Sample Graduate Courses

To get a sense of graduate Geography courses please see these descriptions of recent seminars and courses taught within the department.
 
GEO 509: Geographic Information System Workshop (taught by Wilson)
Geographic information technologies continue to drive the representation and management of complex as well as everyday spatial information.  As a result, increasing numbers of for-profit and non-profit organizations have recognized the need to transform their information into a spatial format.  The demand for collaborative and participatory skills in the use of these mapping tools has, of course, been furthered by this general trend.  Therefore, the goal for this course is that each student will become an independent and effective GIS user while developing their collaborative skills in the use of GIS for spatial analysis and representation.  To meet this goal, this course follows a participatory workshop model, drawing on Elwood (2009) -- an intensive, hands-on experience in which student teams use GIS in collaboration with community partners.  These partnerships will involve students in a full range of collaborative GIS: working with team members and project partners to identify project goals, acquiring and preparing spatial data for GIS analyses, communicating with clients to assess progress, managing spatial data, and producing necessary maps and analyses.  The lecture, reading, and seminar discussion components of the course will focus on topics important to collaborative development -- to be prepared to implement, manage, and apply in a variety of research and applications areas, and in multiple geographical and institutional contexts.
 
GEO 530: Biogeography and Conservation (taught by Stallins)
An introduction to the geographic patterning of biological diversity, exploring its origins, dynamics, and present trends. Examines the interplay among physical conditions, ecological interactions, evolutionary processes, and the historical movements of organisms and as they have combined to affect the distribution of species, with particular attention to the application of geographic thought to current problems of species loss and conservation.  We also survey a range of topics relevant to geographic inquiry, including the history of ideas about ecological structure and function; vegetation dynamics; scale theory and how ideas from  geography inform the practice of scale; complexity theory and adaptive management; fire ecology and managing forests for fire; conceptions of wilderness; and invasive species.  This class is taught so that it is informative as well as useful for a range of students, from those with more traditional biogeographic interests, to political ecologists seeking to make stronger linkages to non-human forms and processes, as well as students of geospatial techniques who want a better understanding of the dynamics of the surface phenomena they interpret and visualize.
 
GEO 619: Remote Sensing Fundamentals (taught by Liang)
This is an introductory course to remote sensing technologies and their applications in environmental observation and analysis. This course provides essential knowledge and skills that are needed to utilize remote sensing for various applications related to land use/land cover analysis, environmental monitoring, natural resources management, and urban planning. This course includes coverage of the fundamental remote sensing principles, overview of space/air borne sensors/data, essential techniques for digital image processing, and novel applications such as thermal and active remote sensing. Theoretical learning and lab exercises are integral parts of the course. This course is intended to provide understanding of remote sensing technologies and data and build up fundamental skills to apply remote sensing techniques to various studies and investigations in both natural and social science fields.
 
GEO 655: Publications Workshop (taught by multiple faculty)
This seminar guides graduate students through the process of writing, revising, and submitting a journal article.  Publication is the main way in which scholars communicate their ideas and findings and engage others in conversations.  In geography, journal articles are the main form of publication (though many scholars do also write books).  Becoming part of scholarly conversation in geography means learning how to write and publish journal articles. Furthermore, hiring and tenure decisions are very often based on publication in peer-reviewed journals. The purpose of this course is to help students prepare a journal article for submission and in the process lay the groundwork for a writing career. This seminar is organized around the creation of a publishable paper. Each student should enter the class with the germ of a publishable paper – perhaps a seminar paper from another class that garnered attention, a dissertation chapter, or a Master’s thesis. 
 
GEO 705: Doing Qualitative Research (taught by various faculty)
This course is meant to be an in-depth study and application of one or more research methods/techniques (e.g., qualitative methods, ethnography, textual analysis, visual analysis, GIS). Intended to offer M.A. and Ph.D. students advanced methodological specialization in geography. In this iteration, we will discuss students’ previous “training” and current methodological “needs” the first day in order to respond to those particularities. In any event, the course will focus on several “units” after an introductory section; each unit will begin with readings on and discussion of a particular research method (its foundations, its issues and problems, its prosecution in the abstract) before requiring a “hands-on” exercise designed to gain practical experience in data collection and analysis. Units will be (potentially) organized around archival research, interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and data analysis.
 
