Geography Courses

Course Search & Enroll tool contains the current semester’s course offerings.

100-Level Courses:

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101 - Introduction to Human Geography

Introduces students to the field of human geography by exploring the spaces, patterns, and processes that contribute to local and global change. To do this we explore the relations between space and social life associated with globalization through the use of a series of human geographic lenses: economic, sociocultural, population, environmental, urban, and political geography. Similarly, we will study global change to better understand human geography. Students will gain an appreciation for interpreting data and trends with a focus on space and scale; the importance of place, environment, boundaries, territory, and other geographic elements important to human experience; and mapping and other geographic tools. 

120 - Introduction to the Earth System

We live in a swiftly changing world characterized by rapidly changing climates, shifting landscapes, and growing human populations. Now, more than ever, it is essential to understand how the earth system works, how it affects our livelihoods, and how we are altering it. This course provides a critical foundation for understanding just that. Through this course students gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse processes that shape our local, regional, and global landscapes. Many students take this course to fulfill the physical science requirement. Others use it as a gateway to majors and careers in Geography, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Science.

127 - Physical Systems of the Environment

An introduction to physical geography, the study of natural environmental systems, emphasizing how these systems produce local and global patterns of weather and climate, vegetation, soils, and landforms. The course has three objectives: 1) To provide a basic understanding of the most important processes shaping the physical environment in which we live; 2) To convince you of the dynamic nature of that environment and the degree to which it has changed in the past and is changing at present, in part because of human activity; and 3) To provide you with important tools that you can use, with background knowledge from this course, to explore the climate, vegetation, soils, and landforms of particular places and how they are changing over time. The course has separate lecture and lab components, which are coordinated so the labs provide you with a more in-depth understanding of many of the same basic concepts discussed in lecture, along with new material.

139 - Global Environmental Issues

Explores the global and local nature of environmental problems facing humanity, including climate change, food and energy scarcity, deforestation, biodiversity loss, environmental justice, and population growth. Through group and individual work, students will learn to analyze and address environmental problems on many scales. A key theme will be that what appear to be monolithic global environmental problems are actually many smaller, context-specific and place-dependent problems that when addressed with interdisciplinary and geographic perspectives can be understood and addressed at the scale of our lived lives.

170 - Our Digital Globe: An Overview of GIScience & its Technology

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

200-Level Courses:

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239 - Making the American Landscape

Traces the history and evolution of the American cultural landscape from precolonial times to present. Explores how class, ethnic, and racial inequality have shaped the appearance of the American landscape over time, and how that landscape in turn has affected relationships between people and groups through the present day. Examines extraordinary things (civic structures (like our State Capitol), National Parks, War Memorials) and more ordinary kinds of places (mining towns, cotton plantations, sites of recreation and leisure, and suburban tract housing) to stimulate critical thinking about how these places have served people and groups unequally and disproportionately over time and across space. Considers complex meanings of American spaces and places to different people and groups, stimulating empathy and encouraging participation in a multicultural society.

300-Level Courses:

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300 - Weird Geographies

An opportunity to re-imagine human geography. The history of geography is particularly violent and exclusive. It is well known that systems of colonialist exploitation, theft, kidnapping, and murder were facilitated in part by the work of modern cartographers and “explorers.” The discipline that we have today is a product of these earlier colonial epistemologies and ideologies. The science that emerged from these fields – geography – institutionalizes and reproduces many of the ideas and viewpoints of their modern practitioners. Creates a space to re-imagine and re-invent what the field of human geography might be. Interrogates the colonial history of geography as a social science and practice. Explores several ways of thinking about space and social life that might not fit cleanly into the discipline at large.

301 - Revolutions & Social Change

An introduction to the spatial dimensions of social movements, social struggles, and radical social change. It provides students with a range of critical and theoretical perspectives for reading and interpreting space as a tool of social transformation. Lectures and discussions explore a variety of historic examples from the nineteenth century to the present.

