GEOG 386 - Special Topics
Devoted to a specific topic unique for each semester and instructor. May be repeatable for credit.; SPRING 2021 SEC. 1: ENERGY GEOGRAPHIES -This course will examine the rapidly changing geographies of energy production, distribution, and consumption, with particular attention to : i) how transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources might transform those geographies; ii) the implications of such transition for social justice, sustainability, and other aspects of human geography (e.g., of economic activity, landscape formation, etc.); and iii) the theoretical and political frameworks we use to understand such dynamics.; SEC. 2:CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES: RACE, INDIGENEITY, AND NATURE-This course will critically look at how ideas of “race” and “indigeneity” are intertwined with “nature” in a U.S. American context. Nature is often imagined as external to human society and culture. However, many social scientists and humanities scholars criticize the Eurocentric separation of nature and culture and of environment and society. We will focus in particular on environmental histories and ideas of nature that are entangled in settler-colonialism, racial oppression, eugenics, militarization, pollution, catastrophe, and health. At the same time, this course will present critiques of how nature is mobilized for empire in the United States, by presenting alternative ideas of nature from selected indigenous studies and critical race scholarship. This course will integrate social scientific and humanities-based critiques of nature and the environment that intersect with settler-colonial, indigenous, and critical race studies. Students will be expected to read and prepare notes on several complex texts to discuss in class session each week. To prepare for these discussions, students will submit online reflections of each text for others to read and comment on. Each week, one group of students will be responsible for preparing discussion questions and topics and facilitate discussions. Students will be responsible for a final research paper on one particular topic in the course, related to their own interests. Students will hand in several assignments over the course of the seminar: an outline of their proposed final paper, an annotated bibliography, an introduction, and the final paper.
FALL 2020 SEC. 1: ARBORETUM RESEARCH- This course is predominantly field-based (i.e., outdoors three times per week) and focuses on improving the condition of Clark University’s Hadwen Arboretum. Students will learn techniques in tree health maintenance and forest inventory. Students will also participate in trail maintenance and the creation of a new trail for public access. Training in power tools wills will also be provided. The goal of this section of the course is to enhance the ecological integrity of the Hadwen Arboretum and update a GIS database for online consumption.; SEC. 2: ENERGY GEOGRAPHIES -This course will examine the rapidly changing geographies of energy production, distribution, and consumption, with particular attention to : i) how transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources might transform those geographies; ii) the implications of such transition for social justice, sustainability, and other aspects of human geography (e.g., of economic activity, landscape formation, etc.); and iii) the theoretical and political frameworks we use to understand such dynamics.; SEC. 3: HABITAT MODELING-Species distribution models (SDMs), are increasingly used to evaluate the impacts of global change on biodiversity, to assess protection status, and for protected areas planning. This 7 week course introduces students to habitat modeling methods and applications. The course starts with an introduction to ecological niche modeling, and continues with topics of data gathering, pre-processing, modeling (including statistical and machine learning algorithms), and validation. Topics will be covered through a combination of lectures, discussion of assigned readings and take home exercises.; SEC. 4: ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST -This course will critically explore the contemporary and historical environmental issues associated with the Middle East in order to understand the relationship between nature, politics, colonialism, culture, and geography. First, the course will interrogate the geographic label, “Middle East,” to understand how American and European literature, politics, and culture created different bodies of knowledge and replicated popular discourses that justify intervention in West Asia and North Africa. Understanding the “Middle East” as a geographical construction also allows us to critically think through how environmental issues are interconnected with the global histories of colonialism, imperialism, and empire, as well as the local political, cultural, and environmental diversity of the contemporary “Middle East,” that is, North Africa, Western Asia, and Mediterranean states.
Anticipated Terms Offered: fall & spring