GEOG 597i
Critical Geospatial Thinking and Applications

Assignment 1


This exercise is worth up to seven total points (see grading rubric for weights), and includes four separate parts. The first three short-answer parts of the exercise are worth up to one point each and require concise, logical responses. The applied essay also requires you to provide a clearly stated response that demonstrates a solid grasp of the materials covered in lectures and in the text book.

Part 1:  Short Answer Essay (1 point):

In one paragraph, describe the transcendent theme of the discipline of geography.

Part 2:  Short Answer Essay (1 point):

In one paragraph, describe Pattison's four traditions of geography.

Part 3:  Short Answer Essay (1 point):

In one paragraph, defend or refute the following statement: "....the way of life of a community is almost exclusively determined by the nature of the physical environment in which they live."

Part 4: Applied Essay (4 points):

The Scenario

You were hired two years ago by a small four-year college to teach an introductory class in world geography, a basic cultural geography course, and an introductory physical geography course (with lab). Another geographer teaches basic economic geography, GIS, and cartography.
Currently, all of these courses can be used to meet certain general studies requirements for an undergraduate degree. The introductory physical geography course is required for a general science degree, and the world regional geography course is required for a degree in elementary education. Additionally, social science majors must complete world regional geography and economic geography.

Unfortunately, the new president of the college now questions whether or not geography is actually an essential discipline. In part, she is doing this as a result of pressure by the governing board to cut back on required courses, thereby making it easier for students to complete degree programs, and to eliminate redundancy in order to save money. As a result, she has proposed the elimination of all geography courses by arguing that geography courses often address material adequately covered in a variety of other courses. Why, she asks, does the college need to offer economic geography when the economics department teaches basic economics? Moreover, she sees world regional geography as redundant because the Anthropology Department teaches a course on the people of the world. She is also convinced that the Physical Geography Course (with lab) simply duplicates courses already taught by the Geology, Biology, and Climatology Departments.

Because course enrollments drive departmental funding, some members of the other departments mentioned above would not mind seeing the end of geography on their campus. Most, however, would not agree to eliminate geography if they believed that the geography courses were not redundant and if they were convinced that they played a major positive role in preparing students for their future roles as professional.

The Task

You have been given the task of developing and delivering a fifteen to twenty minute presentation to the governing board designed to convince them that geography courses are not redundant, but are instead an essential part of the college educational mission. What would you say to the governing board? Please remember that you have only fifteen to twenty minutes to make your case. You will turn in a paper (no more than three pages; single spaced; standard font) detailing your argument. You may also turn in PowerPoint slides to further illustrate your argument, but this is not a requirement.


Due Dates

Please see due dates in Canvas for submitting your assignment.

Additionally, you must critique at least one classmate's post and submit it in the appropriate assignment.

Check the Syllabus and Course Calendar for specific due dates.

The Deliverables

See the details of the task above. Your paper should be no longer than one page of single-spaced text using 12-point Times New Roman font with one inch margins. You must have a title and your name on the paper as well as in the file name. If you would like to add visual elements, you may supplement your paper with PowerPoint slides that you might use in a presentation. Slides are not mandatory, but are recommended.

Please submit a half-page critique of at least one of your peers' papers by the due date.

Submitting Your Assignment

Post your deliverables in the Lesson 1 Assignment in Canvas.

Grading Information and Rubric

This assignment is worth 7 points.

Grading Rubric
Criteria Full Points Half points No points
Mastery of Subject Matter Demonstrates substance and depth; is comprehensive; shows mastery of material Covers topic; uses appropriate sources; is objective Does not give adequate coverage of topic; lacks sources
Clarity of Thought Addresses the topic with clarity; organizes and synthesizes information thoughtfully; and draws logical conclusions from available information; reader can easily follow the line of reasoning Addresses the topic; lacks substantive conclusions; sometimes digresses from topic; reader may struggle at times following line of reasoning Presents little to no clarity in formulating conclusions and/or organization
Accuracy of Interpretation and/or Computation Shows a high level of accuracy when interpreting and/or computing data; presents the correct response Shows an acceptable level of accuracy when interpreting and/or computing data; answer may not be completely correct, but shows understanding Inaccurately interprets and/or computes data resulting in incorrect answers
Clarity of Presentation Is free or almost free of errors (grammar, spelling, and writing mechanics); appropriately documents sources Has errors, but they don't represent a major distraction; documents sources Has errors that obscure meaning of content or add confusion; neglects important sources or documents few to no resources