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Department of Geography


Note that Spring 2021 courses — dates and meeting places — may change in response to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Please consult the registrar's listing of spring courses for the most complete information. And be aware that information there will continue to be updated as necessary.

Undergraduates may take 100- through 500-level courses. Graduate students will only receive credit for courses numbered at the 500-level and above.

Spring 2021 Courses

Section 001 / M W  2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m./ Online — synchronous / Dr. Robert Kopack (7-5234)
Section 002 / T R  2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m./ Online — synchronous / Dr. Robert Kopack (7-5234)

This course introduces students to the breadth of geography and the relevance of geographical concepts and methods to an array of current issues, including climate change, migration, natural hazards, and urbanization. It explores concepts of space, place, mobility, and scale and shows how geographic expertise informs decision-making and problem-solving in a variety of fields, including location analysis for business, environmental policy, and economic development. This course further demonstrates the applicability of geography to other fields of study and to analysis of current events.

M W F  10:50 a.m.–11:40 a.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchrous / Staff (7-5234)

Physical geography synthesizes and connects elements of our physical environment as they relate to human beings. It includes many aspects of various earth and life sciences, but expresses them in a way that emphasizes patterns of interaction between elements and with humankind. This means that physical geography, like other branches of geography, examines spatial relationships—not only where things are, but also the processes that underlie the observed patterns. The objective of this course is to provide a systematic introduction to physical geography, including the major components of the earth system (atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere) as well as regulatory processes, distribution patterns of important aspects, and impacts of human activity.

Section 001 / M W 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchronous / Staff (7-5234)
Section 002
/ M W 8:05 a.m.–9:20 a.m. / CALLCOTT 005 / Staff (7-5234) 
Section 003 / T R  10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchrous / Staff (7-5234) 
Section 004* / T R 4:25 p.m.–7:10 p.m. / CALLCOTT 005 / Staff (7-5234)  (*Accelerated course; runs second half of semester)

The Digital Earth is an introductory course that focuses on how the earth surface is visualized, explored, and analyzed in digital formats. It provides a systematic introduction of map-based analysis of the Earth’s environment and human society. The topics cover the basics of cartography (map making and reading), aerial photography and satellite image interpretation, geographic information systems (GIS), and map-based reasoning and communication of spatial data. Through lectures and hands-on activities, students will learn the fundamentals using geographic data analysis to understand vast quantities of information about our ever-changing world. Students will be exposed to leading-edge trends in mapping technology, with examples from everyday life like web-based maps and smartphone apps.

Note: Students are required to bring their own laptop to class.

T R 11:40 a.m.–12:55 p.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchrous / Dr. Meredith J. DeBoom (7-4605)

This course introduces students to diversity, inequality, and interconnectedness in the contemporary world through the lens of regional geography. In terms of diversity, this course highlights the ways that the physical environment, social and economic systems, political relationships, and historical circumstances have produced distinctive regions, like “Latin America” and “the Middle East.” In terms of interconnectedness, this course explores the ways global processes—world trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism, geopolitical conflict, and climate change—have integrated different world regions into a complex global system. In terms of inequality, this course gives special attention to the way that regional and global processes intersect to produce and reinforce social and geographical disparities.

Section 201-001* / Lecture: T R 6:00 p.m.–7:15 p.m., Lab 001: M 5:50 p.m.–8:35 p.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchrous / Dr. Jean T. Ellis (7-1593)

Sections 201-002*,  -004* / Lecture: T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / CALLCOTT 201 / Dr. John A. Kupfer (7-6739)
Lab 002 / T 11:40 a.m.–1:30 p.m. / CALLCOTT 202
Lab 004 / W 5:30 p.m.–7:20 p.m. / CALLCOTT 202

This course is an introduction to the physical features on the Earth’s land surface emphasizing soils, hydrology, and processes of landform creation by water, wind, ice, and gravity.  Landforms are physical features on the Earth’s surface such as valleys, hillslopes, beaches, sand dunes, and stream channels.  The study of landforms is one of the oldest of the natural sciences from which many classic scientific premises and methods were born.  Landforms and soils provide evidence of past environmental conditions, how they have changed, and the processes involved, including human actions and natural agents.  The course emphasizes environmental changes in the recent geologic past up to the present. 

*4 credit hour course includes a 2-hour laboratory each week.

