Geog 104 Description
Instructor: Matt McGranaghan (firstname.lastname@example.org, 956-7092)
Meeting: Physical Science Building (PSB) 310, MWF 1:30-2:20
Overview: This course is intended as an introduction to maps as tools for geographers. A more expansive title might be "Cartography, Remote Sensing, GIS, Spatial Thinking and Us". We will use Google Earth and other on-line imagery and "maps", GIS software, and more traditional topographic and thematic maps, as well as some outdoor compass and pacing based mapping, as concrete and accessible starting points for introducing the kinds of maps and images used by geographers. We will examine map projections, notions of location and methods for determining and specifying it, as well as methods for map data collection, interpretation, analysis, and presentation that Geographers have found useful in supporting spatial thinking. It will explain the transformations and representational conventions of cartographic practice. (I.e., how do we represent the world in maps? what do the symbols mean? what kinds of interpretation and inference are supported? how does this "magic" work?) It will consider the implications of "going digital", nearly ubiquitous mapping integrated with GPS, internet enabled cell phones, and location based services. In this course you will become a more informed user and producer of maps and spatial data. Some might call that "critical spatial thinking."
We will use lectures, readings, in-class and take-home assignments to explain, demonstrate and explore the notions, processes and problems behind cartographic representation and map interpretation. Exercises will provide hands-on experience in reading, making and critiquing maps. The exercises will typically require map reading or making, some analytical thought, and a short write-up.
Readings and Materials: Readings (see the schedule) will include Norman Thrower's Maps and Civilization as well as supplemental materials to be provided in electronic format. We will make use of free imagery, data sets and software with a preference for public domain software to illustrate concepts and build skills. It is anticipated that most of you will have personal computers; for those who don't, we'll find lab space.
Grading: Grading will be based on my best professional judgment of your performance on a set of weighted components. The components and weights are: