Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Geography Battle at Georgetown University

All Points Blog has a short blurb (below) about one professor's effort to introduce geography into a foreign service class at Georgetown University.

Map of the Modern World is the name of a course in the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. It's being reshaped per James Reardon-Anderson, director of the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service program. The new version focuses on physical geography and its role in international affairs.

Per the school paper: "The changes will be embodied by three lectures on the fundamental forces that shape physical geography at the beginning of the course and a final lecture on global climate change. Reardon-Anderson, who will be teaching the class, acknowledged that the changes are part of the SFS’s effort to increase its students’ exposure to the sciences."

Students are not pleased. A protest group has sprung up on Facebook with more than 300 members. Some feel political issues will take a backseat to geography.
The blurb has a link to the Georgetown Voice article on the matter.

Clearly politics needs to have a very high perch in an international affairs class. However, too often these types of classes only do international politics. They ignore deeply powerful varables like physical geography, cultural differences which determine the end goals for various parties, religion, and so much more. If done correctly, Dr. Reardon-Anderson can open up many minds to the factors deeper than politics in international studies. Good luck to him!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, you definitely have no clue what you are talking about. The class was about geography (location of countries, how borders/physical elements caused wars, etc), the problem with the change is that the course is changing to focusing on how geography is the cause of every human interaction and other Jared Diamond crap. Unless you have taken Map, stay out of the debate!

Catholicgauze said...

According to the Georgetown Voice, the changes have yet to be fully implemented. Under your logic no one should be debating because no one has completed both versions of the class.

James said...

What a shame it is that the mean ol' professors at Georgetown are trying to broaden the horizons of a bunch of whiny, self-absorbed rich kids! Golly--i'm sure glad i went to a school that didn't make me learn anything i wasn't interested in (or know anything about). That would have been terrible.

The sad thing is that these trust-fund teat sucklers who are so vociferously complaining about having to learn geography, by virtue of attending a school of supposed "prestige" are likely to occupy positions of at least some measure of influence/import once they graduate and enter into the real world. Universities are supposed to function as centers of debate and appreciation of multiple perspectives. What does it say about the state of higher education when its products proclaim juicy lil' nuggets of wisdom like "unless you have taken Map, stay out of the debate!"? Anonymous, your haughty, hyperbole-tinged comments make you seem quite the imbecile. For your sake, I sincerely hope that you posted your comment before you had much of a chance to consider what you intended to say.

SFS '11 said...

I am HIGHLY offended at the implication that all Georgetown students are rich, trust fund babies. Some are, sure--but FAR from all. Most of them take huge loans out to be able to afford to come to school, even with financial aid.

And the SFS curriculum ALREADY includes geography, as the previous poster said. The class is all ABOUT geography. As a student who has taken Map, I can name every single independent country in the world--can you? I am also familiar with the UN Laws of the Sea (and the fact that the US is not a signatory) and many of the ethnic conflicts that have shaped the world's political boundaries, as well as the physical features of the land which produce each country's unique position in the world. The class IS a geography class, and we are fighting to keep it that way. Dean Reardon-Anderson wants to teach a dumbed-down geology class that occasionally looks at a map. The previous curriculum wanted us to KNOW maps (which after all is the title of the class).

EconoSpalsh said...

@SFS '11:
By stating that you can name all of the countries makes you sound elitist. Furthermore, naming countries is not geography. While the author of the post should have stated that the course will be including physical geography (as opposed to introducing geography to begin with), physical geography IS important as it in part defines a culture and people.