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World Regional Geography

GEA 2000, U02.  Fall 2006


Class Location: PC 438 Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.  M,W

Instructor:  Benjamin Smith   Email: bsmith@fiu.edu

Office: DM 437B Office Phone: 348-2074

Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 11:30-12:15, 2:00-3:15, or by appointment

Teaching Homepage Which You Must Check Frequently: http://www.fiu.edu/~bsmith/teaching.htm


So you want to know everything there is to know about the world? (or perhaps fulfill a requirement)


Either way, you have come to the right place.   It is my hope that this course will be one the broadest ranging, most chocked full o’ information courses you will take in college.  I also hope it will be one of the most enjoyable.   For nearly every area of the world, we will discuss environment, politics, culture, economy… well just about everything.  We will cover not only what is out there, but also the major patterns and processes which cut across regions that explain why what is out there is where it is.


This is a foundational course.


Consider this course to be “anatomy of the world.”    In medicine, anatomy is the foundation of everything.  You cannot operate, prescribe medicine or do anything particularly effectively (or at least not know why it is effective) without knowing anatomy.   This course is the equivalent for geography, but I would also argue it is potentially equally foundational for many of you who are not in geography.    If you are in business, chances are some aspects of your operation (raw materials, labor, suppliers, customers, etc.) will be located outside the local area.  If you are an engineer, environmental factors and social factors help determine what is appropriate to create, as well as how it is created.    If you’re a doctor, you will be treating patients from all over the world, and it helps to know a little bit about where they are from.    Law is getting increasingly internationalized, and the list goes on and on.    And as a human being, who has respect for other human beings, it is important to know what the rest of planet is like.  Gaining basic knowledge about the world and how it works is the first step to becoming a good citizen of the world.


This means there will be a lot of information and ideas presented in this course, but I think it will be information that will in someway be useful, or at least enlightening, for you.   Thus you must come prepared to class, and be prepared to learn.


The Goals of the Course

1.      Have a basic awareness about what is out there in the world. This includes countries, economic activities, international institutions, environmental problems, cultural complexes, etc.   This does not mean you will need to know the name of every mountain, river, and provincial capital in the world.   But it does mean that when some place or some issue is raised in the news, other courses, etc. you have an idea about what is being discussed, or at least enough of an idea to begin to learn more based on related information.

2.      Understand major processes that shape the world.  Very little which happens on earth happens in isolation.   Large processes – such as trade, religion, and migration – cut across countries, regions, and hemispheres.  Thus, it is not enough to know what is out there; it is equally important to understand how things work.

3.      Be able to critically examine what you hear about the world.  This is not about you adopting mine, or anyone else’s, perspective on the world.    What this is about is realizing that there are multiple perspectives about many of the world’s big and little issues, and being able to examine your’s and others’ assumptions about how the world works.   This does not mean not having a position, only a willingness to examine other perspectives on their own terms.


Required Texts

World Regional Geography (without sub-regions): Global Patterns, Local Lives, 3rd Edition. By Lydia Pulsipher.  W.H. Freeman   ISBN: 0-7167-6825-9

Student Atlas of World Geography, 4th Edition. By John Allen. McGraw-Hill/Dushkin.  ISBN:  0-07-299846-6


Important Dates

Monday, September 4, Labor Day, No Class

Wednesday, September 13, First Map Quiz – North, Central and South America

Wednesday, September 27, First Exam

Wednesday, October 9. Second Map Quiz – Europe, Russia and the Newly Independent States

Wednesday, October 25, Third Map Quiz – North Africa, Southwest Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Wednesday, November 1, Second Exam

Friday, November 3, Last Day to Drop Course with DR grade

Wednesday, November 15, Fourth Map Test – South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

Wednesday, November 29, Writing Assignment Due

Monday, December 11, Final Exam



There will be 500 total points available in this class, broken down as follows:


  50 points: Map Quizzes

  50 points: Attendance Quizzes & Activities

  50 points: Writing Assignment 

100 points: Exam 1

100 points: Exam 2

150 points: Final Exam  

500 points Total  


The grading scale is A = 100-93%, A- = 92.9-90%, B+ = 89.9-87%, B = 86.9-83%, B- =82.9%-80%, C+ = 79.9-77%, C = 76.9-73%,  C- = 72.9-70%, D+ = 69.9-67%, D = 66.9-63%, D- = 62-60% F = 59-0%, which translates to, in points:



A :  500 thru 465 points

A-: 464 thru 450 points

B+: 449 thru 435 points

B:   434 thru 415 points

B-:  414 thru 400 points

C+: 399 thru 385 points

C:   384 thru 365 points

C-:  364 thru 350 points

D+: 349 thru 335 points

D:   334 thru 315 points

D-:  314 thru 300 points

F:   299 thru 0 points         





Each exam will be a combination of multiple choice, matching, and short answers/miniature essays, drawn from lectures, readings, videos, etc. – basically anything covered in class or assigned in reading.