GEO 711: Land and Landscape (taught by Schein)
This seminar is designed to allow us: to briefly explore the concept of the cultural landscape, especially as it has been employed within geographic literatures; to read a number of "thematic" empirically grounded essays which explore particular landscapes as either a direct object of study or for their implication in general social processes (or both); to explore the manner in which a specific, local landscape might be interrogated in light of knowledge gained from the other two objectives above. We will begin with the proposition that "the cultural landscape is our unwitting autobiography..." (as Peirce Lewis has written), and move toward a more processual conception of the landscape where "it" is implicated in the ongoing formulations of social and cultural (re)production.
 
GEO 713: Virtual Geography (taught by Zook)
This seminar focuses on the diffusion of information technologies and their associated practices throughout the economy and society.  While this provides the opportunity for revamping politics, culture, creativity and the economy the outcome is far from fixed.  While the example of WikiLeaks illustrates the ability of individuals to sidestep traditional controls, the recent proposal of Google and Verizon regarding net neutrality issues highlights the continued power of entrenched actors.  Geography runs throughout these debates and the rise of Neogeography/Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) are particularly compelling topics for inquiry.
 
GEO 714: Political Ecology (taught by various faculty)
This course is designed as a pro-seminar introducing graduate students to the breadth and depth of the subdiscipline of political ecology within geography.  The age-old task of analyzing the relationships between human society and the natural environment was reframed for Geographers by Blaikie and Brookfield’s 1987 definition of political ecology as an approach that “merges the concerns of ecology with a broadly-conceived political economy.”  With antecedents in cultural ecology, environmental anthropology, developmentalist economics, and more recently poststructural theorizations of nature, political ecology has come to cover a broad spectrum of intellectual endeavor.  As a pro-seminar, it covers the diversity of topics in a relatively brief manner, rather than going deeply into any one area within political ecology.  Students are invited to explore one area more deeply in a research paper to be presented at the end of the semester.
 
GEO 715: Foucault (taught by Samers)
Michel Foucault was an historian, philosopher, and social thinker, and his work has fostered intellectual debates in criminology and penal studies, gender studies, geography, history, law, political science, psychiatry, and sociology, among many others. This course is designed as an advanced introduction to his work, from his earliest writings on madness and discipline to his later work on the state, security, governmentality, as well as the ‘care of the self’. The course reviews individual chapters, lectures, or major parts of his most celebrated texts, examining especially Foucault’s method and his critical insights.
 
GEO 715: Heidegger and Place (taught by Schatzki)
This seminar considers Heidegger’s ideas about place (and spatiality) and their position in social theory. Part one examines Heidegger’s analysis of the spatiality of existence in Being and Time, as well as his ideas about place and the open/clearing from the 1950s and 30s. Following this, part two explores what the notion of place is getting at by juxtaposing Heidegger’s conceptions with well-known analyses developed in geography by Yi-Fu Tuan, Doreen Massey, Tim Cresswell, and Nigel Thrift. The final part of the seminar considers whether Heideggerian and other conceptions of place remain pertinent to understanding the contemporary world.
 
GEO 715: postMarxist Feminist political economies (taught by Mutersbaugh)
Since studies of emotional labor and the making of the laboring subject (Hochschild, Willis)—drawing on theories of labor and value—studies of the body working, affective, performing, consuming, playing—have become a key aspect of geographic analysis. This course—based in feminist and cultural marxist studies in political economy—will tour several literatures: Work: Recent studies under rubrics of 'labor process', 'emotional labor' and 'STS' have reworked classical concerns to include novel work relations that are affective, reproductive and cooperative. The Body: Gendered, racialized, sexualized, virtual, ethnic. These – added to class – define an arena of body-centric analysis. The body reproduces, consumes, and constitutes our worldly experience; it also, necessarily, frames the manner in which others (not to mention ourselves, following Lacan) 'place' us. Alienation: A beauty of this word is that it expresses our sense of loss and abstraction from the world, and also describes the power-laden, socio-economic process through which value produced by our labor is taken and removed as 'surplus', accumulating beyond our reach.
 
