GEOG 497I
Introduction to Geospatial Critical Thinking: The Fundamentals

GEOG 497i Syllabus

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This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. That said, it is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Orientation. Together these serve the role of our course "contract."


Instructors

Lead Instructor & Co-developer

Dr. Dennis J. Bellafiore: Senior Lecturer, Geospatial Intelligence Program, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is lead instructor for GEOG 497i and supporting instructor for GEOG 597i.

  • Skype phone: djbellafiore
  • Office phone: (717) 826-0606 (The country code for the United States is 1.)
  • Course e-mail: Please use the course e-mail system (see the Communicate tab in the LMS).
  • Personal e-mail: dxb45@psu.edu
  • FAX: (814) 863-1564 (The country code for the United States is 1. Please send the Fax to my attention. Please note that a Fax is sent to the State College Campus, and then forwarded to me as an e-mail. If possible, send a scanned copy to me via Canvas e-mail for faster turnaround.)
  • Availability: Please call or e-mail me to schedule a time that is convenient for you.

Co-instructor & Lead Developer

Dr. George A. Van Otten: Senior Lecturer, Geospatial Intelligence Program, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is supporting instructor for GEOG 497i and lead instructor for GEOG 597i.

  • Cell phone: (520) 236-2654
  • Course e-mail: Please use the course e-mail system (see the Communicate tab in the LMS).
  • Personal e-mail: gav10@psu.edu
  • Availability: I check e-mail daily and am available for a live chat on an appointment basis.

E-mail: Please contact your instructors through the course e-mail system in CANVAS. Always send correspondence to All Course Faculty to ensure that any course assistants also receive the note.


GEOG 497i is an elective course in the Geospatial Intelligence Certificate, the Intercollege Master of Professional Studies (iMPS-HLS), and the Master of Geographic Information Systems degree program that is offered exclusively through Penn State's World Campus. The course consists of projects, associated readings, and exams. Geography 497i is a new course and first starts Semester 2, Fall 2015, October 7, 2015. We would appreciate your feedback and suggestions to further improve the course.

Over the last century, the discipline of geography has evolved from an emphasis on describing the nature of earth as the home of human beings through discovery, informed observations, spatial inventories, and mapping to a growing interest in spatial theory, and an increasing reliance on quantitative models. Therefore, whereas most 19th and early 20th century geographers dedicated their research efforts to identifying and discovering spatial processes, and to the description of global variations and similarities in systems of human occupancy, modern professional geographers progressively rely on quantitative models as they seek to create, test, and validate theories of spatial interaction. Nevertheless, despite their growing emphasis on spatial theories and models, modern geographers remain committed to the transcendent focus of their august predecessors; the accurate description of the nature of earth as the home of humankind.


Course Objectives

This course is relatively narrow in scope in that it almost exclusively focuses on the nature and basic utility of applied models of spatial analysis. Successful participants will be able to demonstrate comprehension of the utility of, and the ability to, accurately apply the analytical models presented in this course. More specifically, successful students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in the application of models that deal with rural, urban, physical, economic, behavioral, demographic, and industrial spatial realities.

Course Expectations

Successful participants will:

  1. Be prepared to offer critical appraisals of all assigned reading materials.
  2. Complete and turn in all assignments on time.
  3. Actively and respectfully participate in discussions (on-line or in other formats as appropriate).
  4. Successfully complete a final (open-book) exercise.
  5. Submit written work (other than the final exercise) that is properly documented in accordance with the college citation guide posted at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

You will be challenged to move beyond the knowledge and skills that you bring to the class. A rough estimate is that you should allow 3-9 hours per week for class assignments. Included in the 3-9 hours each week is time to complete projects and related activities. All learning can be asynchronous. You will find it beneficial to collaborate with class members, synchronously or asynchronously, to gain different insights and perspectives. Please be sure to complete assignments by the published deadline in the Canvas Calendar.

You will need to check the course discussions regularly. That's where students and the instructor share comments, pose questions, and suggest answers. Please get in the habit of logging in to the course website every day to check in on the class. As an instructor, I read and respond to Canvas e-mail and discussions at least once per day during the work week (Monday through Sunday). If I anticipate not being able to log in for more than a day, I will let everyone know and also clearly state when you can next expect to hear from me. If you have a question regarding an assignment due at 11:55 pm Eastern Time (3:55 am GMT), I must receive your question via Canvas e-mail no later than 12:00 pm Eastern Time (4:00 pm GMT) on that day. Queries may not receive a response if sent after noon Eastern Time (4:00 pm GMT) on the date an assignment is due!


Required Course Materials

Please read the materials carefully for understanding and application, but not for memory. They have been selected to expose you to a broad spectrum of works on topics that relate to critical geospatial thinking. Memorizing them would not be a good investment of your time. You will be able to use them when you work on assignments and during the final examination.

Required Textbook

  1. Husain, Majid, Models in Geography, Rawat Publications, Jaipur (2007, reprinted 2009) ISBN 81-316-0135-8 (hardcover) ISBN 81-316-0136-6 (paperback). [Please note: Rawat Publications, India, is one of the leading independent publishing houses in the Indian subcontinent with focused academic publishing in the Social Sciences and Humanities. As such you may find the grammatical structure and phraseology different than that in western publications.]

Penn State Library

As a Penn State student you have a wealth of library resources available to you! As a user of Penn State Libraries, you can...