302 - Economic Geography

The forces of globalization and regionalization/regionalism play a fundamental role in the reworking of the global space economy. This course will examine perspectives on the complex reconfiguration of global economic geographies. We will pay particular attention to the evolving debate about the nature and significance of globalization and the role of economic, political, and technological processes in shaping geographically specific development processes.

305 - Introduction to the City

Investigates urbanization as a general process, as well as the resulting contemporary physical, social, cultural, and political-economic forms of cities, focusing on examples from the United States from the twentieth century to the present. As an ethnic studies class, emphasis will be placed on the history and current forms of spatial and social segregation of cities by race, class, ethnicity, and gender. The myriad ways that cities have addressed the tensions emerging from this history of spatial and social segregation will be highlighted. Further, emphasis will be placed on understanding the experiences of those most affected by historical and continuing segregation.

307 - International Migration, Health & Human Rights

Examines health and human mobility in a global context. Mobility is part of the human condition and international law enshrines freedom of movement, yet nation-states reserve the right to exclude. The division of the world into nation-states has profound implications for population health and individual well-being. Public policies that differentiate between citizens and non-citizens contribute to unequal life chances in employment, access to education and health care, and possibilities for forming and maintaining families and community ties. Lectures and readings will provide a context (historical, sociopolitical, and geopolitical) for understanding why people are on the move across national boundaries. The course will examine the development of laws and institutions governing people on the move; how these solidify or reshape existing global, racial-ethnic, class, and gender hierarchies; and how they contribute to individual- and population-level health.

308 - Latinx Feminisms: Women's Lives, Work & Activism

An examination of Latinx women’s lives, experiences, and activism through the lens of testimonio, life histories, and feminist writings rooted in social justice movements and critical pedagogies.

309 - People, Land & Food

Examines 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 trade-offs between human necessities such as food production and unintended consequences such as habitat loss, floods, greenhouse gas emissions, and community displacement. 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 patterns of tropical deforestation will also be a focus. We will examine a range of solutions from global policy to everyday decisions to feed and fuel the world without destroying the planet.

311 - The Global Game: Soccer, Politics & Identity

Soccer (or football) is played in almost every part of the world. Soccer will be used as a lens through which to think critically about a range of issues within our own societies and around the world. This includes examining the relationship between European imperialism and the globalization of soccer in the early 20th century; thinking about who gets to play (and who gets paid) across different contexts; and analyzing how soccer is both globally networked and intensely local in its passions and rivalries. Draws from a range of perspectives on soccer, from those who consider it to be an opium for the masses to those who see it as a vehicle for positive social change, in order to illuminate some of the big questions facing the world today.

315 - Universal Basic Income: The Politics Behind a Global Movement

Should all individuals in society receive a regular transfer of cash from the state without any strings attached? If that question had been posed fifteen years ago, it would likely have been dismissed as unrealistic, undesirable, or just plain crazy. In recent years, however, the idea of introducing a universal basic income [UBI] has gained a lot of traction around the world. Growing inequalities, financial crises, fears about jobs being automated, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all helped to put UBI on the political map. But where did the idea come from? How is it traveling to different parts of the world? And on what grounds do different advocates justify their claims? Address these questions and more by exploring the history, philosophy, and political economy of UBI from a range of perspectives. Ongoing UBI experiments from different parts of the world will also be examined.

318 - Introduction to Geopolitics

Introduces the main concepts and research themes in contemporary geopolitics. As one of the primary perspectives within the field of political geography, geopolitics represents a broad engagement with the interactive relationships between power and place, and the construction, contestation, and reconfiguration of political spaces that result. We will examine the formation of geopolitical images of the world, where these images originate, and how they have shaped our thinking and politics over time.

320 - Geomorphology

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 implications, however, and is essential to understanding many natural hazards and many forms of environmental change. 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.

332 - Global Warming: Science & Impacts

Climate change is underway and will continue into the foreseeable future. Climate change is caused by a combination of natural processes and human alterations of the earth system, with the latter increasing in importance. Because climate directly or indirectly affects all aspects of our lives, and vice versa, it is essential for twenty-first century citizens to be knowledgeable about climate science and policy. This course offers a fundamental understanding of how and why global warming is happening, and what to expect in the future. Together we will investigate and discuss the evidence for climate change, the interplay among human and physical drivers, the science that explains these observations, predicted impacts on humans and ecosystems, and proposed solutions.