GEO 717: Mobile Urbanism (taught by Wood)
Academic work on cities and urban policy has recently undergone a substantial shift. From a long-standing focus on the city as a bounded unit and the various ‘urban’ interests that generate urban politics and urban policy, contemporary geographical work has adopted a more ‘relational’ view in which cities and urban policy are seen as assembled together from ideas, practices and policies that have their origins in a variety of different places and contexts. This course is designed to examine the recent literature on cities and urban policy making, paying particular attention to its geographies. The course encourages the development of a critical perspective on urban policy as a set of practices of policy making as well as the policies themselves. It also examines the analytical weight of mobile urbanism or, in short, the strengths and limits of urban policy mobility as an analytical device.
 
GEO 717: Global Urban Futures (taught by Samers)
This course explores the intersection between cities and social life. Rather than an advanced, systematic introduction to the intellectual history of urban geography, the course adopts an inter-disciplinary thematic and socio-theoretical approach to the transformation of cities in the twenty-first century. Drawing on literatures principally from anthropology, geography, and sociology, we will address issues which are, and will likely to continue to be significant issues associated with urban areas in the twenty-first century. The course will explore such themes as new diasporic urban communities, new forms of urban citizenship and governance, collective urban violence such as riots, alternative/‘grassroots’ social movements for affordable housing and ‘living wage’ employment, informal working and squatting communities, urban ‘green’ initiatives (related to energy use, transportation, and housing), the role of digital technologies (‘smartphones’, etc.) in producing new urban consumers, navigators, and ‘neo-flaneurs’, as well as the implications for  the reinvention of cities through the pervasive discourse of ‘creativity’ and ‘diversity’. However, it is the bubbling DIY extension of urban ‘social movements’ and ‘contentious politics’ that will serve as the guiding leitmotif of this course – a diverse collection of urban actions that address the above themes to uncertain ends. The course focuses on North American and European cities, but with some attention to issues in African, Asian, and Latin American cities.
 
GEO 721: Biogeomorphology (taught by J. Phillips)
This seminar is designed to provide advanced students with substantive research experience in biogeomorphology, focused on a specific problem. The course is not intended to be a comprehensive general geomorphology or biogeography course. Students should have had at least one geomorphology course (e.g., GEO 351) and one biogeography or ecology course (e.g., GEO/BIO 530, 531). The course will require extensive out-of-class fieldwork in rough terrain in remote locations. Students who have physical limitations that may influence their ability to safely participate should consult with the professor about possible alternatives or accommodations. The specific problem focuses on tree uprooting, the resultant landforms and soil mixing, and the effects of trees on regolith evolution. The field area is in the Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.
 
GEO 722: Immigration (taught by Ehrkamp)
This seminar is intended to provide students with a broad introduction to the conceptualization of contemporary immigration, immigration policies and immigration law, immigrant incorporation, and immigrants’ experiences in the North America and Europe.  We will read works from across the social sciences, focusing mostly on recent scholarship and research areas.  The seminar begins with a brief consideration of ‘classic’ concepts of immigrant incorporation before moving on to thinking through social differentiation and the ways that such social differentiation is achieved and/or mediated by laws and policies.  Throughout the course, the question of difference plays an important role as we consider how sexuality, race, and gender (to mention but a few) are implicated in discourses about immigration, citizenship, and in immigration policy and enforcement.  (The seminar is cross-listed with Social Theory and counts towards the Certificate in Social Theory.)
 
GEO 722: Queer Geographies (taught by Gieseking)
This course examines emerging dialogues between geographies of queer theory and studies of queer geographies. While historical and social science research is often labelled as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (lgbtq) studies, queer theory has largely been a project of the humanities, with the exception of anthropology and, much more recently, geography. This course sits at the intersection of these projects to put them in conversation, taking a generational approach to explore the sometimes adjacent, sometimes intertwined, and also interdependent evolution of queer theory, LGBTQ studies, and geographies of sexualities.
 
