POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT (Geography 341)

 


Poodwaddle.com

FALL 2012

M-W 4:00-5:20
McKenzie 240C

Prof. Shaul Cohen
Condon 107G Tel. 6-4500
Office Hours Monday 9:00, ABA
scohen@uoregon.edu

GTF Laurie Trautman
Condon 202
Office Hours M 1:00-1:50, ABA
lauriet@uoregon.edu
Anna Moore amoore5@uoregon.edu
 

 

Course Syllabus

This course will focus on the challenges that population growth presents to the world community, particularly in social and environmental terms. It will broach the issue of sustainability: Can the planet support our species given our current behaviors and structures? If so, at what cost to the quality of human and other life? If not, what might be done to rectify our current course?

Population Geography entails much more than these fundamental questions. We will ask why people chose to live where they live (if they have a choice). We will examine those environments in which people have thrived, and try to understand the elements of that success. We will look for common patterns, and the lessons taught by situations which depart from the norm. We will look at evidence of environmental degradation, and try to understand what impacts are caused by population and "over population."

In order to undertake these tasks we will need to learn about population geography, and for this we will use a monograph published by the Population Reference Bureau.  It is available as a PDF file at http://www.prb.org/pdf/PopulationLivelyIntro.pdf   You can also purchase this booklet from them online if you prefer to have it in your hands rather than read it on the web or print it out.  We will also read and discuss a set of readings which will be available online and on reserve in the library. You must also read at least Section One of The New York Times on a daily basis (and the Science section on Tuesdays).

A note about the New York Times - This is the "newspaper of record" for the country, meaning that it has the most authoritative voice in print media.  There are three nationally prominent newspapers in the United States.  The Wall Street Journal focuses on economic and finances matters, and has a conservative tenor.  The Washington Post is a company paper, the company being the United States government, which doesn't own it but is its most important reader.  It has a somewhat liberal bent, but is full of the gossip of government, so it talks about whoever is in power, or in scandal, or whatever.  The New York Times talks about the world, the nation, and New York, in that order.  The front page of the paper is a blend of things, but unlike other papers, its first substantive section is "International".  That is uncommon, and it is to be celebrated.  Monday through Friday you should read the New York Times, going cover-to-cover in section A, the news section.  Look for anything related to the environment or population specifically.  Your log should note the title of the article, what page it is on, what it is about, who wrote it, and so on.  Also note whether it is a news story, a feature article, an editorial, or an op-ed piece.  Pay attention to the trends - in what way(s) is the newspaper covering events, and in what way(s) is it conveying and shaping opinions?  Are there differences in the way that these issues are discussed/presented in a U.S. context and foreign contexts?  Are the issues local, national., regional, and/or global?  We will talk more about this assignment in class, and we will pay attention to the newspaper and discuss it on a regular basis.

Requirements
This is an upper-division course, and I therefore expect consistent attendance and reading of all assigned material. Readings will be on the course Blackboard, accessed via http://blackboard.uoregon.edu and your personal account there. We will have an ongoing electronic conversation on our class Facebook Group page, POP ENV 2012, you are expected to be a contributing part of that discussion.  Please remember that all of our written exchanges are for the class only, please do not share them with others!

Grading
The course will be graded on three components: two "mid-term" tests, and a final project. The tests will account for 25  and 30 percent of the grade in turn, the final project will also be worth 30 percent.  The remaining 15 percent of the grade will come from three in class "pop quizzes" that will be worth 5 percent each.  Please note that the final assignment is due Tuesday of exam week at 9:00 am in class.

I am supportive of students with special learning needs.  My support depends on a partnership between us, and if you have issues that we should discuss please contact me immediately.  There are a range of accommodations possible, and you may find useful information through the Office of Disability Services.