333 - Green Urbanism

Over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, with an expected increase of 2.5 billion people in the next 30 years. As urbanization (broadly defined as the conversion of previously undeveloped lands into urbanized uses) continues and intensifies, we are faced with a number of environmental issues, for instance, fragmentation and destruction of habitats, and decreased air and water quality. Explore how urbanization impacts ecological processes and resulting environmental outcomes, strategies for “designing with nature,” and behavioral, planning, and policy responses to urban environmental problems.

335 - Climatic Environments of the Past

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 regular cycles between glacial and interglacial periods, and abrupt shifts in the state of the climate system. Understanding the sources and causes of past climatic variability is a necessary precondition to understanding why climates are changing today and to making informed projections for the future. The field is changing rapidly and new discoveries appear every week.

337 - Nature, Power & Society

Explores the links between nature, power, and society in today’s world. It considers the complex relationships between humans and Earth’s resources, including food, energy, water, biota, and landscapes; as well as issues linked to population and scarcity, resource tenure, green consumerism, political economy, environmental ethics, risks and hazards, political ecology, and environmental justice.

338 - Environmental Biogeography

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

339 - Environmental Conservation

Studies environmental conservation from a geographical perspective, reviewing the biophysical, institutional, and socioeconomic dimensions of environmental problems in order to develop more effective conservation solutions. Environmental conservation is itself a social process. Thus we pay careful attention to how changes in values, scientific understandings of nature, economy, and politics affect conservation practice. Not only will we trace the major debates in environmental conservation, but we will also explore how differences in people’s biophysical, economic, and political surroundings have led to different perceptions of environmental problems and their solutions.

340 - World Regions in Global Context

Explores the world’s diversity and analyzes how identity is shaped. You will determine how and why different peoples experience different forms of cultural, economic, environmental, and political change. You will examine how people shape that change. And you will make sense of how and when ties between world regions link them to similar paths of change. This course adopts a broad “world regions” approach, virtually exploring all of the world’s regions. It is an ideal feeder for regionally specific courses (e.g., on Africa, Southeast Asia), for students considering, taking, or returning from study abroad sessions, or for students with any interest in professions or jobs that will lead them to travel, or to engage with people, firms, or agencies, from other countries.

342 - Geography of Wisconsin

Covers both the physical and human geography of Wisconsin. We will start with the physical environment (rocks, soils, landforms, streams, lakes, wetlands, climate, and vegetation), and then discuss the human geography of Wisconsin, and how it was developed over time by people living and working in the unique landscapes of this state. Besides gaining a basic understanding of Wisconsin’s geography, you will learn to use a variety of concepts, tools, and information sources to interpret the physical environment and human geography of specific places within the state. For example, you will use online information sources and web mapping tools to study the original vegetation and soils of an area of the state, and then look up information on how the ownership and use of that area has changed over time. You will probably find practical uses for this experience in future courses or jobs, or just to learn more about places you live in or visit.

344 - Changing Landscapes of the American West

An introduction to the geography of the western United States. While we could look at that geography from all kinds of perspectives, this course focuses mainly on the complex human-environment interactions in the West, how they have changed in the recent past, and how they are continuing to change today.

345 - Caring for Nature in Native North America

Surveys the concepts, practices, and issues associated with natural resource management in American Indian communities. The course begins with an overview of tribal sovereignty, varied indigenous knowledge conceptions of place and nature, and the uneasy coexistence between indigenous knowledge systems and Western science in native North America. Most of this course is an in-depth exploration of particular case studies and tribal solutions to issues of ecological restoration, land and rangeland management, forestry, water resources, fish and wildlife management, food sovereignty, energy independence, and global climate change.

355 - Africa, South of the Sahara

An intermediate-level introduction to the geography of Africa. 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.

