Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interview with Dr. Reardon-Anderson of Georgetown University

Dr. James Reardon-Anderson of Georgetown University is making an effort to bring geography into his foreign service class. Sadly, some students oppose this move because they do not see the purpose of geography in the "Map of the Modern World Class." Not one but two Facebook groups have even been established to give voice to the protesters.

Dr. Reardon-Anderson has taken time out of his busy schedule and allowed himself to be interviewed by Catholicgauze. Here below are the questions and answers.

Catholicgauze: What convinced you to add geography to the Map of the Modern World class?
Dr. Reardon-Anderson: I have long believed that physical geography has been both important and neglected in the study of international affairs -- as well as other areas of human behavior. I consider this neglect a major short-coming of education at SFS (and other institutions of higher learning) and think it is time to introduce it into the curriculum.

CG: You have encountered some public opposition by students to the change. Why do you think that is?
DRA: There has been considerable negative reaction to the announced change in the content of the course, "Map of the Modern World." The reasons are varied. It is better to let the critics speak for themselves.

CG: Do you know of any other efforts by Georgetown to integrate geography into other classes?
DRA: I believe geography is included in some courses in the major on 'Science, Technology and International Affairs,' but not in other parts of the curriculum. That is why I have taken this initiative myself.

CG: What does geography mean to you?
DRA: The course in question focuses on physical geography, which include land forms, climate and the resultant life forms and their impacts on human behavior. This is a particular take on "geography" and does not represent the discipline as a whole.

I would like to personally thank Dr. Reardon-Anderson for taking time out of his day to be interviewed for this blog.


Tom said...

I think it is a little disingenuous to claim that we are opposed to adding physical geography to the course. Considering the great extent to which physical geography is already emphasized, which you would understand if you read the syllabus and articles, it is absurd to suggest the course has never touched on the topic.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Reardon-Anderson is completely mistaken. It's obvious from his comments that he's never sat in on a single class of "Map of the Modern World," which has ALWAYS included physical geography as well as teaching students about the cultural and ethnic groups of the regions of the world and how their conflicts have shaped the political geography of this planet, which we had to commit to memory as we were responsible for knowing the location, date of independence, and former colonial master (where applicable) for every state in the world. Dr. Reardon-Anderson wants to teach such items as "the earth-sun relationship" (actual quotation from his proposed curriculum).

Adhip said...

The interviewer thanks Jim Reardon-Anderson for introducing "geography" to the Course. What the interviewer means is "physical geography" because there is plenty of "political geography" in the Course now. There is another very important type of geography and that is Economic Geography. That will be missing from the Course.

adrianamo819 said...

I must admit, I am one of the alumni who has voiced their protest over the changes made to the curriculum.

This is in no way a personal offense against Dr. Reardon-Anderson, but I believe that the previous course was and is essential for any student who plans to participate not only in foreign service, but as a knowledgeable member of society.

The author of this article unknowingly states that the course did not include geography. Quite the opposite!

The "old" Map of the Modern World dealt with countries, border disputes, independence movements, civil wars, and how all of these specifically were influenced or affected by the physical geography around it: lakes, rivers, mountains, rain forests, and oceans...

Dr. Reardon-Anderson is new to the DC campus, and as such, I don't believe that he can truly appreciate the fact that the old syllabus DID include parts of what he likes.

However, I truly find the study of tectonic plates and the Earth-Sun relationship (as proposed in the syllabus by Dr. R-A) to be not only irrelevant to the subject (MAP of the MODERN World), but an insult to Georgetown students' intelligence.

Anonymous said...

The problem with adding all of this new stuff is that it dilutes a course that is already amazingly broad. It is rediculous that Georgetown students only get one credit (which doesn't count towards their GPA) for learning the location of all the world's countries, the status and reasons for all of their current and major border disputes and civil conflicts, as wells as whatever other minutia the professor wants to throw in. Are we really going to be able to learn all of this and the fundementals of physical geography in one hour per week?