Fall 2021 GEOG 520 Seminar in Human Geography
Why Place Matters
- Instructor: Christopher Fowler
- Semester: Fall 2021
- Class Time: Wednesdays, Fridays, 8:00–9:15 a.m.
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Credits: 03
- Place: 319 Walker Building
- Section: GEOG 520-001
The assertion that "place matters" is arguably the fundamental assumption of geographical thinking. While geographers take this assertion for granted, it is important to unpack its nuances. This becomes even more important when discussions of place have been incorporated into other disciplines. In this seminar we will examine the underlying pieces of the puzzle. Exactly what is a place? What characteristics of a place matter? What are the effects of a place on an individual or individuals and the mechanisms behind these effects?
This seminar will pursue several distinct goals:
1. Engaging with foundational texts - We will read some of the foundational texts in human geography and cognate fields that have addressed issues of how and why place matters, including theoretical texts like Henri Lefebvre's "The Production of Space" as well as empirical works like Robert Sampson's "Great American City." In addition to our core geographic texts, we will draw on understandings of place from other fields like sociology, economics, political science, education, and health sciences.
2. Student-curated topics - Building on the texts above, students will work together to explore cutting edge research on why and how place matters for individuals within their respective areas of interest in order to understand the current state of the literature and where geographic engagements with the concept of place need to go from here.
3. Reading across methods - A critical challenge in this area is reconciling the complexity of relationships between people and place with the fact that as researchers we must often generalize this complexity. To work effectively in this realm, readers must be comfortable with both qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding why place matters. Thus, in this seminar we will discuss how to read across theoretical, qualitative, and quantitative research.
4. Systematic review of place - In this seminar, we will collectively undertake a systematic review of the literature and identify in broad terms the strengths, weaknesses, and best practices in current geographic engagements with place for scholars within and beyond the discipline. The end product of this work will be a co-authored journal submission to "The Professional Geographer."
The seminar is intended for graduate students in human geography with an interest in broadening their knowledge of place as a fundamental component of geographic thinking. The multidisciplinary nature of place should similarly make this seminar accessible to students across a range of social and health sciences regardless of their background in geography.
Course Activities: Students will be responsible for producing at least one annotated bibliography of current scholarship on the impacts of place on individuals in their area of expertise or interest. Students will help curate the readings and guide the class in discussion on their chosen topic. Students will also participate in a collaborative systematic review of the literature for journal article submission.