358 - Human Geography of Southeast Asia

Introduces intermediate undergraduates to the human geography of Southeast Asia, including the basic geography and history of the region, important political and theoretical issues, and policies and positions of relevance for understanding the human spatiality of the region, including the ways that ethnicity and indigeneity are being evoked in Southeast Asia and among Southeast Asians in the United States. The main objective of the course is to help students gain a basic understanding of ethnic diversity and ethnic politics in Southeast Asia, as well as to gain a general understanding of transnational politics in the United States related to Southeast Asia, especially associated with the Hmong and Lao, but also in relation to other groups as well.

359 - Australia: Environment & Society

An introduction to the human and environmental geography of Australia. Australia is a settler country, the scene of indigenous genocide, a former English colony, a mythical unknown, a biophysical puzzle, home to a startling diversity of life, a cradle of modern democracy, and a powerful industrial economy with a rich resource base. It thus serves in many ways as a mirror for the US – even matching the US roughly in size, if not in population. The two countries share many elements of a common history and biogeography and yet the human and environmental geographies of the two countries have traced very different paths into the modern world. This course provides a survey of Australian geology, ecology, society, and culture. It will include weekly check-ins with current events in Australia and exercises that connect students to current resource-management problems using Google Earth and other tools.

365 - Geographical Traditions & Practices

An introduction to the breadth and practice of Geography. Introduces geographic perspectives, theories, themes, and research design. Covers the history of the discipline, applied quantitative and qualitative methodologies used in geographic research, and a selection of subfields within the discipline.

370 - Introduction to Cartography

A general introduction to cartography, broadly defined as the art, science, and ethics of mapmaking and map use. It – and the UW Cartography curriculum in general – focuses upon the design of maps, drawing from research and practice on graphic design, information visualization, and semiotics, perspectives that students are unlikely to receive in other GIS courses. Specifically, the course emphasizes mapmaking over map use (compared to 170) and print mapping over web-based or interactive mapping (compared to 572 and 575, respectively). The course is divided into two components: lectures and labs.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs.

371 - Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing

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.

377 - Introduction to GIS

The field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is concerned with the description, analysis, and management of geographic information. This course offers an introduction to methods of managing and processing geographic information. Emphasis will be placed on the nature of geographic information, data models and structures for geographic information, geographic data input, data manipulation and data storage, spatial analytic and modeling techniques, and error analysis.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs

378 - Introduction to Geocomputing

Introduces students to the scripting and programming tools and skills commonly employed in GIS and spatial analysis. The skills learned in this course are equally applicable in scientific research, the public sector, and private industry.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs

379 - Geospatial Technologies: Drones, Sensors & Applications

Introduction to state-of-the-art technologies that capture properties of the landscape, which is critical to better characterize and understand environmental properties and change. Develop skills in geospatial systems applicable to a variety of research and industry fields. Includes an overview of unmanned aerial systems (drones), light detection and ranging (LiDAR), high-grade Differential GPS (DGPS), Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), virtual reality, optical sensors, geocaching, and geotagging.

400-Level Courses:

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410 - Critical Indigenous Ecological Knowledges

Critical Indigenous Ecological Knowledges are a set of diverse understandings, responsibilities, and laws held by distinct groups of Indigenous peoples that are enacted in multiple ways across socio-political and geographical contexts. These knowledges intersect with Indigenous political sovereignties and longstanding, complex, and nuanced relationships to the more-than-human world. Students will learn multiple entry points to exploring and examining these knowledge sets in the context of what’s for now called the U.S. and Canada to think critically about the politics of Nature, environmentalism, race, indigeneity, and colonialism both historically and in the contemporary moment. Students will reflect upon how critical Indigenous knowledges about ecology, environment, and government have been erased, co-opted, criminalized, and also continually practiced, reimagined, and revitalized in multiple spheres through a range of interdisciplinary and critical Native scholarships and writings.

