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Courses : Syllabi : 353

Geography 353 Location of Economic Activity


Pascale Joassart Marcelli

Course Description

The course is organized in five parts. After a brief introduction to economic geography and its different approaches, we turn our attention to the global scale and investigate the sources of uneven economic development and global inequality. In the third part, we focus on spaces of circulation, including flows of commodities, labor, capital, and knowledge, and the networks that bind them. The fourth part deals with spaces of production and investigates various types of production arrangements, emphasizing their consequences for workers’ wellbeing and the nature of work. In the last section, we study spaces of consumption, paying close attention to the role of culture.

The goals of the course are to engage students in the contemporary issues of economic life, expose them to current research questions in economic geography, and provide tools to interpret complex economic problems from a geographic perspective.

The central question that has traditionally been asked by economic geographers relates to the causes of uneven economic development at various scales: Why are some parts of the world more economically developed than others? Why do some regions grow faster than others? Why do some industries succeed in specific places?

While these questions remain important today, primarily because of the rapid globalization of economic activities and the associated transformation of production and consumption, economic geographers have increasingly turned their attention to the institutional, social, political, and cultural arrangements that shape and differentiate economic activities in various places. Thus new questions are being raised regarding everyday economic practices and the spatial processes that constitute them, including issues of industrial organization, consumption and lifestyle, the family and gender, ethnic networks, money and finance, etc. These themes will be discussed throughout the course.


Geography 101 or 102 recommended


Your grade in this course will be based on the following elements:

The readings for the course have been assembled from academic journals and books to cover a wide range of topics in economic geography. All the readings are available on Blackboard. You are required to read the assigned material before each class. This is extremely important because it will enhance your learning experience and promote better informed and more constructive class discussions.

There will be two midterms and one final examination for the class. Examinations will consist of definitions and multiple choice questions. Make-up exams will not be given (unless uncontrollable circumstances can be documented).

You will be asked to write three short essays (2 to 3 pages) in which you will apply the material discussed in class to analyze a current economic issue. Essay questions will be given in class and posted on Blackboard at least one week before the due date. No late paper will be accepted expect in case of documented emergency.

Participation is graded based on attendance and contribution to class activities. Regular and punctual attendance is required. If you are unable to attend a particular class or need to arrive late or leave early, please let me know in advance. In addition, there will be a number of short in-class group exercises or discussions that will be taken into account in your grade.

Books and Materials

All readings available on Blackboard.

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One
Part One
Intro to class
Week Two Capitalism (cont)
Economic Geography Traditions
Week Three
Part Two
Economic Development
New Economic Geography
Week Four The “Creation” of the Third World
“A Flat World?”: Globalization and the Eradication of Space
Week Five Regional Differentiation
Midterm One
Week Six
Part Three
Trade and Commodity Chains
International Labor Migration
Week Seven Transportation
Money and Finance
Week Eight
Part Four
The End of Manufacturing?
Industrial Districts and Flexible Production
Week Nine Maquiladoras
Midterm Two
Week Ten Economic Inequality in the United States
Week Eleven Neoliberalism and Low-Wage Labor
Gendered Division of Labor
Week Twelve Ethnic Economies
Informal Employment
Week Thirteen Spaces of Sale
Discount Nation
Week Fourteen
Part Five
Consumption and Debt
Spending and Identity
Week Fifteen Food

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.