Geography 280

GEOG 280

Catalog Entry

GEOG 280. Regional Geography (SS) (3)
Three hours lecture

In-depth examination of a selected non-U.S. world region. Includes physical, socio-economic, historical and contemporary spatial patterns. Region covered will vary from semester to semester. May be taken for credit more than once when regions differ.


Detailed Description of Course

This course introduces students to contemporary landscapes and peoples in one non-US region of the world from a spatial perspective. Today's spatial patterns are understood by examining natural, cultural and historical preconditions and changing economic and political interrelationships. Regional geography is by its very nature broad in scope, even if attention is confined to a relatively small portion of the earth’s surface. It introduces students to many of the multiple facets of geography as an academic pursuit, as the outline below indicates.

General outline of course content:

I. Introduction: discussion of common perceptions and misconceptions of the region by citizens of the US
II. The Natural Setting

  • Major landforms and hydrologic features
  • Climate
  • Natural regions: vegetation
  • Environmental issues

III. Peoples of the Region

  • Ethnicity, language, and religion
  • Migrations past and present
  • Population distribution and dynamics, including urbanization

IV. Settlement and Economic Activity

  • Colonial patterns (when relevant)
  • Agricultural land uses and trends
  • Mining and other extractive practices
  • Industrial development
  • Urban patterns
  • Transportation patterns
  • Economic alliances and roles in the global economy
  • Geopolitical realities and worldviews

V. Country by country analysis of selected contemporary spatial patterns and trends

Different emphases will be given according to the interests and expertise of the various instructors.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A lecture format prevails and is supplemented by outside readings, homework assignments, and discussion. Assignments emphasize description and explanation of spatial patterns and often involve the use or construction of maps in order to understand the ways human activities are structured across space.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. Goals specific to course:

Upon completion of this course, students will

  • Know the major distribution patterns in the physical geography (landforms, surface hydrology, climate, and vegetation) of the region.
  • Know the major distribution patterns of the population geography of the region, including ethnic groups, languages, religions, and demographic characteristics.
  • Know the major distribution patterns of the contemporary economic geography of the region, including agriculture, industry, urban versus rural relationships, and levels of development.
  • Understand the development of modern cultural landscapes, economic conditions and geopolitical situations.
  • Have developed skills in interpreting maps and putting spatial data onto base maps.
  • Have developed skills in collecting spatial data.
  • Have developed skills in the presentation of results of geographic research.
  • Have gained an appreciation of others' worldviews.

Goals of General Education Program

  • Students will develop the ability to think critically and creatively about spatial relationships in the modern world and understand how these relationships have developed through time.
  • Students will be introduced to a variety of tools, methods and data used in geographic analysis.
  • Students will use Internet and other computer technologies to retrieve geographic data.
  • Students will acquire a geographic perspective, permitting them to identify cultural values and historic precedents that shape regional and international relationships both here and abroad.

Goals for Area 5. International and Intercultural Studies.

  • Students will develop not only an awareness of but also a basic knowledge of cultures in a non-US region of the world by studying these cultures in their unique geographic contexts.
  • Students will identify and discuss in geographical or spatial terms important global issues and the interactions of peoples and places across time.
  • Students will come to appreciate diversity and be able to analyze similarities and differences among cultures and places that impact both their own and other people’s perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • Students will come to understand how people in a different part of the world see themselves and others.

Goals for Area 8. Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Students will understand how geographers approach the study of a place and its peoples.
  • Students will know how to collect geographic data, analyze and present spatial information, and solve geographic problems related to people and their use of the lands they inhabit.
  • Students will acquire basic geographic knowledge and skills that they can apply in evaluating and interpreting their own culture region as well as those elsewhere in the world.
  • Students will understand cultural factors that through time have shaped spatial interactions.
  • Students will understand the diverse ways in which human relations have been structured across space, time and cultures.


Assessment Measures

Assessment of a student's performance will be based on at least two midterm examinations, homework assignments, a term project and its presentation and a final comprehensive examination. It may also include quizzes, journals, portfolios and class participation in discussion. The weight of each assessment item will be determined by the individual instructor and announced during the first week of classes.

To assess the attainment of the broad general education goals, essay-type questions on exams and term papers/projects require synthesis of a variety of information related to both the natural and social sciences and presentation of that data in well-conceived narratives and graphics.

To assess the attainment of specific Area 5 goals, students will be asked in homework assignments, examinations, and projects to express a regional culture's characteristics in terms of the spatial patterns and interactions that form(ed) their area's unique environmental and historical milieu.

To assess the attainment of specific Area 8 goals, students will be challenged in assignments, exams and projects to demonstrate their skills in working with geographic data to interpret the ways human relations are structured across space, time and cultures.


Other Course Information

The region selected to be studied in a particular semester will be identified in the class schedule for that semester. For example: GEOG 280. Regional Geography: Russia.



September 2005 Reviewed Bernd H. Kuennecke