434 - People, Wildlife & Landscapes

Offers an interdisciplinary framework for understanding human interactions with wildlife. We begin with ‘puzzles from prehistory’: Were humans responsible for eliminating megafauna across the continents ~12,000 years ago? Was big game hunting foundational to human evolution? These puzzles have ecological significance as well as cultural import as metaphors for human-nature relations. We then turn to contemporary human-wildlife interactions, delving into the ecological and social conditions underlying patterns of coexistence and conflict. Conservationists have traditionally assigned mutually exclusive places to wildlife (wilderness) and humans (rural areas, cities). But the boundaries separating these places are permeable.  Elephants leave African parks to forage in banana plantations. Coyotes dwell in Madison suburbs. We analyze the resulting people-wildlife conflicts and explore alternative strategies for conserving wildlife in human-dominated environments. You will learn key geographic approaches to studying the human role in environmental change, particularly biogeography, political ecology, and environmental perceptions. You will also learn basic methods for studying environmental attitudes. Class assignments will help you better understand the material and improve your professional writing and speaking skills.

439 - U.S. Environmental Policy & Regulation

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.

460 - American Environmental History

Environmental history studies the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world through time. Despite being numbered at the 400-level, this course is intended as an introduction to this exciting and still relatively unfamiliar field of scholarship, with no prerequisites. It assumes little or no background knowledge of American history, geography, or environmental studies, and offers a general survey that can be valuable for students interested in any of these fields, from entry-level undergraduates through advanced graduate students. Although the course is intended to be challenging, it is also meant to be fun: any student willing to attend lectures, do the readings, and work hard should be able to enjoy and do well in it. Our central premise throughout will be that much of the familiar terrain of American history looks very different when seen in environmental context, and that one can learn a great deal about history, geography, and the environment by studying them together. All too often, historians study the human past without attending to nature. All too often, scientists study nature without attending to human history. We will try to discover the value of integrating these different perspectives, and argue that the humanistic perspectives of historians and geographers are essential if one hopes to understand contemporary environmental issues.

500-Level Courses:

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500 - Qualitative Research Strategies in Geography

Familiarizes both upper-level undergraduates and graduate students with various aspects of qualitative research strategies as practiced by human and people-environment geographers, and prepare students to address many of the kinds of challenges they are likely to encounter when conducting qualitative research both domestically and internationally. The goal is to increase the confidence of students in relation to choosing appropriate strategies for conducting various kinds of qualitative research. The course, which is taught as a seminar, considers a wide range of issues related to qualitative research, including the human subjects review process, research ethics, the development of research questions, conceptualizing research subjects, preparing for fieldwork, participant observation, interviewing techniques, the organization of focus-group discussions, film experiences, participatory-action research, analyzing field materials, and some of the writing styles commonly used in qualitative research.

501 - Space & Place

Explores a variety of grounded empirical studies with theoretical works devoted to the problems of space and place, regularly returning to how we – and our authors – square the circle between theory and practice.

503 - Researching the City

Explores and applies qualitative research approaches in urban geography. Debates over the analysis and interpretation of qualitative data are examined through concrete urban research as students develop their own Madison-based research project. The course as a whole will focus on 1-2 major issues facing contemporary cities and that are relevant to Madison. There will be opportunities to reach out to personnel involved in addressing these issues from the City of Madison and Dane County.

504 - Feminist Geography: Theoretical Approaches

Provides an opening to some of the key debates and practices in feminist (political) geography. Feminist geography focuses on questions of power, difference, embodiment, and social change. How are feminist geographies in conversation with or part of other fields of inquiry, such as critical ethnic studies and Indigenous studies, which also focus on questions of difference, epistemologies of knowledge, and social transformation and/or decolonization? That is, what are the relationships of feminist geographic inquiry to liberatory projects of ending racism, capitalism, settler colonialism, and heteropatriarchy. Explore how feminist theories and approaches in geography transformed prevailing political geographic questions and concerns, such as power, politics, territory, boundaries, sovereignty, and violence. What do feminist principles and debates over feminist politics and methods bring to (political) geography?

505 - Cities & Development

Examines the relationship between cities and the “development” process. Reviews of global scale assessments of urbanization and debates about the production and circulation of knowledge about cities, laying the context for detailed analyses of issues such as the role of the state in the urban development process, new theories of urbanization, postcolonial urbanism, the “politics of sexuality and intimacy” in global cities, urban infrastructures, urban governance, and “new urban frontiers.” While many of these issues are long-standing topics of debate in various disciplines and interdisciplinary networks, our interest will be in recent work that addresses new theoretical, methodological, and empirical questions, or else select classics that have had lasting impacts.