 

Course Policy
Please respect others in class. This includes your own conduct and commentary, spoken, written, and unspoken. Please keep side conversations to a minimum, if you don't I will certainly notice, as will those seated near you.  If you have concerns or complaints, please communicate clearly, and in a timely fashion. If you have needs, desires, concerns, apprehension, etc., don't keep them a secret! Effective measures on my part require some initiative on your part. In this vein, be aware that I am firm on the dates given to you concerning tests, papers, and other assignments. There is a 20% penalty for material turned in one day late, and 10% additional penalty for each day thereafter. Without advance warning and sufficient cause I will not grant incompletes. Leaving town early, an abundance of exams, general stress and other such reasons will not qualify for an incomplete. I am glad to discuss grades with you, but you must notify me of your desire to do so within one week of receiving the grade (final course grades excepted.) Be careful to follow appropriate rules concerning citation, do not work together on essays or tests. A tip for the wise: the quality of your writing counts. If you have concerns about your essays, or think you could benefit from assistance, take advantage of the writing lab. Finally, I am available for conversation much of the time, feel free to stop by the office.

Laptops may be used only for note taking.  Any other use of a laptop in class can result in an F grade for the course and the forfeit of course credit.  Cell phones should be turned off.  If your cell phone rings or if you're using it for texting during class you will go down one full grade for the course.  Each year I have gotten complaints from students about the distraction that comes from texting, web surfing, messaging, and game playing that goes on around them.  Let's eliminate that this term!

Reading Schedule (subject to change...)
Week 1 Is There a Population Problem?
Read Jonathan Swift's essay from 1729, "A Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.
Begin reading Population:  A Lively Introduction, complete it by Wednesday of week 2 at http://www.prb.org/pdf/PopulationLivelyIntro.pdf and the New York Times article No Babies

Week 2  Population Growth & Change, Distribution etc.  Film 1 China's One Child  
Read Saul Halfon's chapter "Overpopulating the World:  Notes Toward a Discursive Reading" for Monday and Fawcett's The right to a decent toilet.

Week 3   Film 2 Wednesday.  La Operacion   The philosophy of Garrett Hardin and Peter Singer.  Read Hardin's "Lifeboat Ethics" and Singer's "The Life You Can Save"  available online through your Blackboard account and the article "The Gift" by Zell Kravinsky for Monday.
 

Week 4 Theories of Population Change and Fertility. 
Read through the debate on population between Kenneth Hill and Ben Wattenberg from the archives of Slate Magazine. You can find it as a file in Blackboard titled "Population Debates."  Follow the exchange through the eight letters. One question on the mid-term will draw upon material  in the letters that Hill and Wattenberg exchange, so take good notes and/or download the pages. Pay particular attention to their use of terms and concepts for the test.

Week 5 Mortality and Epidemiology Test 1 Monday in class
Read "The (Un?)Certainty of Death and Disease," from Six Billion Plus: World Population the Twenty-first Century available on Blackboard

Week 6 Gender, Culture, and Reproduction   Read Simon available on Blackboard

Week 7   The Production and Distribution of Food.  Film 3 Genetic Time Bomb

About this time you're thinking of courses for the Winter... have you picked from the offerings of the Geography Department yet?

Week 8 Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced People
Test 2  Take home Due in class on Monday
Film 4 Paul Ehrlich and the Population Bomb Issues of Urbanization and Land Use 

Week 9  Read Meadows available online through Blackboard No Class Wednesday, Thanksgiving

Week 10 Power, Capital, and Population/Review

WebSurfers Section


For those of you scouring the net (ALL of you!) here are some sites that you will find interesting, and perhaps useful for your projects as well.

One of the best places to start, and the folks with the stats that I tend to trust is the Population Reference Bureau. They also have links to most of what's below, and a lot more!

The United Nations has a population program and lots of data, see their predictions at http://esa.un.org/unpp/.

To mark the milestone of six billion, the National Institute for the Environment  put together a collection of online resources, which is pretty impressive, drawing from the media, NGOs, and governmental organizations, worth a look.  We're already past 7 billion, how time flies!

The Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is a good place to see what's ailing us.
There is also a wealth of information on disease and death, organized in interesting ways, if you follow the links of the National Center for Health Statistics.

