GEOG 488 - Seminar
Seminars will rotate such that they are offered two out of every three years. Senior seminars examine a variety of topics, including:
Cities of the 21st Century: The Political Economy of Urban Sustainability (cross-listed with ENVI 478 when offered as a seminar with the same title)
The purpose of this course is to understand the practices and concepts that constitute the movement for sustainable cities and investigate the ways in which urban sustainability initiatives are generated and how they vary geographically. The course adopts a political economy perspective to trace the complex interactions of institutions, politics, and economic systems that shape initiatives for more sustainable cities. Students will work in the first part of the course to enhance their understanding of core concepts and best practices that constitute the professional field of sustainable urban development and assemble a framework for analyzing the ways in which sustainability initiatives come to fruition and approach the idea of sustainability in a particular way. Equipped with these foundations, we then analyze case studies in the second part of course that focus on the meaning of sustainability, its practice internationally, and the ultimate impact of these practices on ecological balance, economic sustainability, and social equity in the urban environment. Toward these ends, students will conduct a semester-long senior capstone research project that investigates a particular urban sustainability initiative in the world by tracing the political economy of its creation and considering its impact on society, economy, and environment.
Next offered Fall 2012 semester.
Comparative Environment and Development Studies (cross-listed with and when each are offered as a seminar with the same title)
A concern for the relationship between nature and society has been one of the pillars of geographic inquiry, and has also been an important bridge between other disciplines. By the 1960s, this area of inquiry was referred to variously as “human ecology” or “cultural ecology.” Over the last decade certain forms of inquiry within this tradition have increasingly referred to themselves as “political ecology.” The purpose of this seminar is to review major works within the traditions of cultural and political ecology; examine several areas of interest within these fields (e.g., agricultural modernization, environmental narratives, conservation, ecotourism); and explore nature-society dynamics across a range of geographical contexts. Towards the end of the course students will explore how one might begin to think in practical terms about facilitating development in marginal environments. Note: Completion of prior to registering for this seminar is strongly encouraged. Next offered Fall 2012.
Historical Geography of Urbanization
A research methods course in which students will conduct inquiries on the development of urban settlement forms throughout the world. The genesis of contemporary American landscapes with an emphasis on the Middle West. Field trips and individual projects. The seminar frequently produces studies of a neighborhood in cooperation with a local community. It is part of Macalester’s Civic Engagement initiatives. Note: Completion of prior to registering for this seminar is strongly encouraged. Next offered Fall 2014.
Medical Geography: The Human Ecology of Vector-Borne Diseases
In this course, we adopt a broadly geographical perspective to shed light on the causes, consequences, and control of vector-borne diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, and Lyme disease. Although we will draw largely on the literature in medical geography, an understanding of the social and ecological dimensions of these diseases requires integration of concepts from many other fields, including biology, ecology, history, economics, politics, medicine, and public health. Topics include the natural history of microbial and vector co-evolution with human populations; the modern history of medical and public health interventions against vector-borne disease, including the global malaria eradication program; the social and economic burden that disease places on developing countries today; the impact of environmental transformations (e.g. climate change, land cover change) on the ecology, intensity, and geographical distribution of these diseases; and the use of GIS and spatial analysis to evaluate and model the distribution, prevalence, and causes of vector-borne disease. We will also weigh the merits of different control strategies and study the scientific, technical, and political challenges to effectively controlling vector-borne diseases in regions where they are endemic. Since this is a seminar course, we will also emphasize developing your skills in scholarly research and writing, as well as learning how to evaluate and integrate insights from different disciplines. Note: Completion of prior to registering for this seminar is encouraged. Next offered Spring 2013.
Migrants, Migration and the Global Landscape of Population Change
Castles and Miller argue that we are living in the age of migration – a period in history when a greater proportion of the human population is on the move than ever before. This course examines migration through a geographic lens seeking to elucidate the connections between theory and the changing and complex lived experiences of migrants. We will consider different approaches to studying migration including primary migration theories, the analyses of major flows, and micro models of individual decision-making behavior, life course and livelihood perspectives and the implications of these movements for both sending and receiving communities. This course is organized as a senior capstone seminar. As such, we utilize readings, discussion, lectures, guest speakers and local events to enhance our understanding of the many dimensions and perspectives inherent in study of migratory movements, at scales ranging from global to local. Next offered Spring 2014.
Transportation Geography Seminar
A research seminar in which students will conduct an individual inquiry into transportation geography, from issues of transport problems and planning to the social and environmental effects of transport. The course will emphasize current research and planning trends, and new approaches (e.g. congestion pricing, urban growth limits) to a variety of traditional transportation problems. The course will also include guest speakers and field trips. Next offered Spring 2014.
Urban Geography Field Seminar
A research methods course in which students will conduct an individual inquiry in one of the following sub-fields of urban geography: spatial structure of urban areas; spatial interaction; problems of economic localization; and factors in intra-urban residential mobility. Students will be expected to participate in group projects which may produce either a written report or a map. The seminar focuses on topics of special interest to local communities and is part of Macalester’s Civic Engagement initiatives. Note: Completion of prior to registering for this seminar is strongly encouraged. Spring semester; not offered 2012–2013. Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor (4 Credits)