Sections 202-001* / Lecture: T R 2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m.  / Online — synchronous / Dr. Gregory J. Carbone (7-0682)
Lab 001 /  W 12:00 p.m.–1:50 p.m. / Online

Sections 202-002*, -004* / Lecture: T R 1:15 p.m.–2:30 p.m. / Online — synchronous / Dr. April L. Hiscox (7-6604)
Lab 002 / W 2:20 p.m.–4:10 p.m. / Online
Lab 004 / R 2:50 p.m.–4:40 p.m. / Online

This course provides students with a general understanding of the processes which influence weather and climate patterns.  It first examines the sources of energy driving atmospheric processes, the importance of atmospheric moisture, and the forces creating the winds.  The second part of the course focuses on storm systems, including mid-latitude cyclones and severe weather.  The last third of the class is devoted to the study of climate, climate variability and change, and the impact of such change on human activity.  The laboratory sections will include experiments, workbook exercises, and analysis of real-time computer weather graphics.  The final grade will be based on lecture exams, lab exams, take-home exercises, a weather journal, and regular lecture and lab quizzes.

*4 credit hour course includes a 2-hour laboratory each week.

M W 2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m. / CALLCOTT 202 / Staff (7-5234)

This course covers a wide range of topics relating to the human and physical geography of the European subcontinent, including human settlement and migration, trade, resource extraction, commodity production, and geopolitical (re)actions. We will take a “historical-geographical” approach to the course—that is, we will consider key geographic patterns and transformations in different historical periods, specifically the Medieval/Pre-Modern period, the Age of Industrialization and Urbanization (the 17th to early 20th centuries), and the Contemporary Period (the period since WWII). In each period, the course highlights the mutually transformative relationships between economic production, state/regulatory systems, social organization, and the built, cultivated, and natural environments.  How, we will ask, did particular geographical systems come about in Europe, and how and why did they change?  How did innovations in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and governance alter people’s livelihoods and re-shape the geographical landscape? The class will familiarize students with current realities in and events affecting Europe: a dynamic European Union, the Brexit vote, the re-emergence of populism, the refugee crisis, and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Throughout the course, we will constantly be asking, what is Europe, and what (if anything) makes Europe a “unique,” definable space?

M W 2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m. / Online — synchronous / Dr. Michael E. Hodgson (7-9945)

This course is an introduction to the use of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), such as drones, in collecting and processing imagery for mapping/information. Course content includes UAS characteristics, small camera considerations, project planning and processing, and legal requirements in the United States and the European Union. Hands-on experience with collecting drone imagery and processing imagery for mapping. No previous experience with drone operation is required. All course readings will be available on Blackboard. However, students are expected to purchase (or already have) a small aerial drone with a camera and global positioning system (GPS) receiver onboard (estimated cost $75–$150). Ideally, the drone camera should have a gimball and/or electronic image stabilization. Email the instructor for suggestions. Students may receive 15% extra credit by passing, before the end of the course, the FAA Part 107 exam to receive the Remote Pilot Certificate.

T 4:25 p.m.–7:10 p.m. / CALLCOTT 102 / Dr. Meredith J. DeBoom (7-4605)

Human rights have become one of the most powerful ways of advocating for a more just and equitable world. From the U.S. civil rights movement to the Rwandan genocide, societal progress — or lack thereof — has often been assessed through the rubric of rights. Yet, despite the power of human rights as an abstract concept, what exactly is included in those rights — and who or what is responsible for ensuring them, for whom, and where — remains contested. In this seminar-style course, we’ll apply a spatial lens to explore the complexities and paradoxes that characterize the intersection of human rights ideals and diverse global contexts. Our focus will be on the political, geopolitical, and economic factors that have shaped human rights norms in realms ranging from climate change and human security to structural violence and crimes against humanity. Through a series of dispatches and symposia, we’ll investigate the unfolding landscapes of rights and responsibilities at scales ranging from our own backyards to the halls of the United Nations — and explore our own agency within them.

M W F 9:40 a.m.–10:30 a.m. / Online — synchronous / Dr. Robert Kopack (7-5234)

How does where you live influence who you are? How do our understandings of the world – our beliefs, values, dreams, and memories — influence the environments of everyday life? What can we learn about cultural identity and belonging by examining the landscapes and places we think are important to who we are? How does society reinforce or challenge issues such as social, economic, or political inequality through planning and organizing physical and social space? This course will introduce students to spatial ways of thinking about culture, including the interrelationships between power, meanings and values, ways of life, and the material things we create and use in ordinary life. By the end of this course students will be able to: define and use the concepts of space, place, and landscape to examine current social and cultural issues; demonstrate a geographic understanding of how identity and inequality are produced in society; and use spatial concepts and geographic methodologies to research a local cultural or social topic.

