Teaching Homepage


World Regional Geography

GEA 2000, Summer B, U02B


Class Location: GL 165   Time: 12:30-3:15 p.m.  M,W

Instructor:  Benjamin Smith   Email: bsmith@fiu.edu

Office: DM 437B Office Phone: 348-2074

Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 11:45 -12:15, 3:30-4:00 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 in 6½ weeks? (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.


This short course will be information intense!!!  If you do not study a little bit multiple times a week, you will be in a world of hurt.


There are only two tests, plus four map quizzes.   If you bomb a test (since there are only two, instead of three), it will be hard to recover.   I will trim the amount of information presented and the size of study guides some from when I taught this course in the fall, but you will still need to learn a ton of stuff.   If you don’t think you can handle the quick pace, take the course in the fall.


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 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, July 2, Class will not meet (instructor out of town) – PowerPoint and mp3 lecture on North America on course website

Wednesday, July 4, No Class, University Closed

Wednesday, July 11, First Map Quiz – North America, Middle/South America and Caribbean

Monday, July 16. Second Map Quiz – Europe, Russia and the Newly Independent States

Wednesday, July 18, First Exam

Monday, July 23, Third Map Quiz – North Africa, Southwest Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, July 24, Last Day to Drop Course with DR grade

Monday, July 30, Fourth Map Test – South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

Wednesday, August 8, Final Exam



There will be 400 total points available in this class, broken down as follows:


  50 points: Map Quizzes

150 points: Exam 1

200 points: Exam 2  

400 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 :  400 thru 372 points

A-:  371 thru 360 points

B+: 371 thru 348 points

B:   347 thru 332 points

B-:  331 thru 320 points

C+:  319 thru 308 points


C:   307 thru 292 points

C-:  291 thru 280 points

D+: 279 thru 268 points

D:   267 thru 252 points

D-:  251 thru 240 points

F:   239 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.


On the final, there will be a section very much like the first test that only covers material presented since the first test. On top of that, there will be an additional section which will have a small number of short essays which address global topics – I will give a list of these questions will in advance, and you will get to chose from a number these on the exam.  Thus:


Exam 1:    150 pts (all material from beginning of class).

Final Exam:      200 pts (150 pts of material since second exam, plus 50 points worth of essay on  global topics)



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.


Reading the Book


While I realize this is a short semester, it still helps you greatly if you quickly read the chapter before coming to class.   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 help you greatly with keeping up with my pace.    It’s a repetition thing – you are my likely to remember if you see it in the book, then here it from me, then finally learn it through studying for the exam.


Attendance and Participation

As a way to help soften the blow of a more compressed schedule and fewer possible point getting opportunities, I will be giving bonus points for those with good attendance and participation.   Therefore, I will take attendance every class at some point.    Here is how it will work:


         Miss 0 or 1 class: 12 bonus points (3% of final grade)

             Miss 2 classes:   6 bonus points (1.5% of final grade)


Remember, 3% is almost always a step up in grade from A- to A, C- to C, etc, so it is well worth your time to show up.


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.    As the instructor, I have the right to not give the bonus points to any student whom I feel is not participating actively or in a constructive way even if they are in class.


I want everyone do well: being in class and engaged is a big part of that. 


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 me of the absence 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 I can keep.   If this is done, and I determine the absence to be excused, I will do my best make sure you make up what you missed.


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 me in class within two class periods of the missed exam/quiz addressing why your absence qualifies as excused 2) have that documentation accepted by me 3) email me asking to be given a make-up exam and 4) receive back an email from me confirming a make-up exam will be given.


Your choices to attend or not attend have consequences – just like they would at work.    I take my responsibilities and role as a teacher 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 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 help you learn, 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 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 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 short semester and best of luck!