These characteristics often have a strong influence on a region's human land uses, environmental problems, and natural hazards. One of the most important ideas underlying this course is that none of these distinctive landscapes can be understood without considering their long-term evolution. Each records a sequence of change over geologic time that can include past and present motion of the lithospheric plates, cataclysmic volcanic eruptions, changes in the stream network, glacial erosion, and major fluctuations of climate and vegetation. | Past syllabus

Geog 331: Climatic Environments of the Past, 3 cr. (P/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Jack Williams
Meets: TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

This class focuses on climatic changes during the Quaternary Period, which encompasses the last 2.6 million years, includes the rise of human civilizations, and extends to the present day. Climatically, the defining characteristics of the Quaternary are 1) regular cycles between glacial and interglacial periods and 2) abrupt shifts in the state of the climate system. Understanding the sources and causes of past climatic variability is a necessary precondition to making informed projections of future climate changes and impacts. The field is changing rapidly and new discoveries appear every week. | Past syllabus | Course webpage

Geog 338: Environmental Biogeography, 3 cr. (B/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Keefover-Ring,Ken
Meets: MW 2:30-3:45

This course takes an ecosystems approach to understand how physical -- climate, geologic history, soils -- and biological -- physiology, evolution, extinction, competition, dispersal -- factors interact to affect the past, present and future distribution of terrestrial biomes and all levels of biodiversity: genes, species, and ecosystems. A particular focus will be placed on the role of disturbance and to recent human-driven climatic and landcover changes and biological invasions, on differences in historical and current distributions of biodiversity.

Course goals include: 1) To learn patterns and mechanisms of local to global gene, species, ecosystem and biome distributions; 2) To learn how to apply concepts from biogeography to current environmental problems; 3) To learn important events and authors in the history of biogeographic study and; 4) To learn how to read and interpret the primary literature, that is, scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. | Past syllabus

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

Instructor: Prof. Matt Turner
Meets: MW 2:30-3:45

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. | Past syllabus

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

Instructor: TBD
Meets: Online

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. Online course. | Past syllabus

Geog 355: Africa, South of the Sahara, 3 cr. (S/I)

Instructor: Prof. Matt Turner
Meets: MW 4:00-5:15PM

This course is an intermediate-level introduction to the geography of Africa. It is a course for undergraduates. While welcomed, no course work on Africa is required prior to taking this course. After a general overview of physical and historical geography in the first part of the course, we will focus on a number of important contemporary issues including population, urbanization, economic development, gender, AIDS pandemic, ethnicity and politics, and environmental change.. P: So st. | Past syllabus

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

Instructor: Prof. Robert Roth
Meets: TR 11:00-12:15

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. | Past syllabus

Geog 371: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing, 3 cr. (/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Annemarie Schneider
Meets: TR 2:30-3:45

Introduction to the Earth as viewed from above, focusing on use of aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the environment. Includes physical processes of electromagnetic radiation, data types and sensing capabilities, methods for interpretation, analysis and mapping, and applications. | Past syllabus | Course website

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

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

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. | Past syllabus

Geog 378: Introduction to Geocomputing, 4 cr. (/I/C)

Instructor: TBD
Meets: TR 9:30-10:45AM

Introduction to scripting for Geographic Information Science. Geoprocessing with open-source GIS utilities. Phython scripting with ArcGIS and open-source libraries.For the purposes of the Cart/GIS major, Geog 378 will be accepted as meeting the programming requirement. The only pre-requisite is Geog 377, which may be taken concurrently. No programming background is assumed. | Past syllabus

400 Level

Geog 439: U.S. Environmental Policy and Regulation, 3 cr. (/I/C)

Instructor: Prof. Morgan Robertson
Meets: MWF 11:00-11:50

This course covers a broad cross-section of American environmental policy by focusing on specific statutes and policy arenas. In this course we will survey the basic elements of American environmental policy and regulation with a particular focus on the specific people, sites and scales at which environmental decision-making happens through primary-source case material. Understanding environmental outcomes in a complex society depends on observing both the structure of regulations and the geographic and social context in which such regulations emerge. This course will maintain a dual focus on (a) the legal and regulatory aspects of environmental regulation and (b) the specific geographic and social features of actual cases in which regulations and policy are used. | Past syllabus

500 Level

Geog 538: The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence and Development, 4 cr. (S/A/C)

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

The humid tropics cover only 10% of the earth’s surface but are home to nearly half of the world's people and half its species.The humid tropics are undergoing rapid social and environmental change, including urbanization and deforestation.We begin this course with an overview of the physical environment of the tropics (what explains such high biodiversity? how will climate change affect tropical forests?). Then we study the forces driving landuse change in tropical Africa, Latin America, and SE Asia.We spend the second half of the course delving into the ecological and social viability of dominant strategies for conserving tropical ecosystems, including protected areas, community-based forest management, and payments for ecosystem services (especially forest carbon payments). This is an advanced class for seniors and graduate students. | Past syllabus

