World Regional Geography

GEA 2000, Fall 2007, U01-U09


Main Lecture Room: RDB 1100  Time: M,W 12:00-12:50 p.m. 

TA Section Room (all but U-08): GC 278B (U-08 is in GC 287A) 

Instructor:  Benjamin Smith   Email:   Office: DM 437B  Office Phone: 348-2074

Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 11:15 -11:45; Wednesday 2:00-5:00 or by appointment


Tuesday TA (U01-U03):  Cristian Melo     E-Mail:    Office Hours: Tue. 3:00-4:00 (DM437B)

Thursday TA (U04-U06):  David Suarez   E-Mail:     Office Hours: Thu. 9:30-10:45 (GL150)

Friday TA (U07-U09):  Amir Mirtaheri        E-Mail:       Office Hours: Fri. 12:15-1:15 (GL150)


Teaching Homepage Which You Must Check Frequently:




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 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 and IR, but I would also argue it is potentially equally foundational for many of you who are in other majors.    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 of what 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 course 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 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 in the Main Lecture (subject to possible hurricane-caused revision)

Monday, Sep. 3, No Class, University Closed, Labor Day

Monday, Sep. 24, First Exam

Monday, Oct. 29, Second Exam

Friday, Nov. 2, Last Day to Drop Course with DR grade

Friday, Dec. 14,   Final Exam  from 9:45-12:30      PLEASE NOTE: THE FINAL EXAM NOW STARTS AT 12:45 P.M. (instead of 9:45 A.M.)




Important Dates in Discussion Sections (also subject to possible hurricane-caused revision)

Sep. 11, 13 or 14   First Map Quiz – North America, Middle/South America and Caribbean

Oct. 16, 18 or 19   Second Map Quiz – Europe, Russia and the Newly Independent States

Nov. 6, 8, or 9       Third Map Quiz – North Africa, Southwest Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Nov.  20, 22, 23     NO TA Sessions – Thanksgiving

Nov. 27, 29 or 30   Fourth Map Test – South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

Friday, Dec. 7        No classes – students in TA sessions on this day need to attend review on Dec. 4 or 6



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


  50 points: Map Quizzes

100 points: Discussion Section Attendance & Participation

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         



Due to the large enrollment of this class, each exam will be multiple choice and completed on scantron.  Questions will be drawn from lectures, discussions, videos, etc. – basically anything covered in lecture and discussion.


On the first two exams, there will be 50 multiple choice questions.   The first exam will cover the Introduction, North America and Middle/South America.   The second exam will cover Europe, Russia, SW Asia & North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.


On the final, there will be 50 multiple choice questions covering South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. On top of that, there will be an additional section consisting of 25 multiple choice questions which will cover “trans-regional issues” we will have been discussing since the beginning of class (meaning this section comprehensive).



Since the tests are on scantron, you will need to bring a pencil with an eraser to the exams.    Also, since this course has such a large number of students, you will need to bring your FIU ID’s with you and show them to your TA when you turn the test in.


Map Quizzes

Throughout the semester there will be four map quizzes, given during your discussion section, 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.


Reading the Book

Reading the textbook before you come to class, even quickly, will help your grade greatly. I basically lecture from the book (with a little bit of added material of my own), and having an idea of what is coming up in lecture will allow you to more easily keep up with my pace.   Reading will also make you prepared for discussion section.   It’s also a repetition thing – you are more likely to remember if you see information in the book, then here it from me, then talk about it in discussion, then finally learn it through studying for the exam.


Attendance in the Lectures

Whether or not you come to the Monday and Wednesday lectures is up to you (except on days of the exam) – though I can almost guarantee those who do well in the class will show up.   It only makes sense.


If you come to the Monday and Wednesday lectures, I expect you to be on time, be engaged and non-disruptive to other students (which means no reading of the newspaper, use of cell phone or mp3 player, IM’ing, or doing homework for other classes).    Those students who keep other students from learning, or who are disrespectful of other students and/or the instructor will be asked to leave that day’s lecture. 


