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 WorkCountry: Belgium
Day: 1 - Antwerp - Thursday, 12 September
For centuries, Europe was a scene of competing nation-states vying for economic and military dominance; a situation which culminated in the fragmentation and destruction of world wars. But no more! Since World War 2, Europe is now identified as the region most successful at international cooperation, not competition. The two foundation stones that most define Europe in the 21st century are the EU and NATO, and we will take a day to find out more about each of these crucial entities. In the first half of the day, we will visit the Brussels headquarters of the European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the European Union (EU). The EC’s 27 commissioners—one from each EU member country—administer the common policies agreed to by the EU members and propose legislation to the European Parliament. In this sense, the EC functions much like the U.S. Presidency, with the European Parliament and Council of Ministers serving a similar function to the U.S. Congress. We will explore the major challenges to holding this organization together in the modern age, and the major issues they are facing and debating about that manifest themselves in the current events of today. In the afternoon, we will jump into some serious basic training about the most successful military union of all time: NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While the US plays the lead role in the execution of all military maneuvers, the vast majority of members of the group are European states, Europe is home to NATO headquarters, and the Secretary General of NATO is always a European. We will explore the history, cultural and social impacts, and current challenges of NATO in a European context. Specifically, we hope to discover more about European attitudes toward the future of the block, and what it means militarily to individual member states. Academic Objectives: 1. Students will learn about the historical evolution and impact of these two institutions, and how they have helped unify the continent in ways never thought possible in the past. 2. Students will interact with speakers from both organizations to gain a deeper insight into European cultural and social attitudes towards the blocks. 3. Students will be able to critically analyze current events in Europe with a deeper understanding of the role of these two important institutions. 4. Students will engage in debate about the future problems and promise of these institutions in the European experience.