The first two exams are non-cumulative, meaning they cover material not previously tested.   The Final Exam, however, is a combination – for the most part, it an exam over new material covered since the second exam; but it also has a cumulative portion, that focuses on major issues which cut across all sections of the course.  Thus:


Exam 1:   100 pts (all material from beginning of class).

Exam 2:   100 pts. (all material since the first exam)

Final:      150 pts (100 pts of material since second exam, plus 50 points worth of questions on major issues)



Map Quizzes


Throughout the semester there will be four map quizzes, which test your knowledge of where the world’s stuff is on maps.  The features that will be tested include, but are not limited to: countries, cities, rivers, seas, mountains, peninsulas, and sub-regions.


You will be given a study list in advance of each map quiz, to help make your task easier.


Map quizzes will contribute a maximum of 50 points towards your final grade.   However, there will be more than 50 points of map questions offered during the semester.   This means you can miss several questions on map quizzes over the course of the semester, and still receive the full 50 points.   This means if you have one poor quiz, or solid, if not perfect, performance on all quizzes, then you will still receive full points.


Attendance, Attendance Quizzes & Activities, and Participation

You are expected to attend every class just as I am, especially since I am going to give you points for doing so.  Arrive at all lectures prepared.  This means having read and considered the material assigned for that class.   This does not mean committing the entire selection to memory before each class; it does mean you have spent enough time on the reading, so that when I bring up a topic or place in class, you know a little something about it.


To keep track of attendance and give you incentive to be prepared, I will have “attendance quizzes,” which will require you to answer very simple questions about that day’s reading, or an in class activity, which will draw on your knowledge of the days reading.  To keep the stress level down, as long as the class by and large does well on the attendance quizzes, everyone who turned in a quiz will receive full-credit for that quiz and I will not grade the next one individually either.  However, if the class as a whole does poorly, I will be forced to grade the subsequent quiz individually. NOTE: Please bring paper to class.


Attendance quizzes and activities will contribute a maximum of 50 points to your final grade.   Like with the map quizzes, there will be more than 50 points of attendance points available – meaning you can miss a class or perhaps have an off day on the reading.


Participate actively in lecture.  This means actively processing the information and participating where appropriate.  Ask questions and engage (which means no reading of the newspaper, use of cell phone or mp3 player, or doing homework for other classes), while being respectful of other students and their opinions.    I want everyone do well: being in class and engaged is a big part of that.


Writing Assignment

While more specifics will be given later in the semester, there will be a short, typed writing assignment that will be worth 50 points.  This assignment will be an opportunity for you to communicate, in an organized, thoughtful way, your level of understanding of, and ability to apply, the core concepts of this course.  This is not a research paper (although it will likely involve watching a film outside of class); instead, consider it more of a take-home essay question.   It will be due on Wednesday, November 29, at the beginning class, and must be submitted in both physical form (typed and stapled) and electronically (in order to check for plagiarism).


Absences, Make-Up

Excused absences include serious illness; illness or death of an immediate family member; University-sponsored trips; and major religious holy days.  It is your responsibility to inform me of the absence in advance by e-mail (and as soon as possible if it is a university event or holy day), but no later than two class sessions after the missed class.  In order to have an absence excused, you must provide sufficient documentation.   If this is done, I will do my best make sure you make up what you missed.


Make-up exams will only be given in extreme circumstances, and the make-up exam will not be the same one given to those who took the test on the established date.  There is no excuse to miss paper deadlines – you can always finish early.


Teaching Website, On-Line Articles, and Updates

At the top of this document, you will find the address for my teaching homepage, which is http://www.fiu.edu/~bsmith/teaching.htm .  There will be a copy of the syllabus there, the course schedule, handouts, exam quiz review sheets, and links to in class reading assignments – anything I hand out.    In addition, I will keep a blog (which will be accessible from the teaching page) for this class on which I will post announcements (such as the unlikely event of a class cancellation), answer questions and link to articles which are related to the class that I come across.   Thus, if you have a question about the structure of the class (due dates, test structure, etc.), check the website and the blog, because the answer will probably be there. 


Office Hours & Making Contact

My office hours are posted at the top of this document.  If you are having trouble at all, I strongly encourage you to stop by or call during office hours, or make an appointment to do so.   My job is to make sure you learn the material, not just to assign grades.  I will also try my best to answer questions via e-mail, but realize that apart from teaching this class, I am also teaching a second course, doing research, and administrative work, thus the quickest, best way to get an answer is to stop by or call me during office hours.


Academic Integrity, Cheating and Plagiarism:


Since you will have a brief writing assignment for this class, you must be careful to avoid plagiarism.  Do not try to turn in an essay you downloaded from the internet, do not change a few a words in one and hand it in.   The writing assignment in this class will require so little time, you are a sad, pathetic, human being if you have to cheat at it (plus you will fail the assignment).  Familiarize yourself with the penalties for “Academic Misconduct” in the student handbook, and to learn more about how not to plagiarize, go to the following websites (suggested to me by Gail Hollander)


1) “Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It (Indiana University)” at http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/plagiarism.html

2) “Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words (Purdue University)” at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_paraphr.html


Also, this goes without saying, but do not cheat on the exams.



Here’s to a good semester and best of luck!


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