GEOGRAPHY SENIOR SEMINAR - Spring 2008
Instructor: Ev Wingert, Physical Science 312A, 956-7672, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesdays, 3:00 to 5:30 pm, Saunders 442
Introduction: Geography 390 is designed to be the capstone course of the geography major’s degree program. During your progression through the different components of the four departmental specialities, you were expected to gain insight into the acquisition of geographic knowledge and the geographic aspects of local and global issues. The physical, human, regional, and geographic techniques courses that you took, all part of the major requirements, employ different perspectives, methods and approaches to geographic exploration.
One important aspect of this discussion seminar is to explore and contrast the ways that these different approaches affect how you gain and apply knowledge about geographic processes. You all have specialized in different aspects of geographic endeavor and we want people in each of the different concentration areas to educate the other group’s specialities about the nature of their chosen approaches.
A major aspect of this seminar is to gain experience in expressing your geographic knowledge orally and through written documents. Writing reports, position papers and making presentations will be a daily part of your professional career life, no matter where it finds its focus. The stronger communicator you are in your chosen field, the faster you will progress and find your opinions respected and acted upon. You are all expected to be full and daily participants in this seminar and to strive to increase the quality and depth of your communication.
Geography is everywhere. Hopefully what and how you see every day, will be conditioned by your course work, experience and reading at Manoa and elsewhere. I want everyone to hone "geographic seeing" and be able to clearly and easily express comments and opinions on the geographic components of large and small issues and places.
I want you to read widely this semester and I hope to give you the opportunity to find interesting and maybe even exciting things to read that touch and involve geographic knowledge. I have lots of favorites and I have asked all the geography faculty to give me theirs so I can assemble a reading library that you can all sample, hopefully with enthusiasm. We will also read and write about things that are important to your geographic education but maybe not exciting, maybe even boring. What a wonderful place the world would be if everything was fun and exciting. It’s not! However, there are important things to explore that take work and a good measure of discipline to digest. Some of the most boring things that I have read and studied have turned out to be the most valuable.
This tutorial will provide you with an opportunity to review the history of geography and its role in forming today’s world. We will compare philosophies of knowledge, concepts and methods in geography. We are going to read, write and talk about geographic subjects and the geographic way of thinking. I want you to bring your education and natural interpretative abilities to bear on local issues. Some if not most of one’s education takes place well away from the classroom. I would like to walk with you through Honolulu, Amerika Samoa, Vancouver Island, Normandy, Biffontaine, London and etc. – all places with a link to Hawai`i’s people and geography – why is there an "Aloha Avenue" in Seattle and a "Republican Street" in Honolulu? – but just not enough time. However, we will try to find time in the schedule for a couple of fieldtrips to Honolulu neighborhoods.
Above all there will be weekly writing assignments. The assignments will range from one major research paper on a place on O`ahu to smaller focused essays on readings and geographic issues. We will also spend some time on reflecting on the geography major as we see it at UHM and careers in geography. We will hear from geographers working in a number of positions and roles in Hawai`i and elsewhere.
Reading: There will be a base set of literature that all students will read and come prepared to discuss at every session. Some of these readings will be book chapters, some academic articles, and some will be from the popular literature. In some cases I will ask for written evaluations of the required readings and contrasts between associated readings. Some essays will be short – its often harder to write a single paragraph than a fifteen paragraph essay – and some will be longer. In each of the reading groups, a class discussion leader will be prepared to lead discussion of chapters and topics as assigned.
I expect all of you to read newspapers for at least a few minutes every day; local, regional, national, and/or international; on-line or paper; to search out the geographic components of the news. The current Hawaii Super Ferry confrontation has a multitude of geographic components and you should be prepared to discuss any such current geographically linked topic in class and with your peers.
I also want you to read at least one book from the list at the end of this syllabus. This is the list prepared by the faculty containing their favorite books containing geographic topics, whether written by geographers or not.
The textbook for the class is Place: A Short Introduction, by Tim Cresswell, written in 2004 and published by Blackwell. The other required readings are available on library reserve, on-line, or as class handouts. Another book that we will explore extensively is Neil Smith, American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization, 2003, University of California Press: Berkeley. (Biography of Isaiah Bowman)
Learning Outcomes: (1) Become familiar with a range of literature relating to the history and practice of Geography. (2) To be able to articulate the relationship of the geographic perspective to everyday living situations. (3) To conduct geographic research about a place and communicate the results verbally and in a structured written form.