I want everyone to do well, and showing up on Monday and Wednesday will certainly help.


Attendance in the Discussion Sections

However, you must attend your weekly discussion section; this is because the benefit of discussion section only comes when all students are there.   As motivation to attend your discussion section, you will be receiving 100 points for attending and participating.   Getting all 100 of these points will help to boost your grade tremendously – not going means you can get no better than a C+ in the course.


You must attend the discussion section you signed up for when you registered for the class – you will not get credit if you show up at a different discussion section (it just becomes logistically impossible to keep track of otherwise).


To get attendance points, you must not only show up to discussion section, but also engage.   It will be at the discretion of discussion section TA to not award attendance points to students who demonstrate an active lack of engagement (by not participating in group exercises or by coming and doing something else like IM’ing, texting, listening to Ipod’s, or quilting), disrupt class or are disrespectful to other students.


You will get one free absence in discussion section – meaning that if you miss one class, you will still get full attendance points.


Absences, Make-Up

Excused absences include serious illness; illness of a spouse or dependent; death of an immediate family member; University-sponsored trips; and major religious holy days.  It is your responsibility to inform your discussion section TA of an absence from discussion section or an exam in advance of class by e-mail (and within 2 weeks of the start of class if it is a university trip or holy day), but no later than two class sessions after the missed class.  In order to have an absence excused, you must provide original documentation which the discussion section TA can keep.   If this is done, and the discussion section TA determines the absence to be excused, they will not figure the missed day (provided there is not a quiz or exam) into your grade.


Make-up exams and quizzes will only be given in extreme circumstances.  The make-up exam will not be the same one given to those who took the test on the established date, and will be given during the final examination period, during which time you will take both the make-up exam/quiz and the final.    To sit a make-up exam, you must 1) provide documentation to your TA in class within two class periods of the missed exam/quiz addressing why your absence qualifies as excused 2) have that documentation accepted by the TA 3) email your TA asking to be given a make-up exam and 4) receive back an email from your TA confirming a make-up exam will be given.


Your choices to attend or not attend have consequences – just like they would at work.    The TA’s and I take our responsibilities and roles as teachers seriously; I hope you hold your role and responsibility as a student in equal respect.


Teaching Website, On-Line Articles, and Updates

At the top of this document, you will find the address for my teaching homepage, which is .  There will be a copy of the main course syllabus, copies of all the TA section syllabi, the course schedule, exam study guides, map quiz study guides, and lecture outlines.    Apart from the syllabi and schedule, none of the rest of the materials will be handed out.  If you want them, you must go to the website.


In addition, the professor and TA’s will keep a blog (which will be accessible from the teaching page) for this class on which we will post announcements (such as the unlikely event of a class cancellation), answer questions and link to articles which are related to the class.  


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.  


Email, Office Hours & Making Contact

My office hours (as well the office hours of the TA’s) 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 any of our office hours (including my own), or make an appointment to do so.   Our job is to help you learn, not just to assign grades.


If you have a question, and cannot find the answer on the website or in the book, please, if you can, hold on to it until discussion section – because chances are other students have it as well and answering questions is what discussion section is for.   If the question is urgent, please feel free to email your discussion TA – their job is to make sure you are supported in this course.    You, of course, can also email me.   However, please recognize that each TA, besides leading three discussion sections with thirty students each, is also taking a full load of classes of their own, and that besides teaching this class, I teach another course, several independent studies, and am advising an honors thesis, as well as serving on committees and conducting research.    While we want you to learn and do your best, please respect the fact that we are people who only have 24 hours in a day, and that email from 300 people would take up most of that.  And check the website – it is designed to answer most of your questions before you ask them.


But again, let me repeat, above all, we want to help you succeed.  If you can’t figure out the answer, please email us.



Academic Integrity and Cheating:

This goes without saying, but do not cheat on the exams.   If you are caught cheating, you will receive a 0 on that exam or map quiz, which will do some serious damage to your grade.  







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