  • search for journal articles (many are even immediately available in full-text)
  • request articles that aren't available in full-text and have them delivered electronically
  • borrow books and other materials and have them delivered to your doorstep
  • access materials that your instructor has put on Electronic Reserve
  • talk to reference librarians in real time using chat, phone, and e-mail
  • ...and much more!

To learn more about their services, see the Resources Tab or click here for Library Resources.


Assignments and Grading

Letter Grade and Corresponding Points
Letter Grade Points
A 90 - 100 points
A- 87.5-89.9 points
B+ 85-87.4 points
B 80-84.9 points
B- 77.5-79.9 points
C+ 75-77.4 points
C 70-74.9 points
D 60-69.9 points
F <60 points
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.

Requirements and Evaluations:

Course requirements consist of eight applied exercises that are based upon text and lecture material. The final exercise is comprehensive in scope. All exercises are open book; altogether, exercises count for 90% of the course grade. Class participation counts for 10% of the class grade:

Grading Rubric:

The grading criteria for exercises are as follows:

  1. Clarity of thought,
  2. Logic,
  3. Appropriate application,
  4. Accuracy, and,
  5. Clarity of presentation

The criteria for awarding class participation points is as follows:

  • All participants start the course with ten points for class participation.
  • Unexcused late assignments, missing assignments, and/or consistently careless work will result in a subtraction of participation points.

Assignment Points

Exercise 3 and final exercise 8 are each worth up to 15 points for a total of up to 30 points. The other six exercises are worth up to 10 points each for a total of up to 60 points. Collectively they account for 90% of the total course grade. Class participation is worth up to 10% of the final grade.

Please note that total university credit for successful completion of the course is one credit-hour.

Course Assignments
Week Lesson Tasks Possible Points
Week 1 Lesson 1:
Introduction - A Geography Primer
  • Click on the Orientation Tab on the menu above to become familiar with course organization, features, policies, and resources.
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 1.
  • Begin reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 1-35.
  • Lesson 1 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 1.
10
Week 2 Lesson 2:
Models and Theories
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 2.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 36-50.
  • Lesson 2 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 2.
10
Week 3 Lesson 3:
Systems and Modeling
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 3.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 51-142.
  • Lesson 3 Discussion Forum.
-
Week 4 Lesson 3:
Systems and Modeling
  • Continue reading the online lecture notes for Lesson 3.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 51-142.
  • Lesson 3 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 3.
15
Week 5 Lesson 4:
Urban Models
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 4.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 143-198.
  • Lesson 4 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 4.
10
Week 6 Lesson 5:
Rural Models
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 5.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 199-216.
  • Lesson 5 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 5.
10
Week 7 Lesson 6:
Demographics
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 6.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 217-255.
  • Lesson 6 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 6.
10
Week 8 Lesson 7:
Climatology
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 7.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 256-282.
  • Lesson 7 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 7.
10
Week 9 Lesson 8:
Final Exercise
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 8.
  • Begin working on Exercise 8.
-
Week 10 Lesson 8:
Final Exercise
  • Complete Exercise 8 by the date noted in Canvas.
  • Submit Exercise 8 using the dropbox in Canvas.
15


GEOG 497i Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Course length: 10 weeks
Below you will find a brief summary of the lesson tasks for this course and the associated time frames. Assignment information will be located on each lesson's checklist - so you will need to check there for the full set of details and deliverables. Sometimes the details for each lesson can change, and it's possible that the syllabus may not be updated as quickly as the lesson checklists, so always check specific lesson checklists for the latest details. This course is 10 weeks in length, with an orientation lesson available in the first week or preceding the official start of the course.

Note:

Please check the course calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.

Lesson 1: Introduction - A Geography Primer
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 1.
  • Begin reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 1-35.
Assignments:
  • Click on the Orientation Tab on the menu above to become familiar with course organization, features, policies, and resources.
  • Lesson 1 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 1
Lesson 2: Models and Theories
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 2.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 36-50.
Assignments:
  • Lesson 2 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 2.
Lesson 3: Systems and Modeling
READINGS:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 3.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 51-142.
ASSIGNMENTS:
  • Lesson 3 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 3.
Lesson 4: Urban Geography
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 4.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 143-198.
Assignments:
  • Lesson 4 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 4.
Lesson 5: Rural Models
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 5.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 199-216.
Assignments:
  • Lesson 5 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 5.
Lesson 6: Demographics
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 6.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 217-255.
Assignments:
  • Lesson 6 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 6.
Lesson 7: Climatology
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 7.
  • Continue reading Majid Husain, Models in Geography, pp. 256-282.
Assignments:
  • Lesson 7 Discussion Forum.
  • Complete Exercise 7.
Lesson 8: Final Exercise
Readings:
  • Read the online lecture notes for Lesson 8.
Assignments:
  • Begin working on Exercise 8.


Course Policies

Late Policy

Late homework is accepted under the following circumstances: (1) if prearranged with the instructor; (2) is the result of a documented emergency; or (3) if documented illness (see PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE SECTION below). The exam will be a zero unless these conditions are met. Other excuses are not valid.

Citation and Reference Style

Academic Integrity and Citation Style Guide

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on our "Program Technical Requirements" page. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable broadband Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or wireless hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure website, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our technical requirements page to view the mixed content.

Equations

This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Disability Resources at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation, see Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Attendance

This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Disclaimer

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.