GEO 722: Crowdsourcing, the Geoweb and Augmented Realities (taught by Zook)
This seminar focuses upon the geographies of digital space and the complex ways it intersects with the material world. The course draws upon work from Geography, Sociology, Planning, Visual Studies and Information Science to think through the array of ways this ongoing process can be conceptualized and theorized.  Of particular interest is the ability to map and analyze “big data” sources that are increasing available (Twitter, social networks, mobile phone tracks, etc.) to researchers, governments and companies.  Ranging from digitized collections of texts and other cultural artifacts to the transactional records of day-to-day life captured by social media to the ubiquity of environmental sensors, scholars are just beginning to understand the possibilities and challenges (particularly relating to privacy and surveillance) of these rich sources of data on the time and location of the social and natural processes of everyday life.  This course includes sections on capturing and using these data and students are encouraged to develop individual research projects.
 
CORE CURRICULUM 
 
GEO 600: Introduction to Methods in Geography 
This course is designed to familiarize the beginning graduate student with the practical and theoretical challenges of approaching research with an appropriate, rigorous and defensible methodology.  Questions of method are often seen as secondary to theoretical ambition or the practicalities and logistics of research, and perhaps Geography is particularly guilty of this tendency.  A range of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches have been elaborated over the past 40 years.  And yet, as quantitative methodologies have been laid aside in some post-positivist human geography, the rigor expected in qualitative traditions has given way to earnest but vague notions of a theory-driven praxis.  In this course qualitative and quantitative approaches are considered equally valuable, and may even be combined in multi-method work; questions of rigor remain no matter which approach is chosen.  Human geographers must be able to convincingly operationalize theory in the mundane activities of daily research, and be able to structure an extended study in such a way as to produce convincing results.  Both effective scholarly communication and effective grant-writing depend on a critical mastery of methodological questions.
 
GEO 702: Concepts in Geography 
The formal aims of this seminar are two-fold: (1) To introduce students to selected recent and contemporary themes and debates in geographic thought; and (2) To encourage critical and informed engagement with key texts in the discipline.  Less formally, what I want you get out of this course is an appreciation for the importance of key concepts in geography and the centrality to the discipline of debates over the meaning and significance of those concepts. A number of points will be clear from the outset. First, what counts as a concept and especially a ‘key’ concept is a matter of debate that often touches on the very identify of the discipline itself. Second, the meanings attached to concepts continue to be things that are struggled over. Third, by understanding such arguments and debates – through a careful and theoretically-informed critical reading – we can begin to assess what was and/or is at stake in the discipline’s struggles over concepts and their meanings.
 
GEO 742: Teaching Practicum
This seminar provides an introduction to teaching with particular focus on pedagogical issues in geography. At the completion of this course, students will have a background sufficient to enable them to assume full responsibility for university and college-level courses.
 
GEO 742 Preparing Future Faculty in Geography
This one credit course is designed to prepare students for the duties and responsibilities of a career in academia. Through in-class presentations, discussions, and selected readings, students will consider the major issues faced by those who pursue academic careers. After completing this course, the student will have knowledge of: 1. The structure of the university and academic careers, 2. How to build a strong academic record in graduate school that will serve the aims of the individual student. 3. The range of jobs that a PhD in Geography supports and how to apply for them.  4. The political, social, and psychic challenges of academic life
 
GEO 743: Research Proposals and Grant Writing
The aim of this course is to prepare students for writing successful grant proposals for funding from essentially academic research bodies. There is no formal text for this course. The classes will consist of a series of lectures, discussions and critiques (of previous proposals submitted to various funding agencies, and your own on-going proposals) as well as guest visits from other faculty and the A&S research officer. The primary focus will be on National Science Foundation dissertation funding, although we will also discuss funding opportunities from other organizations, agencies and programs, which are designed to support graduate, especially dissertation research.
 
 
NEW MAP PLUS COURSES
The course below are part of the the department's online gradaute program in web mapping. Geography students can opt (with their advisor's approval) to take these courses during their program. 
 