507- Waste Geographies: Politics, People & Infrastructures

Explores waste as discarded material, a polluting and threatening substance that must be managed, and as a political object. Waste’s distribution across space and among groups of people, as well as the reasons for the effects of that distribution, will be examined using geographic perspectives. Who has the ability to avoid or remove themselves from waste? Who must live and work with it? The concept of infrastructure as a set of material things (roads, trucks, boats); laws and regulations; labor relations; and economies of disposal and consumption determining waste flows unites disparate topics and case studies across the semester. Concepts of and social movements for environmental justice are recurring themes.

510 - Economic Geography

Put most simply, economic geography involves analyzing and explaining what kind of economic relations form where and why. More specifically, economic geographers are interested in how economic, political, cultural, and environmental processes intertwine to produce uneven landscapes of development, prosperity, and poverty. As you will see in this course, this is a heterodox subfield that covers an array of topics and in which a range of theories and methods are put to use.

511 - Critical Social Theory

An introduction to many key movements and thinkers within Critical Social Theory. Explores the changing histories and presents of the field through a range of primary works from philosophy, critical theory, and geography – paying particular attention to the points where social theory intersects with problems of space and place. Covers classic problems in social theory ranging from theories of the political-economic constitution of the social (Marxism) and its extensions into the culture (the Frankfurt School) to a range of mid- to late-twentieth-century epistemological interventions framed around questions of difference and identity. Recent contestations and reformulations that have surfaced across ontological, decolonial, non-human, algorithmic, and other reimaginings and extensions of the social are examined.

513 - Queer Geographies

Explores several key events, sites, thinkers, and texts that contribute to the social, personal, and intellectual landscapes of Queer Geographies. An invitation to survey and reflect on queer critical strategies that sample, record, and remix constellations of relationships between theory, space, sexuality, gender, and identity. It foregrounds modes of queer spacing and placemaking in academic and popular works devoted to queer lives, studies, sexualities, narratives, publics and privates, joys and griefs, art, theory, and beyond. Offers a range of strategies for reading, interpreting, and developing nuanced scholarly interventions and theories. Question and reimagine normative notions of the personal, the social, and the socio-spatial.

514 - Feminist Geography: Methodological Approaches

An introduction to foundational approaches to feminist qualitative research in human geography. Research is not separate from a social world that historically has been and continues to be shaped by (settler) colonial, racialized, gendered, sexualized, and class-inflected relations of power (among others). Research practices and “findings” have been and continue to be used to inform and rationalize relations of oppression, exploitation, and violence. For feminist researchers, then, questions of power, difference, and social change are central to how we design and conduct research. Engages in political-ethical discussions about the positionality and responsibilities of ourselves as researchers, and how our knowledge production can reproduce and challenge prevailing relations of power.

518 - Power, Place, Identity

Processes of identification and differentiation are integral to the dynamic interaction between power and place, in some cases resulting in the creation of more inclusive multicultural sociospatial places and practices, while in others leading to more exclusionary settings. We will investigate the various intersections and interactions among power, place, and identity; review the reconceptualizations of borders and bordering in political geography; examine the specific case of nationalism and the place and identity discourses and practices that result from it; explore the cultural politics of memoryscapes; and consider the geographies of resistance through which subaltern political actors seek to empower themselves and their communities. Finally, we will assess the post-national political geographies associated with diasporas and globalization, and discuss the new spaces of citizenship identification that are said to be resulting from these processes.

523 - Advanced Paleoecology

Explores geographic and temporal responses of plant species and terrestrial ecosystems to the major environmental changes of the last 1,000,000 to 1,000 years, particularly glacial-interglacial changes in climate, carbon dioxide, and the end-Pleistocene extinctions of large animals. Key concepts include novel and no-analog ecosystems, abrupt climate and ecological change, and megaherbivore-vegetation interactions. This time period is of direct interest to global change ecologists and biogeographers studying species responses to 21st-century climate change. The laboratory section emphasizes multivariate data analysis and quantitative paleoecological inference.

