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GEOG 1982 World Regional Geography

Instructor Contact:

Eric Reiff

Email: eric.reiff@colorado.edu

Instructor Bio:

As a critical geographer I believe that all knowledge is political. It is therefore important that you know the perspective from which information is coming so you can be an informed and critical consumer of knowledge. Therefore, I will not try to hide that although many academics agree with my understanding of nature-society geography (including your text book) that there are other ways to understand how the world works. In fact I encourage you to challenge this course’s understanding of nature and society as part of your academic development.

The first step in thinking critically about this course is for you to know who I am as the instructor. I was born in the waning months of the Nixon administration in a small, conservative, almost exclusively white town in rural Indiana. I came of age during the end of the Cold War and the disillusionment of the Soviet Union. From an early age I developed a keen interest in how society conceptually frames nature, how this framing orders society, what this framing allows society to do to nature, and how nature plays an active role in shaping the way society metabolizes nature.

I developed this interest while working for my family’s construction company off and on between the ages of 14 to 31. These years spent building strip malls, factories, restaurants, and houses were punctuated by other formative adventures. I earned a BA in Biology from Hanover College where I was able to study biodiversity conservation in Malaysia, help develop a tropical biology course in Belize and Guatemala, and work in Switzerland for a summer on a student work visa. I also traveled throughout Europe during this time on several trips. My interest in the world took me to Lithuania as a Peace Corp volunteer where I taught English to high school students. My wife and I hosted a Russian and Japanese exchange student each for a year after we returned from Peace Corps. I also worked with Armenian refugees through Catholic Charities in Indiana.

I left my family’s construction company in 2005 to attend the Korbel School of International Relations at the University of Denver. From the Korbel School I earned an MA in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration in 2007. After this I worked for Wall Street on Demand in Boulder as a project manager. There I led projects developing websites for the financial industry. After three years back in the private sector my yearning to return to academia became too great to ignore and I began working on a PhD in Geography at University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010. My dissertation work critically examines the drivers behind the current resurgence of backyard urban food production in the United States. This project brings together my interests in nature-society relations, the subjectifying power of the global political economy, and people’s efforts to resist power through assertions of personhood and place-making in their backyards. More simply put, I’m exploring how backyard food production produces people and communities as well as sustenance.

About the Course:

What is geography?

A common misconception is that Geography is learning where places are. Obviously, it is important to know where places are (especially in relation to other places) and to have an idea of what landscape elements are found in different places. But, geographers also examine how places came to be what they now are, how they are related to other places, and in what ways places become sources of contention. One of the most
 exciting things about geography is that it requires the ability to integrate knowledge from a variety of different disciplines, such as geology, climatology, anthropology, history, and economics, with a focus on places. This course will draw attention to the unique historical, natural, cultural, political, and economic landscapes of different world regions in order to show how different attributes and processes tie places and regions together while simultaneously making them distinct.

Why world regional geography?

In our hyperglobalized world it can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what or who is responsible for issues such as the overfishing the oceans, climate change, poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, or the deindustrialization of the American “Rust Belt”. This course provides an introduction to one way that the discipline of geography makes sense of our highly integrated yet differential world by organizing people, places, and environments into regions. Regions are further defined and organized in relationship to one another. In sum, this course requires more than knowing where things are. It also asks why things are where they are and how they relate to other places and processes.

Objectives:

Throughout this course you will learn to:

  • define and explain geography’s world regional perspective
  • identify some of the environmental, cultural, political, economic, and historical processes that create and hold regions together and distinguish them from each other
  • apply the world regional perspective through written critical analysis of global problems and proposed solutions
  • deploy your newly forming critical world regional perspective to denaturalize broadly held “common sense” assumptions about how the world works so that you will be able to argue for alternative understandings of global and regional processes and how they shape locales

Required Texts:

World Regions in Global Context, 5th Ed., by Sallie Marston, et al. (ISBN 978-0321966643). Hard copies are available from the CU bookstore. You can also rent a digital copy from coursesmart.com.

Evaluation/Grading:

  • 15% – 2 Position Papers
  • 10% – 2 Assignments
  • 10% – 10 Reading Quizzes
  • 15% – Mapping Project Paper
  • 10% – Mapping Project/Map File and Presentation
  • 10% – Midterm 1
  • 10% – Midterm 2
  • 20% – Final

There will be no extra credit opportunities for this course.

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Hours

Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm

Location

We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.

Map

1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado
80309-0178