The United States Census Bureau, plan to spend a good deal of time here, remember their international section.... Dynamic population pyramids are also worth taking a look at, there are fixed and dynamic pyramids available for almost all of the countries of the world.

For an environmental perspective visit The National Resources Defense Council

A very good measure of how bad things are is the U.N.'s Human Development Report

Basic information on any country, including demographic and economic data, can be found in the data base of the CIA (they can be trusted, for the most part, on this kind of stuff), in their World Fact Book.

A starting point for some food related issues is Oxfam, check out their links to other sites as well.

A general annotated bibliography (always useful) on "People, Numbers, and Impacts" is on the page of Population Action International.

The National Library for the Environment has information on our issues, and links too, of course.

An NGO that provides commentary from a British perspective is the Optimum Population Trust which tries to define what a sustainable population would be, that can be fairly provocative.

Check back from time to time, more to come!!!


Campus Resources

Various issues and challenges can come up in the context of University life.  Some resources that are available to you and that you are entitled to as a member of our community include:

-University Teaching and Learning Center. In the basement of PLC, there are many services including drop-in writing and math labs, tutoring, test prep, and other things.  They also have mini-courses on time managment, computer software, and other things.

-University Health Center.  If you don't feel well, you may not do well (and vise versa).  There are many services for your physical and psychological needs.  Don't be shy; issues that you have are almost certainly more common than you might think.

-Office of Student Life.  Support of all kinds can be found in the Office of Student Life, and they can help you navigate the resources available to you on campus (and elsewhere).  Their job is help you, they have resources and knowledge about what's possible.  Check there for information about such things as the Bias Response Team, Non-traditional Student support, Conflict Resolution Services, and many others, the list is long.

-ASUO.  It's yours, you pay for it, you vote for it.  It has as its mission and goals:  to represent and advocate for all students, through the protection and promotion of the physical, cultural and educational development of the University. The ASUO Executive works to protect, allocate, and manage the student incidental fees. Through this fee we provide services to students and student organizations, create a marketplace of ideas on campus, and act as liaison between students, administration, and the Eugene community.

There are many ways in which we form a community and provide support for one another.  If you aren't finding what you need, ask around.  If someone is in need, try to help!

 

 

Basic Guidelines for Essay Writing

By following these guidelines you will produce an essay that directs the reader's attention to the style and content of your work, and avoids distraction that comes from improper form. These suggestions are a starting point, feel free to exceed them....

1) Proof-read your essay! Better yet, proof-read it and then have a friend proof-read it. Run a spell-check program if you have one, but don't assume that it will catch all the errors. Number each page after the title page.  Feel free to print on both sides of the page if you can.

2) Save a copy of the essay before you turn it in. Never hand in the only copy of your work.

3) Your essay should have a thesis statement or statement of your goals in the first paragraph.

4) Contextualize your topic. How does it fit in the "big picture"? What is its significance?

5) You should briefly discuss your sources (and methods, if appropriate). The New York Times or particularly relevant articles from unassigned readings can be used sparingly. Time magazine and others of that genre do not make for a strong bibliography. Do not rely too heavily on any one particular source.

6) Use proper citation. Maintain consistency throughout the paper. The format is up to you, as long as it is one of the standards. (Jones 1994) or (Smith 1997:45 for a direct quote with page number) is one way to cite, or you can use footnotes with a complete citation. In either case your bibliography should contain all the necessary information, including author(s), title, date of publication, publisher and city for books, issue and page numbers for journals. You may use material from the WWW, see the library's homepage for citation format for the Web. Remember, if you are quoting, paraphrasing or taking primary ideas from another source, you must indicate this through citation.

7) Write clearly and concisely. Illustrate your arguments with detailed examples. Remember, you are not writing a report. You are making an argument, or testing a hypothesis or theory, or challenging a viewpoint or conclusion. Your topic needs to be appropriate for this purpose. Whatever you write about, your writing must reflect your own thought on the topic, without being chatty. Back up your position with material that gives it weight and authority!

8) Try to provide a powerful conclusion. In it you briefly recap those elements that have contributed to your argument, and restate the significance of the issues and your analysis.