MAP 671: Introduction To New Mapping
This course introduces students to both the social and technical aspects of digital mapping in the 21st century. Students will learn fundamental concepts and techniques in cartography and GIS, including file types, data classification, projections and coordinate systems and elementary analytical techniques in a range of desktop and web-based mapping platforms. In addition to providing the fundamental technical competencies necessary to create maps, students will develop the critical awareness required to effectively communicate complex social processes through maps.
 
MAP 672: Programming For Web Mapping 
This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts and techniques of web development and computer programming through web mapping. Students will become familiar with current web standards and proficient in manipulating the structural, stylistic and behavioral elements of web maps through programming. Students will translate these practices to achieve objectives in web cartography such as the display of a base map, the thematic representation of data, and the employment of interaction to enhance visual communication and the presentation of information.
 
MAP 673: Programming for Web Mapping
This course integrates the principles of geographic representation and web programming in order for students to develop high-quality interactive web maps. Students will design interactive web map projects that appropriately represent spatial data in order to serve end-user goals of map engagement and visual communication. The course will train students to compose interactive maps within the context of a coherent web page layout, including the development of supplementary content (such as text and metadata) to aid in visual storytelling.
 
MAP701: History of Critical Cartography
This course provides an opportunity for students to engage with the power of maps: the history and contemporary development of maps and mapping as ways of making a difference. Students will acquire experience in thinking critically about data (big and tiny), representation (eg., including silences and marginalization), surveillance, and how maps affect people’s beliefs and behaviors. We will learn some of the little-known “hidden histories” of mapping, as well as well-kept cartographic secrets. Key questions of ethics will be addressed. The course is arranged thematically, and both historical and contemporary examples will be used and their linkages explored. The class will balance theory and practice, and students will get plenty of opportunity to apply knowledge of mapping skills (eg., QGIS and web-mapping) to explore real-world examples.
 
MAP 719: Social Impacts Of New Mapping 
This course introduces social and cultural issues that have emerged alongside the growth of digital mapping and location‒based services. It reviews the evolving nature of digital divides, expert versus crowdsourced knowledge, surveillance, privacy and the ethics of big geospatial data collection and use. Students will utilize these discussions of the social impacts of new mapping to challenge and contextualize their own mapping projects.
 
 
COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL THEORY CLASSES WITH GEOGRAPHY FACULTY
 
ST 600: Law, Sex, Family (co-taught by Ehrkamp) 
This seminar is broadly conceived as a study of law as a set of norms constitutive of culture and society, in which our entry into questions of “law” occurs through the topics of sexuality and family. We examine how practices come into being as ‘law’ and are treated as ‘law,’ as well how ‘sex’ and ‘family’ come into being through such ‘legal’ and cultural forms of governance and discourse. Topics include: constructions of family, marriage and kinship in law; colonial and customary law; psychoanalysis and the family; migration, race and nationhood; queering law.
 
ST 600: Security (co-taught by Roberts) 
Concerns over security permeate our globalizing world. From the food we eat, the water we drink, the body we live in, and money we save, to the “homeland” where we reside, the war and violence in which we are implicated, and cyberspace we explore, it is indeed difficult to think of facets of social life that are not touched by the questions of security. How has all this happened? Whose security, exactly, are we talking about? Where is our society headed – the dream of gated communities, or the nightmare of surveillance society? Where are the points of intervention, if there are any, for politics, democracy, freedom, and equality in the midst of security concerns? How do we theorize security? We will explore these and related questions as they have been manifested in diverse historical and geographical contexts.
 
ST 690: Feminism and Post-Colonialism (co-taught by Ehrkamp; cross-listed with GWS 616) 
This course is designed to expose students to a range of theories and debates centering on or pertinent to women, gender, and sexuality in the field of postcolonial studies. Here, the field is understood in its widest and most interdisciplinary sense, inclusive of studies of Empire, subaltern studies, and diasporas. Topics for study will include classical texts in the field, current postcolonial readings on gender and sexuality in empire, geopolitics, representation, immigration, trans/nationalism, and diasporas. We will, in particular, unpack Western understandings of ‘culture’ and ‘liberal democracy,’ and philosophical concepts such as ‘hospitality’ and ‘cosmopolitanism’.
 
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