I always wanted to be a teacher, so I am grateful that I now have the opportunity to teach geography at a university. I love to work with students and to share my knowledge and experiences with them. Teaching is the best job in the world!
I teach the following classes at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh:
Geog. 102 World Regional Geography
Are you interested in other places? Do you appreciate cultural diversity? Are you concerned about human rights abuses and conflicts? Do you think about the reasons for economic disparities in the world? Are you worried about environmental degradation? These are only some of the questions geographers are interested in. In regional geography we study the physical, socio-cultural, economic, political and environmental characteristics of a particular world region. While we will explore these five themes for all world regions we will look at in this course, we will study one or two of these issues for each region in depth. At the end of this class, you will have good background knowledge about the most important issues shaping people’s experiences all over the world.
Geog 107: Peoples, Places, and Cultures of the World
The world is an incredibly diverse place. People live in very different environments. The characteristics of these environments, cultural attitudes, and many other factors shape how people live their lives. For example, in Papua New Guinea some people live in tree-houses for protection, in Tibet some children have to walk across frozen rivers to get to school, and in India some people use elephants for logging the dense forests. While these may be unusual examples, they illustrate the great diversity in how people live their lives. The distinct ways how people live in different parts of the world represent different cultures. “Culture” refers to a set of beliefs (e.g. religious beliefs), behaviors and customs (e.g. marriage arrangements), and lifeways (e.g. hunting and gathering) and is therefore a complex mosaic of different components. While there are almost limitless ways how culture could be studied, in this class we will focus on languages, religions, agricultural practices and food, housing, resource use, and sports of selected groups of people living in very different environments.
Geog. 111 Human Geography
Many people think that geography is to know where places are located on a map, but geography is much more than that. Geographers are interested in knowing why places are where they are, and how places and people interact with one another. Human geographers, in particular, look at how people transform the natural environment, and how they interact with specific places. In this class you will learn about the basic ideas, principles and concepts of human geography, develop an appreciation for cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, understand the fundamentals of population dynamics, agricultural and industrial production and use of natural resources, acquire the skills to analyze cities and political systems, and evaluate the impact of humans on the natural environment.
Geog 112: Honors Human Geography
Human geography is an exploration of all human activities on earth, ranging from how humans transform the environment to how they create cultural landscapes. In this class, we will talk about many of the big questions of our time, such as: How many people can the earth sustain? What can be done to control infectious diseases? What are the root causes of conflicts and how can they be resolved? How can we provide adequate housing and clean water for billions of urban residents? How can we use natural resources in a sustainable manner? In our explorations of case studies from around the world we will discover that geography matters in almost everything we do. Seeing the world through the eyes of a geographer will not only help us to understand our world better, but also to find solutions to some of the biggest problems facing humans today.
Geog. 319 Latin America
Latin America is a fascinating and complex region to study. It is diverse in landscapes, economic systems, political development as well as its people. Furthermore, it is linked to the United States in many ways. For example, US economic policies have a profound influence on economic development in Latin America, the US has frequently intervened in Latin American politics, and the US is the main recipient of migrants from Latin America. Wouldn’t you want to know more about the “other America”?
This course offers an overview of Latin American environments and peoples from a geographical perspective. In geography we study the changing connections among places, people, and ideas. In this course we will explore how the natural environment and the people who inhabit it shape contemporary Latin America and its relations with the rest of the world. We will explore the physical setting in Latin America, work through historical developments from the rise of ancient civilizations to the present day, examine cultural, demographic and religious characteristics of Latin Americans, learn about economic patterns and issues of development, discuss issues connected to urbanization and migration, and investigate conflicts and political developments in Latin America.
Geog. 324 Urban Geography
What do you associate with the term ‘city’? A place full of old and densely packed wood houses, or shining skyscrapers? Managers in business suits rushing to the next meeting, or a homeless person sleeping on a bench in the park? An area of concentrated entertainment, or concentrated crime? Uniform suburbs or creative architectural styles? The contemporary city is a place of contradictions and great diversity, and there are many interesting topics to explore. How did cities develop? How do cities function? How can we explain and maybe solve some of the problems in contemporary cities?
These are just some of the questions we will explore in this class. The primary goal of this class is to provide you with a historical and theoretical framework for understanding processes that have shaped and continue to shape cities around the world. In the first part of the class, we will trace the history of cities from the earliest urban settlements in Mesopotamia to modern cities. We will then turn our attention to the characteristics of contemporary cities in the developing world. Next, we will analyze urbanization and urban systems, as well as the internal structure of cities. Our next emphasis will be on social processes such as the increasing polarization of urban populations, segregation according to race, ethnicity and social class, and migration movements within cities. We will conclude the class by investigating some of the environmental problems cities face around the world.
Geog. 331 Europe
Contemporary Europe is a diverse region in terms of natural landscapes, political and economic systems, languages and cultures. It is also a region undergoing far-reaching transformations, most prominently the “velvet revolutions” in Eastern Europe since the late 1980s and the increasing integration and cooperation of European countries in the European Union. The diversity and the rapid changes make studying Europe both interesting and challenging for geographers. In this class we will explore five broad topic areas. We will start off by looking at the current social setting, such as demographic characteristics of the population, languages and religions, ethnic conflicts and migration. Next we will study the physiographic regions of Europe, natural resources and environmental challenges before turning our attention to the basic features of the European economy. We will then explore Europe’s urban history from ancient times to today. Next we will focus on the most important political developments after 1945, from the Cold War to the opening of the Berlin Wall. In the final part of the class we will examine the challenges and chances of European integration. Throughout the class, lectures will alternate with active learning components in which you will get a chance to contribute your knowledge to the class and cooperate with your fellow students. I am sure you will enjoy learning about Europe as much as I do, and I hope that this class will be a great experience for all of us!
Geog. 380 Research Methods
This course is an introduction to the methods used in contemporary geographic research. The goals of this course are to provide you with an overview of the numerous methods available, to enable you to formulate research questions and identify appropriate methods for investigating them, to help you understand some of the issues raised by these methods, and to give you guidance in trying out some of these methods. In order to achieve these goals, theoretical classes (in which we will learn about specific methods and discuss their advantages as well as limitations) will alternate with hands-on classes (in which we will apply these methods to small-scale projects).
Geog. 451 Advanced Topics in Human Geography: Geographical Perspectives on International Human Rights
Every day we hear about human rights violations committed in various parts of the world, such as genocide, trafficking of women, and child labor, yet few people have a good understanding of what leads to these human rights abuses and what could be done to stop them. In this class we will acquire general background knowledge about the history of human rights legislation, critically discuss explanations for human rights abuses, and evaluate measures to stop or prevent human rights violations. Rather than taking a theoretical approach, however, this class is organized around a number of case studies of specific types of human rights abuses occurring in a wide variety of countries in the world. This case study approach will show how the discipline of geography can contribute to the study of international human rights issues.
In fall 2014, I will be co-teaching a class on food with my colleague Larry Carlin from the Department of Philosophy. We will explore topics such as food production and consumption as well as related ethical issues from the perspectives of geography and philosophy.