Courses : Syllabi : 573
Geography 573 Population and Environment
The demographic foundation of our lives is deep and broad. As you will see in this course, demography affects nearly every facet of your life in some way or another. Population change is one of the prime forces behind social and technological change all over the world. As population size and composition changes in an area—whether it be growth or decline—people have to adjust, and from those adjustments radiate innumerable alterations to the way society operates. The major goal of the course is to offer insight into why and how populations grow (and decline), and where and under what conditions population change has positive and negative consequences. This requires that we understand the interaction of mortality, fertility, migration, population structure, and population characteristics. All of these factors will be considered within the context of cultural change and economic development and sustainability. The course will include a review and analysis of strategies designed to cope with population change, environmental change, and the rise in affluence and control over nature that have led to both phenomena.
- Analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on the earth's surface
- Comprehend relations between global and local processes
- Analyze the characteristics, distribution, and mobility patterns of human population on the earth's surface
- Interpret the human use of physical resources and the impact of resource utilization on nature and human society
- Apprehend the complex relations between nature and culture/society
- Summarize the spatial patterns and networks of economic interdependence on the earth's surface
- Recognize underlying assumptions in theoretical orientations or arguments
Your grade in this course will be determined by the following elements:
- A MIDTERM EXAM that will count for 20 percent of your grade. This exam will be an in-class essay written in a blue book. Review questions will be available on Blackboard prior to the exam. Note that there is no makeup exam. If you have a valid excuse for missing the midterm, the weight of the missed exam will be added to the final exam.
- A TAKE-HOME ESSAY FINAL EXAM that will count for 20 percent of your grade. It will be comprehensive in nature. It will be handed out on the last day of class and will be due during final exam week
- A SET OF 3 ASSIGNMENTS, incorporating the use of the Internet. They will count for a total of 20 percent of your grade in the class.
- PARTICIPATION IN A CLASS COLLOQUIUM in which we discuss the Courbage and Todd book. This will count for 5 percent of your grade
- A TERM PAPER that is your family demographic history will count for 25 percent of your grade. It will be due on the last day of class.
- CLASS PARTICIPATION will count for 10 percent of your grade. This means that I expect that you will attend class and participate mentally, even if not necessarily verbally. I also expect you to take the review quizzes that will be available on Blackboard prior to the Midterm and Final exams.
- GRADUATE STUDENTS in the class will be required to report on a demographic topic of their choice, agreed to by me ahead of time. This will involve a two-to-three page written report, which will be given orally to the class at a designated time later in the semester.
- EXTRA CREDIT OPPORTUNITIES are noted on the Course Calendar and others may also arise during the course. These all involve writing a “reaction paper,” which is a two-page, typed, double-spaced essay in which you briefly review the video or talk, and then relate it to the reading and class discussion, and offer your own substantive reaction to the content of the video or talk. Don't tell me that you liked it or not, tell me whether you agree or not and why, or tell me about related things that you thought about as you were digesting the contents of the video or talk. You may complete up to two of these, and each will be worth an additional 5 percent of your grade. Each one is due a week after the presentation.
Books and Materials
John R. Weeks, Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, Eleventh Edition (Belmont; CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning), 2011
Yousef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd, A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World (New York: Columbia University Press), 2011
In addition, there will be readings posted on Blackboard and/or that will be downloaded (or at least read) over the internet in conjunction with class assignments.
|Week One||Introduction to the class and to each other; defining demography and discussing why this is an important topic
Global patterns of population change—where are we and how did we get here?
|Week Two||Global patterns of population change, continued—Video on “World in the Balance—the Population Paradox” (Reaction paper opportunity)|
|Week Three||Demographic perspectives—a little history about doomsters and boomsters, and the demographic transition in all its glory|
|Week Four||Video on and discussion about the ultimate neo-Malthusian—Paul Ehrlich (reaction paper opportunity)|
|Week Five||Demographic data and resources—how do we know what we know?|
|Week Six||The mortality transition—this has changed everything
How do we measure mortality?
|Week Seven||Review for midterm exam
|Week Eight||The fertility transition—a radical transformation of life|
|Week Nine||Class colloquium on the Courbage and Todd book
The migration transition—the most obvious aspect of spatial demography
|Week Ten||Migration, continued
The age transition—the “master” transition
|Week Eleven||Age transition, continued
The urban transition—moving to places we love to live in and complain about
|Week Twelve||The family and household transition—inevitable consequences of the other demographic changes
Video on the family transition “Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family” (reaction paper opportunity)
|Week Thirteen||Population growth and the environment—how many of us can live well?|
|Week Fourteen||Population and the environment--continued
Coping with population change—The future is a foreign country
|Week Fifteen||Coping with population change, continued
Review for Final Exam