Geog 565: Colloquium for Undergraduate Majors, 3 cr. (S/A/C)

Instructor: William Gartner
Meets: TR 9:30-10:45

The Geography Undergraduate Colloquium will: (1) briefly introduce you to a broad scope of geographic theory, debate, and practice across the discipline; (2) help you acquire the skills necessary to design and implement a geographic research project; (3) enhance your critical reasoning and analytical skills; (4) advance your knowledge of a specific sub‐field of the discipline; and (5) further develop your written, oral, and visual communication skills. The Undergraduate Geographic Colloquium differs from most lecture classes in that participants will meet these objectives by designing and implementing an original research project. The ultimate objective of this class is for you to produce a high quality final project that showcases your skills as a geographer to a potential employer or a graduate program. One often comes to appreciate the study of "earth as home" through geographic practice. This class provides you with that opportunity. | Past syllabus

Geog 566: History of Geographic Thought, 3 cr. (S/A/C)

Instructor: Prof. Keith Woodward
Meets: W 3:30-6:00

This course surveys the major traditions of geographic thought from the early 20th century to the present. Attending to both 'human' and 'physical' perspectives in the discipline - as well as those that blur the lines between the social and natural sciences - we will explore the changing, contested nature of geographic knowledge in terms of its situated, historical contexts and its numerous reformulations in contemporary practice. In so doing, the course provides students with the background for understanding their research in terms of the philosophies and methods, and the convergences and departures that constitute the intellectual history of the discipline in general, and Geography at Madison in particular. | Past syllabus

Geog 572: Graphic Design in Cartography, 4 cr. (P/A)

Instructor: Prof. Robert Roth
Meets: TR 1:00-2:15

This course provides an extended examination of advanced topics regarding cartographic representation, or the graphics, sounds, haptics, etc., constituting a map that are employed to encode geographic information. G572 is a direct extension of the G370 course, but with a focus on cartographic design for the web rather than print, and draws upon research and practice on graphic design, web design, and information visualization. Specifically, G572 integrates theory on both mapmaking and map use (compared to G170 or G370, which focus upon one or the other) and emphasizes design of web-delivered static maps, rather than the design of interfaces for manipulating these maps (compared to G575). G572 is divided into two components: lectures and labs. | Past syllabus | Course webpage

Geog 579: Applications of GIS, 4 cr. (P/A)

Instructor: Prof. A-Xing Zhu
Meets: Online with in-person labs

Principles and algorithms for spatial analysis in geographic imformation systems. A theoretical and practical examination of analytical methods used in GIS, including point, line and polygon processing, interpolation, smoothing, spatial overlay and query, network analysis, terrain analysis, and classification.| Past syllabus

Geog 676: Abrupt Changes in Ecological Systems: Processes and Prediction, 3cr.

Instructor: Prof. Jack Williams
Meets:W 3:30-5:30am

With Professors Stephen Carpenter, Monica Turner, Chris Kucharik, and Tony Ives. This course is targeted to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. It will focus on reviewing the primary scientific literature for a) ecological systems prone to abrupt change, b) the metrics used to detect early warning signals of abrupt change, c) system modeling approaches, and d) identify future directions.

Graduate Seminars

Geog 918: Seminar Political Geography: Spaces of Security (Kaiser), 3 cr.

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

During the past 15 years, and particularly since 9/11, securitization practices have proliferated wildly, as low probability/high impact future events have come to dominate governmental imaginings, planning and anticipatory actions. We have entered, or so we are told, an era of radical uncertainty, with no historical analogs, shifting analytical practices associated with ‘risk calculation’ from archival research to enactments of catastrophe, and shifting from ‘remediation’ of recently occurring news to ‘premediation’ of imagined near-future events. These transformations have led to an increasing reliance on precaution, preemption and preparation, on Big Data and dataveillance, biometrics at the borders, algorithmic war.

Alongside these governmental shifts in securitization practices, there has been a rapid growth in critical political geographic and geopolitical interrogations of these changes, their spatialities, the ways these new apparatuses of security alter power relations, and the resistances or counter-conduct emerging to challenge them. Much of this literature is founded on Foucault’s lectures on security, governmentality and bio-politics, while taking this work in directions unanticipated by Foucault himself.

The goal of this seminar is to work through this literature, to explore the role of space as an apparatus of security, and to critically engage with the problems of securitizing the timespaces of the future, including the issues associated with dataveillance and the emergence of cyberspace as a space of security.

Geog 932: Seminar in American Environmental History (Cronon), 3 cr.

Instructor: Bill Cronon
Meets: T 1:00-4:00pm

Surveys recent and classic works on American environmental history to introduce students to the methods and historiography of the field.

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