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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Geography (GEOG)

GEOG 128 (GS;IL) Geography of International Affairs (3) Contemporary international affairs in their geographical setting; geographic elements in the development of national power, political groupings, and international disputes.

GEOG 128

GEOG 128 Geography of International Affairs (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Geography of International Affairs uses the organizing principle of geographic scale to examine the spatial patterns of and interrelationships among political processes and institutions. Particular emphasis is givent to developing an integrative view of how global, national, local and individual scale processes interact to produce patterns of peace and conflict. The course analyzes how the actions of individuals, states and other political actors are influenced by their dynamic geographical contexts.

The political geography approach does not simply discuss the war, peace, nationalism, terrorism, and religious organizations in isolation; instead, it concentrates on understanding the integration of these processes, and how their integration mediates political decisions and outcomes. For example, the study of terrorism demonstrates how the decision to commit terrorism is made in a multi-scalar context of competing states and/or nation-state building. In addition, the spaces of terrorist networks are contrasted with spaces of nation-states to show the geographical complexities involved in effective counter-terrorism.

The focus of political geography is unlike the disciplines of political science, international affairs and sociology from which it draws. On the one hand, political science focuses on the processes within separate nation-states. International affairs focuses on the interaction between nation-states, seen as unified actors. Sociology focuses on social organizations and institutions, but usually within the confines of a particular nation-state. One the other hand, political geography concentrates on the interaction of domestic politics, international relations, and trans-national social interactions. Seeing each is mutually constitutive of the other. Geography of International Affairs is concerned with the geopolitical context, broadly defined - the manner in which spaces and places are combinations of the political and the social, the domestic and the international, the global and the local - and how it partially determines the form and outcomes of politics.

Like all geography, five recurring themes permeate Geography of International Affairs: space, place, scale, context, and human-territorial relationships. Political geographers not only are interested in where political phenomena are located on Earth's surface, but also they want to know the answers to such questions as:
� What is special about the political processes that occur in a particular place?
� How does the political geography of a place relate to other places in the world?
� How do spaces of power, such as states, operate?
� How do political processes change and interact as we move ip and down spatial scales?
� How and why do people use territory in political conflicts, such as ethno-nationalist or religious wars and disputes?

Other disciplines typically do not cover these spatial and human-territorial themes systematically.

As part of the broader discipline, political geographers have developed and adopted many tools to address these themes. Maps are obvious choices, but geographers also use a wide array of statistical and qualitative techniques to study the distribution of political processes and the processes themselves. They use geographic information systems and computer models to manipulate, display, and analyze spatial data. Geography of International Affairs acquaints students with many of these tools.

When the above points are taken together, political geography emerges as a unique field of social science. Geography of International Affairs provides a learning experience that students can get in no other discipline - one that takes an integrated view that makes contemporary international affairs relevant and understandable.

General Education: GS
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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