525 - Soil Geomorphology

Geomorphic processes shape Earth’s surface and pedogenic processes produce soil horizons from parent material; this course considers how these two groups of processes overlap and interact. That is, the work of geomorphic processes affects soil formation, for example, when stream sediment is deposited on an existing floodplain soil. At the same time, the development of soil horizons can alter the effectiveness of geomorphic processes such as hillslope erosion. Both geomorphic and pedogenic processes cannot really be separated from the rest of the ecosystems in which they occur; without land-based life of all kinds, Earth’s landscapes and soils would be very different.

526 - Human Transformations of Earth Surface Processes

Takes an earth systems approach to explore the role of human societies in shaping earth surface processes from local to global scales. We address how alterations to our landscapes and waterways affect biological, physical, and chemical interactions among our biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. We discuss methods used to distinguish the “human impact” from background variability.

532 - Applications of GIS in Planning

Explores planning-related GIS data, applications, analytical tools, and issues and provides students with knowledge and skills they can use in a variety of planning-relevant positions.

534 - Environmental Governance: Markets, States & Nature

Designed to help students answer real-world questions of how the environment is managed and governed through state policy, economics, and social institutions. We will cover strategies within and outside the formal institutions of government, and extend the discussion to the commodification of nature and the use of science to understand and govern the environment. The last third of the class will consist of students engaging with case studies of environmental governance in water, carbon, species, and urban sustainability.

537 - Culture & Environment

Concerned with the relationship between society and environment. It both traces evolving ideas about this relationship, particularly in developing world contexts, and explores how these ideas help us understand contemporary conservation and development issues. How do rural societies transform and adapt to their biophysical environments? How do broader political economic, cultural, and biophysical changes affect this interaction at a local level? A number of different analytical approaches have been used to study this complex relationship within a range of disciplines, most notably geography and anthropology. In this course we will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches by reading and discussing a combination of theoretical works and case studies. A strong emphasis of this course will be to trace out how these theories have shaped environment/development policy in the Third World, with material impacts on rural peoples. A number of broader themes, relevant to all society-environment contexts, will be explored.

538 - The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence & Development

The humid tropics encompass roughly 10 percent of the earth’s surface and are home to more than 40 percent of the world’s human population. This region has extraordinary cultural and biological diversity, and a general dependence on agriculture and natural resources to sustain local and national economies. Within the development process, the humid tropics are undergoing rapid social and environmental change, including extensive deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and release of carbon. We begin with a short overview of the physical environment of the humid tropics, then we study the complex forces driving deforestation in different realms (Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia) and learn about consequences for local citizens. How is urbanization and globalization shifting the pressure on tropical forests? Finally, we evaluate the ecological and social viability of dominant strategies for conserving tropical forests, including protected areas, community-based forest management, and payments for ecosystem services.

557 - Development & Environment in Southeast Asia

Examines the political, sociocultural, economic, and ecological aspects of contemporary development and human-environment relations in mainland Southeast Asia, applying a critical and theoretically informed perspective, and focusing largely on rural issues.

560 - Advanced Quantitative Methods

An advanced course in statistical methods and spatiotemporal data analysis covering techniques widely used in quantitative geography and cartography/GIS. The primary emphasis is on data-driven predictive modeling, including multiple regression and extensions, geographically weighted regression, and categorical prediction. We also cover principal components analysis, clustering, and computation-intensive analysis methods. In addition, we will introduce times series analysis and spatiotemporal statistical models if time permits. Moreover, this course utilizes R script programming tools to solve statistics and spatiotemporal analysis problems.

565 - Undergraduate Geography Colloquium

The ultimate objective of this course is to produce a high-quality final project that showcases your skills as a geographer to a potential employer or a graduate program. This class will: 1) provide you with a format to apply various geographic theories, techniques, and practices; 2) help you acquire the skills necessary to design and implement a geographic research project in a group setting; 3) enhance your critical reasoning and analytical skills; 4) advance your knowledge of a specific geographic subfield; and 5) further develop your written, oral, and visual communication skills. This course differs from most lecture classes in that participants will meet these objectives by designing and implementing an original research project. One often comes to appreciate the study of “earth as home” through geographic practice. This class provides that opportunity.