T R 10:05 a.m.–11:20 a.m. / CALLCOTT 102 / Dr. Caroline R. Nagel (7-4970)

Geopolitics refers to statecraft — that is, the ways states maneuver and operate within an interstate system in order to maximize their economic and political advantages.  This course examines statecraft from a critical perspective, focusing on the ways state actors imagine and articulate threats to their sovereignty and power.  How do states see and talk about the world, and how do particular understandings of the world translate into actual state practices?  This course considers how states convey particular geopolitical imaginaries to ordinary citizens, and how citizens themselves have a role in reinforcing or destabilizing these imaginaries.  As well, the course explores how citizens of both powerful and weak states are affected in their everyday lives by the technologies and techniques of statecraft.  Topics covered include the classical geopolitical theories, Cold War geopolitics, the War on Terror, the emerging second cold war between the U.S. and China, soft power and diplomacy, tensions between nationalism and globalism/cosmopolitanism, and the role of humanitarianism and women’s rights as objectives of statecraft and military intervention.

Section 001 / Blended: T 10:05 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. — CALLCOTT 101; R  10:05 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. — Online / Dr. Kirstin Dow (7-2482)
Section H01* / M W 8:05 a.m.–9:20 a.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchronous /  Dr.  David Kneas (7-1308)

This course examines the relationship between society and the environment. That is, relations between culture, power, and environmental change. The course not only addresses themes of environmental degradation, but also considers the history and culture of environmental protection. In this regard, we will explore ideas of nature (from frontier wilderness to tropical Amazonia) and analyze the ways ideas of nature have influenced national identity, racial difference, and the branding and consumption of goods. In our approach to issues of environmental degradation we will examine the wider relations of power and economic production that drive environmental change, while critically examining popular framings of environmental problems. In situating issues of environmental degradation and protection in their wider political, cultural, and historical context, this course helps students develop and apply critical thinking skills towards the environment and their place within it.

* Requires Honors College permission

M W 2:20 p.m.–3:35 p.m. / CALLCOTT 102 / Dr. Cary J. Mock (7-1211)

This course examines the interrelationship between climate and human activities. We will study the physical nature of the climate system, climate variability and change; and their climatic impacts on society, including the social, economic, and political factors involved with these impacts. The approach will be based mostly from the examination of selected case studies.  Specific topics that will be covered include past climatic change and society, perceptions and impacts of climate during the historical period in North America, climate determinism, severe drought, climatic hazards which include hurricanes, fire, climate and health, and global warming.   Class sessions will vary between lecture, discussion, and class exercises.  Evaluation will be based on short writing assignments and exams. There are no course prerequisites.  

T R 1:15 p.m.–2:30 p.m. / Online — synchronous and asynchrous / Dr. R. Dean Hardy (7-7593)

This course examines the political, social, and cultural dimensions of water as a resource. In the first part of the class we will explore the multiple functions that water fulfills as a resource. It quenches thirst, sustains crops, generates power, cools industry, carries waste, and maintains ecosystems.  For each of these topics we will look at the management issues, problems, and solutions that play out on individual, national, and global scales. The second part of the class will focus on the political dynamics of water distribution, access, and use via several case studies. We will investigate questions of transboundary water management, climate change adaptation, water-related disasters, water governance, water scarcity, and the threat of water wars. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to questions of justice, equity, and sustainability.

Section 001 / M W 3:55 p.m.–5:10 p.m. / Online — synchronous / Dr. Michael E. Hodgson (7-8976)
Section 002 / M W 2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m. / CALLCOTT 302 / Dr. Zhenlong Li (7-4590)

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) represent a major advancement in the management and analysis of geographical data. These systems are used extensively throughout all levels of government, private industry, and academia to provide support for place-based decision-making and problem-solving. Principles and methods of Geographic Information Systems are presented with an emphasis on modeling the Earth and abstracting geographical data; collecting geographical data using modern techniques such as GPS; mapping information; and analyzing spatial patterns and relationships. Practical experience with GIS is provided during the lab exercises using a state‐of‐the‐art GIS. Students are provided free copies of the GIS software. There are no prerequisites for this course.

