World Geography

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Boyer
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1300
End: 1415
Field Work: Day 5 - Monday, 19 October | Spain Download Syllabus

World Geography is a survey course designed to acquaint undergraduate students with a variety of geographic, historic, environmental, demographic, religious and economic characteristics of various areas of the world. The objectives of the course are to broaden and strengthen the individual’s interest in the world at large and to consider how/where/why physical and cultural forces shape and define the earth we live on. The world is a big place, filled with trillions of facts and figures, billions of people, hundreds of thousands of places, and lifetimes of experience: we can only cover so much. Readings, lectures, slides, and films will be employed to promote interest and highlight geographic themes, but are not intended as exhaustive regional surveys.

Field Work

Country: Spain
Day: 5 - Monday, 19 October

For centuries, Europe was a scene of competing nation-states vying for economic and military dominance; a situation that culminated in the fragmentation and destruction of world wars. But since World War 2, Europe is now identified as the region most successful at international cooperation, not competition…specifically with the creation of the European Union, the foundation stone that most defines European unity in the the 21st century.   However, given the current financial crisis in European economies, combined with an existential cultural crisis that increasingly trouble EU-sceptics, the grand European Union experiment has been challenged as of late. There has not only been a rise in political power of anti-EU parties in virtually every European country, but there has also been a rise in challenging the concept of the nation-state itself. These devolutionary forces are evidenced by the recent referendum on Scottish independence form the UK, and the very current and on-going independence movement in Catalonia to tear itself away from Spain, which will be the focus of our field lab. In the first half of the day, we’ll visit with some Spanish officials in Barcelona to learn about Spain's history of European Union engagement, as well as the official position and attitude about the Catalonian independence movement, followed by a Q+A session concerning the future of Spain itself and its role within the EU. Followed by a brief lunch in the historic downtown district. Afternoon activities start with a visit to the The Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, a historic palace in Barcelona that houses the offices of the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya: it is the institution under which the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain is politically organized. It consists of the Parliament of Catalonia, the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Government of Catalonia. We will receive a talk from the highest-ranking member of the movement that we can secure, and have a Q+A focused on Catalonia's autonomous community status and degree of true autonomy, the history of Catalonia, goals of their proposed statehood, and the catalyst that have promoted the independence movement itself. Academic objectives:

  1. Students will learn about the historical evolution and current status of the European Union and of the sovereign state of Spain, and the devolutionary forces that are challenging both of these entities in the modern era.
  2. Students will learn about Catalonian culture and history, and the current Catalan movement for independence from Spain.
  3. Students will be able to critically analyze current events in Europe with a deeper understanding of the role of these important institutions and the local devolutionary forces challenging them.
  4. Students will engage in debate about the future problems and promise of the idea of a singular federation of nation-states in Europe versus a balkanization of Europe into an increasing number of micro-states