566 - History of Geographic Thought

Surveys the major traditions of geographic thought from the early twentieth 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 UW-Madison in particular.

572 - Graphic Design in Cartography

An in-depth examination of advanced topics in cartographic representation, or the graphics, sounds, haptics, etc., constituting a map that are employed to encode geographic information. It is a direct extension of 370, 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 art. Specifically, it integrates theory on both mapmaking and map use (compared to 170 or 370, 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 575). The course is divided into two components: lectures and labs.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs

573 - Advanced Geocomputing & Geospatial Big Data Analysis

Geospatial Big Data is an extension to the concept of Big Data with emphasis on the geospatial component and under the context of geography or geosciences. It is used to describe the phenomenon that large volumes of georeferenced data (including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data) about various aspects of the Earth environment and society are captured by millions of environmental and human sensors in a variety of formats such as remote sensing imagery, crowdsourced maps, geotagged videos and photos, transportation smart card transactions, mobile phone data, location-based social media content, and GPS trajectories. This course will introduce the theory, techniques, and analytical methods for Big Data GIS. Methods for storing, processing, analyzing, and visualizing various types of geospatial big data using advanced Python programming will be introduced. The course is designed for students who have programming experience or have finished GEOG 378 previously and want to reinforce the programming skills and learn AI and machine learning methods for solving geospatial big data problems. This course includes lectures and lab exercises. The knowledge and skills learned in this course further prepare students for an emerging career of (Geospatial) Data Science.

574 - Spatial Databases

Designing databases provides a foundation for GIS functions and web applications. Students will investigate techniques used for designing databases in non-spatial environments and explore “spatial” considerations while developing a spatial database for GIS problems. The course will cover the basic concepts, techniques, and methodologies for designing and implementing a spatial database.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs

575 - Interactive Cartography & Geovisualization

A comprehensive overview of conceptual and technical design topics related to dynamic mapping, topics typically considered under the cartographic research thrusts of Interactive Cartography and Geovisualization. Specifically, it discusses user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design as applied for web maps, drawing from research and practice on Human-Computer Interaction, Information Visualization, Usability Engineering, and Visual Analytics, perspectives that students are unlikely to receive in other GIS courses. The course emphasizes mapmaking over map use (compared to 170) and the design of interfaces to maps rather than the maps themselves (compared to 370 and 572). The class is divided into two components: lectures and labs.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs

576 - Spatial Web & Mobile Programming

Introduces the fundamental skills necessary to develop web applications and program spatial analytical functions in a web environment. Students will also acquire skills for developing spatial mobile apps on devices such as phones and tablets. Those skills will allow students to develop web and mobile applications to support geospatial data access, analysis, sharing, and synthesis over the internet. Previous java programming knowledge is not essential, but basic programming experience is required.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs

578 - GIS Applications

Details the geographic concepts, logical arguments, and workflows that make geographic information software a valuable tool for problem-solving. The class consists of lectures, laboratory exercises, and a student project that produces an original GIS data layer. The objectives of the course are: 1) to familiarize students with the process of conceptualizing and solving geographic problems using GIS; and 2) to provide students with the practical experience of managing GIS projects.

579 - GIS & Spatial Analysis

An advanced GIS course covering analytical methods used in GIS and spatial analysis. The course is intended to provide students with a firm understanding of the theoretical/conceptual side of algorithms found in GIS software. We are concerned with the assumptions and underlying mathematical basis for widely used techniques, and the degree to which analytical capabilities are constrained by those assumptions. Among the topics covered are logic frameworks, terrain analysis, spatial interpolation, point pattern analysis, and network analysis. Other advanced topics such as fuzzy sets and neural networks will also be covered. The emphasis is on the usefulness and limitations of competing algorithms.

Course sections numbered 070 are reserved for the online GIS Professional Programs