T R 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. / CALLCOTT 201 / Dr. John A. Kupfer (7-6739)

This course introduces students to the major resource, managerial and recreational components of America’s National Park system. To provide a context for understanding current management issues, we will begin with an examination of the National Park Service’s history, development, mission, and decision-making framework. These will be followed by broad-brush treatments and case studies of current issues facing park system units, including wildfire management, invasive species, species reintroductions, pollution, recreation pressure, and other significant environmental changes.

Independent Study contract and department permission required
Contact the Geography Department for more information:

Department permission required
Contact the Geography Department for more information:

Contract and department permission required
Contact the Geography Department for more information:

W 4:40 p.m.–7:25 p.m. / Online — synchronous / Dr. R. Dean Hardy (7-7593)

Coasts are dynamic, ever changing interfaces between land and sea with extensive histories of habitation. They are imbued with the historical geographies of current and past societies and deeply affected by contemporary social, political, and cultural values. In this discussion-based seminar course, we will examine nature-society relations in coastal systems around the world. Focusing on human-environment interactions in global coastal systems, we will cover themes such as coastal hazards, adaptation governance, population migration, environmental justice, and sustainability via several regional case studies with a focus on examining how sea-level rise will radically reshape coastlines both physically and socially

M W 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m / CALLCOTT 003 / Dr. C. Patrick Barrineau (7-5234)

Coastal regions in the United States are regularly stressed due to increasing rates of development as well as climate change. This course investigates the physical, social, and economic principles underpinning contemporary coastal management practices, and how these are used to mitigate anthropogenic as well as ‘natural’ stresses. Students will learn about the competing interests of coastal zone stakeholders, interest groups, and industry. Perspectives covered include those of regulators, landowners, tourists, business leaders, political representatives, and resource managers. Concepts of conservation, preservation, and sustainability related to coastal regions will be discussed in detail. In order to provide a diverse set of perspectives, guest lecturers from regulatory agencies, private companies, and research centers will provide in-class presentations on their backgrounds and specializations. Students will learn coastal physical and ecological processes as a basis for understanding effective coastal zone management practices. Coastal zone management practices and policies will be considered at multiple spatial scales: international, federal, regional, state, and local, with a focus on the United States Coastal Zone Management Act and the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Plan. The physical, social, and policy-based impacts of sea level rise and coastal hazards will also be discussed.

M W 3:55 p.m. – 5:10 p.m.  /  CALLCOTT 302  /  Dr. Susan Cutter (7-1590)

Examination of the geo-spatial aspects of hazards analysis and planning with specific reference to disaster preparedness, recovery, mitigation, and resilience. This course 1) provides a historical overview of hazards assessment and planning within the United States including the legal frameworks such as the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and its amendments; 2) introduces the conceptual and theoretical background to hazards analysis including scale, geospatial models, and metrics for vulnerability and resilience; 3) introduces analytical tools used in hazards and vulnerability assessments; and 4) illustrates the application of existing hazards research on planning and analysis into contemporary practice.  Using a combination of learning styles ranging from reading, lectures, and in class discussions to more active engagement with online discussions, blogs, GIS labs, and hands-on exercises, the course illustrates how the principles of the geographical sciences tailored to hazards analysis are translated into useful information for practitioners.  Students should already have some of the fundamental knowledge and basic introductory background in hazards and in geographic information systems. 

By the end of the semester students should be able to:
  •  Demonstrate the ability to think spatially, analyze hazards data, and provide a place-based hazard assessment for a community, county, state, or region
  •  Understand the geographical dimensions and information requirements for preparedness, mitigation, and recovery Understand limitations in measuring hazards and vulnerability at different spatial scales
  •  Critically evaluate hazard assessment methodologies including limitations in models and in available data streams
  •  Spatially represent hazards, vulnerability, and resilience at local to national scales 
Prerequisites: GEOG 363 and 530, or equivalents; or permission of the instructor

T R 2:50 p.m.–4:05 p.m. / Online — synchronous / Dr. Jessica E. Barnes (7-9945)

This course will examine the political, social, and cultural landscapes of food and farming around the world. In the first part of the semester, we will trace global food systems from production to consumption. We will start at the point of agricultural production, exploring current controversies over international land grabs and genetically modified seeds. We will look at the global trade in food commodities and the inequalities embedded within the global food system. Finally, we will examine food consumption and the links between consumption, class, race, and identity. We will then turn to questions of food access and assistance, considering inequalities in food availability and various programs designed to help people meet their food needs.

