World Geography (field lab in Le Havre)

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Boyer
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 2 - Le Havre - Monday, 16 September | France
Prerequisites: None 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: France
Day: 2 - Le Havre - Monday, 16 September

Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II. But this historic and epic battle was not the only one to occur along this coastline: the Franks, the Vikings, and the Norman Conquest of England all utilized this particular stretch of sand as well. But for our understanding of the modern world, the US military landings here were a significant turning point in the war…and were the beginning of an intimate US/European embrace that continues to this day. In addition, the site commands just as much reverence for the USA as it does for the European continent which would be so radically transformed after the war; as a singular site, it unifies the Atlantic world like no other. We will depart in the morning for a scenic drive through the countryside of Normandy, and I will give a geo-tour of the area through space and time leading up to the D-Day event. The first stop will be in Arromanches, site of the official harbor which was pre-fabricated and towed here, helping the Allies bring supplies ashore. Remnants of the artificial port can still be seen today, and we will visit the Landing Museum to learn more. After lunch, we will continue to St. Laurent and the moving American Cemetery which overlooks Omaha Beach, where some of the most intense fighting took place. Next, we visit Pointe du Hoc, where a heavily-armed German battery was heroically destroyed by American troops on the first day of the invasion. The view from here also provides a unique perspective on to the rugged terrain of Omaha Beach itself, a perfect place for quiet contemplation about these epic events. The drive back to the ship will be a discussion venue about the long-term impacts of the invasion, of World War II in general, and of the evolved relationship of what I refer to as "Team West" which started at this particular place, at this particular junction in history. Academic Objectives: 1. Students will learn about the physical and cultural realm of Normandy, specifically the beaches and their role in historic events of Europe. 2. Students will be immersed in the reality of war: the war museum, films, and visit to the graveyard memorial are both educational and emotional experiences. 3. Students will engage in periods of quiet contemplation and small group discussion about the events in this geographic setting. 4. Students will gain appreciation of the magnitude of the sacrifice, and scale, of this particular crucial battle at this site. 5. Students will have a deeper understanding of the strong relationship between the US and European regions.