Geography of the
GEA 3635, U01. Spring 2010
Class Location: GC 288 Time: 2:00-2:50 p.m. M, W, F
Instructor: Benjamin Smith Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: DM 437B Office Phone: 348-2074
Office Hours: MWF: 1:30-1:50; M: 3:00-4:30; W: 3:00-3:50
Teaching Homepage Which You Must Check Frequently: http://www.fiu.edu/~bsmith/teaching.htm
There is More to the Middle East than the Headlines
This is going to be the theme of this course. I also imagine, since you are going to devote an entire semester to studying the region, you have that inkling, too. You are probably thinking that there is more to life for the 300-400 million people (depending on what countries are included) who call this region home than 1) gender oppression and 2) violence. If this is what you are thinking, you are, of course, right.
In this course, while we will address issues that grab headlines –
Israel/Palestine conflict, the state of
We will also do all this from a geographic prospective. On the one hand this means a grab bag approach – environment, politics, economics and culture are all fair game. On the other hand, this also mean paying attention to geographic perspectives such as how humans interact with the natural and built environment, how ideas and people diffused through the region over time, and how the region came to be defined as it.
an understanding of the diversity of the Middle East. The “
able to critically examine what you hear about the
The State of
Monday, January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (No Class)
Monday, February 1 – Exam One
Friday, February 26 – Last Day to Drop Course with DR grade
Friday, March 8 – Exam Two
March 15-19 – Spring Break (No Class)
Friday, April 2 – Project Due
Sometime between April 19-23 – Final Exam
There will be 500 total points available in this class, broken down as follows:
100 points: Travel Guide
75 points: Attendance and Participation
100 points: Exam 1
100 points: Exam 2
125 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, map identification, 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 slightly different – mostly, it is an exam over new material covered since the second exam; but it also will have one 10 point essay which summarizes the course, and an expanded map section that requires you to label all the countries in the region – which should be easy by that point in the semester. So the Final Exam is basically the same as the other exams, just with one comprehensive question and a few more map items.
Exam 1: 100 pts
Exam 2: 100 pts.
Final: 125 pts
more specifics will be given soon, you will be required to produce one travel
guide covering somewhere in the
Attendance and Participation Points, Reading & Classroom Etiquette
There will be oodles – oodles I say! – of information covered in this course. You need to be in class to learn it all. This is especially true because lectures, while drawing on the readings, will expand upon them as well. You will not do well on the tests unless you come to class.
Similarly, if you do not do the readings, you will not do well on the tests. This is especially true on essays questions based on more conceptual readings – though we will cover the readings in class, you will not understand them fully unless you read and then re-read them.
To reward you for reading and attendance, I will have various easy point opportunities throughout the semester. Sometimes they will be announced tasks – like bringing three questions to class about the reading for discussion. Other times, they will be unannounced – like having a quick individual quiz about the reading that asks a few, really simple questions. If the reading is particularly theoretical, I will put you into groups during class so you and your classmates can hash it out together. These are meant to be low stress, and providing everyone makes a good faith effort (and attends), these points should be easy to get. Even easier to get are the points where I simply mark down everyone who is there and brought there name cards with them.
However, these points can also be taken away, at the instructor’s discretion, in extreme circumstances, due to regularly bad behavior. Reasons for losing points include being aggressive, rude or dismissive towards your fellow students or the instructor. Though people may express opinions different than your own in this class, you are free to disagree – providing you do so in calm, courteous manner. This is especially important because we will be covering some sensitive, divisive subjects during this class. Points can also be taken away if a student shows lack of engagement by talking to other students while the instructor, guest or another student is speaking, repeatedly reading the newspaper, using their cell phone or mp3 player, doing homework for other classes, or using their notebook computer for IM’s (not note-taking). However, I doubt it will come to this. So basically, respect everyone, and this should be a great semester. If points are taken, the student will be notified as to why.
Attendance quizzes and activities will contribute a maximum of 75 points to your final grade. There will likely be more than 75 points made available during the semester, meaning if you miss a class or have an off day, you will still be able to receive full attendance credit.
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, as well as the course schedule and instructions for the paper and paper proposal. Additionally, I will post study guides for the exams there and there only – meaning I will not be handing out copies of the study guides in class.
Also, I will post supplemental on the online.fiu.edu website – those should be posted shortly.
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. Please do not call outside of office hours, and just email instead – games of phone tag usually don’t end well. If you e-mail me, please put “GEA 3635” or “Geography of the M.E.” in the subject line – so I know what class you are in. Also, pretty please put your name in the email, so I know who I am replying to.
Earning the Grade You Want & (A Small Amount of) Extra Credit
If you are doing poorly in the class, the time to ask how you can do better is not right before, and especially not right after, the Final. If you do badly on the first or second test PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come to office hours or make an appointment to see me as soon as possible after that test, and I will help you devise strategies to study more effectively.
there will be an opportunity to receive extra credit in the course by attending
lectures affiliated with the
Academic Integrity, Cheating and Plagiarism:
Cheating and plagiarism are done by pathetic and desperate people – don’t be one of them. If you plagiarize on your travel guide, or cheat on an exam – you will receive at minimum a zero on that assignment, which instantly drops your score for the course by about two full letter grades. If you find yourself in a desperate situation while taking a test or up against a deadline – turn in the best work you can do at the time. Getting an F usually means you will get some points – getting caught cheating means you get zero. Furthermore, depending on the severity of the case, I can choose to pursue harsher penalties, including assigning an F0 for the course or pursuing your expulsion.
It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the FIU student handbook’s sections on cheating and plagiarism. Also, if you need to know more about how to not plagiarize, please check out the following websites.
“Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It (
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 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 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 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. PLEASE NOTE THE DAY AND TIME OF THE FINAL
EXAM: NO MERCY FOR THOSE WHO TRY TO
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.
HERE’S TO A GOOD SEMESTER AND BEST OF LUCK!