M W 3:55 p.m. – 5:35 p.m. / CALLCOTT 101 / Dr. Cary J. Mock (7-1211)

This course will examine the main principles and controls of weather and climate as they occur at the regional scale.  Description of the main types of meteorological data commonly used for daily weather forecasting.  Analysis and interpretation of regional (synoptic) scale atmospheric circulation, mid-latitude cyclones, severe thunderstorms, and tropical cyclones by using weather maps, soundings, cross sections, thermodynamic diagrams, computer models, and satellite imagery.  Introduction to techniques used in weather forecasting. The course includes mostly lectures and weather discussions/labs, with grading based on exams, participation in weather discussions and weather forecasting, and exercises/labs.

T 10:15 a.m.–1:00 p.m. / CALLCOTT 302 / Dr. Zhenlong Li (7-4590)

How to find the centroid, perimeter, or area of a polygon? How can the system tell that two geographical features overlap each other? How to develop your own algorithms to extract information from spatial data? How to automate a series of tasks to solve a complex spatial problem? This course addresses these fundamental spatial questions from a programming perspective. With this course, students will be able to 1) develop fundamental programming skills with Python by working with spatial data in the context of GIS, 2) gain practical experience in designing and developing tools to solve specific spatial problems by programming with ArcGIS and other spatial packages, and 3) understand the principles of popular GIS data models and algorithms, and the internal operations of GIS software.

Prior experience with programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, Perl and VBA is helpful but not required.  Hands-on programming exercises will be accompanied with most of the lectures to help students gain programming experience as well as enhance the understanding of discussed concepts/techniques.

Online — asynchronous / Dr. David M. Kneas (7-1308)

This course examines events, processes, and historical moments glossed as “globalization.” We will read key contributions from anthropology, geography, and history to analyze globalization and its pseudonyms (from capitalism to neoliberalism), as well as its discontents (from social protest to fair trade organic coffee). We will explore globalization as a centuries long historical process as well as a defined period of the post-Cold War era. Is globalization, as a cultural concept and political-economic process, useful today? How has the concept and its significance changed since the global recession of 2008? In grappling with these questions, we will examine the relationship between culture, power, and economy.

Cross-listed with ANTH 581.

Dr. Caroline Nagel (7-4970) / CALLCOTT 310
Instructor approval and a signed internship contract required

The internship in geography helps students acquire valuable "on the job" experience and develop marketable job skills as well as learn about employment opportunities and requirements. Students serve as interns with cooperating government agencies, or commercial and nonprofit businesses. A special effort is made to assign each intern to a position compatible with his/her interests, abilities, and career aspirations. The course must be taken for a grade to receive degree credit. Grades are determined in consultation with supervisory personnel in hosting agency and are based on the performance of internship duties and the preparation of an internship summary report.

Directed research topics individually assigned and supervised by graduate faculty.
Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission and contract required.

F 9:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m. / CALLCOTT 112 / Dr. Susan L. Cutter (7-1590)

The seminar this spring focuses on contemporary themes in risk, hazards, and disasters research, especially from the perspective of North American researchers.  Given the recent U.S. experiences with presidentially-declared disasters we will explore some of the theoretical and methodological challenges in understanding:  1) how extreme events (and extreme consequences) are defined; 2) the inequalities in impacts and their specific influence on recovery; and 3) the social roots of injustices in antecedent conditions within affected communities that produce “recovery divides”—places that recover after a disaster and those that lag behind.  How and why disaster recovery divides exist and persist in the face of subsequent hazard events or changing social contexts is the primary focal point for the semester.

The course goals are to 1) increase familiarity with the current literature on hazards and disasters and risk; 2) improve understanding of the theoretical and methodological challenges in understanding extremes, recovery, and driving factors such as vulnerability and resilience; and 3) increase participants’ ability to critically assess literature and the salience of the main arguments in that research.

Thesis Preparation research topics individually assigned and supervised by graduate faculty.
Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission required.

W 1:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. / CALLCOTT 112 / Dr. Conor M. Harrison (576-6010)

Advanced independent research for Ph.D. students on geographical topics to be supervised by a faculty member. This course may be taken for 1–3 credit hours. The specific research project must be defined and agreed upon by the student and the faculty members.

Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission and contract required.

Dissertation Preparation research topic is individually assigned and supervised by graduate faculty.
Contact the Geography Department for more information:
Department permission required.

Note: R = Thursday

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.