Mapping the World’s Natural Resources

GNM 1242

Thursday 5:30 – 9:20pm                                                                                                    Fall  2009



Professor:  Dr. Dan Moscovici                                                                                  Office:  B-118


Office Hours:  By appointment.

Cell (215) 688-2910                                                                                                                           



Course Description and Objectives


This General Sciences and Mathematics (GNM) course explores the geography of global issues, especially including those related to the environment, sustainability, and development.  In addition to heightening students' geographic knowledge, the seminar focuses on using, analyzing, and making maps.  Students receive an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) computer software (ArcGIS). They embark upon a series of case study projects (Costa Rica, The Adirondacks, and one of their choosing) exploring the physical geography of topical international and domestic issues.


Course Texts


Blackboard Weekly Readings – see below


World Wall Map – required. Hang it up on a prominent wall in your house (one that you look at often). If you don’t buy the map – it will be difficult to pass the course successfully.


Good resources:

-          Mapping quiz -

-          US GIS Data -

-          Geography testing -

-          More Map quizzes -



Course Requirements


Attendance:  Class attendance is mandatory.  Students are allowed a total of 2 unexcused absences for the whole semester.  More than two unexcused absences will affect students’ grade significantly.  Four or more unexcused absences will result in an automatic ‘F’ for the course grade.



Map Analysis: The class will be divided into continental groups (S. America, N. America, Africa, Europe, Asia, & Australasia). Each group will be responsible for finding a map (digital or paper) relating to that class week’s content. There will be presentations and explanations of the map at the beginning of every class from each group. Each group must work out the details amongst themselves to represent their continent to the class. An example: If we are discussing increased Sea Level  – you should find a sea level map from your continent or a major country of your continent (if the entire continent is not available) – have it prepared digitally before class & explain everything about it. You must email the map to me to get credit for the Presentation.


This project will prepare you for the final presentation/project


Exams:  There will be 2 exams in the course:  a midterm and a final.


In-class Discussion:   Students are expected to participate in the class discussions pertaining to the reading assignments and supplementary material. This is a big component of the final grade. Coming to class each week will account for about 12.5% of the grade, but participation will result in the other 12.5%.


Final Project:  Students are required to do a final presentation & map, requiring students individually to create a map using GIS. We will hold an exhibition to highlight your hard work.



Grading:          Attendance                                           12.5%

                        Participation                                          12.5%

                        Mini – Presentation                                                                               5%      

Midterm Exam:                                     15%                                        

2 GIS assignments                                 15%

                        Final Presentation:                                 15%

Final Poster:                                          10%

Final Exam:                                           15%


Grading Scale:            A+       97-100                    D+       67-69

                                    A         93-96                      D         63-66

                                    A-        90-92                      D-        60-62

                                    B+        87-89                      F          0-59

                                    B          83-86

                                    B-        80-82

                                    C+        77-79

                                    C          73-76

                                    C-        70-72



Class Rules and Policies

1.       Please turn off your cell phones in class.

2.       Please do not leave during class.

3.       Please do not be tardy to class.

4.       There will be no make-up exams offered.

5.       Late assignments will receive grade reductions of 10% for every 24 hours that they are late.

6.       Any forms of plagiarism and/or academic dishonesty will be reported to the proper university authorities and appropriate actions will be taken. 

      Refer to for information and resources for students to learn about avoiding plagiarism.




Course Schedule and Reading List:




Week 1


Thurs.                                       Introduction: Syllabus & Introductions

Sept. 3                                      Surprise……  (a good one? Maybe not?)



Week 2                                  


Thurs.                                       Introduction to Geography?

Sept. 10                                    What is GIS?

                                                How to Lie With Maps


-          Bergman & Renwick. 2008. Introduction to Geography: People, Places, and Environment. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, Prentice Hall). pp. 1-40.

-          Monmonier, Mark. (1996). How to Lie with Maps. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press). pp 87-112.


                                                                Map Topic: Deceptive Map



Week 3                                  


Thurs.                                       Case Study #1: Costa Rica Hydropower & Mapping Dams

Sept. 17                                   

-     Fearnside, Philip. M (2001). “Environmental Impacts of Brazil’s Tucurui Dam: Unlearned Lessons for Hydroelectric Development in Amazonia.” Environmental Management.  Vol. 27, No. 3. pp. 377-396


-                                                               -      Moscovici, Daniel and Craig Wegener.. (2008). “Planning for Scale – Plan Puebla Panama and the Diquis Hydroelectric Project.” Panorama – University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Planning and Practice – in review. Spring 2008. pgs. 1-8.


                                                                Map Topic: Hydropower & Hydrology


                                                Final Project Assignment Distributed – September 17




Week 4                                  


Thurs.                                       History of Maps  

Sept. 24                                    Climate Change movie



                                                                        Frontline: Heat -


                                                                Two Map Topics: Climate Change +Historical Maps






Week 5


Thurs.                                       Case Study #2: Triple Bottom Line Forestry & Protection in

Oct. 1                                       Adirondack Region   + Adirondack GIS Mapping


·         Lapping, M.B., & Furuseth, O.J. (2004). “The History of Planning in the Adirondack ParkBig Places, Big Plans. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 139-178.



Map Topic: Forestry


Project Topics due Oct. 1



Week 6                                   NO CLASS – Instead on Saturday October 17th (Week 6 ALT)


Oct. 8                                      



Week 7


Thurs.                                       Alternative Energy Options & GIS  Project Time

Oct. 15                                    

      -               Read about each type of energy from the D.O.E. Website


                                                2nd half of class time: Come to Class with Data, outline, and bibliography

                                                Individual Appointments


                                                Map Topic: Alternative Energy



Week 6 ALT (in lieu of Thursday October 8)


Sat.                                          Canoeing and Mapping the Batsto River. Meet at Belhaven Canoes

Oct. 17                                    

                                                *If you cannot attend see me about make up paper




Week 8


Thurs.                                       Midterm & Movie

Oct. 22

                                                -     Film: Anderson Cooper 360 – Natural Resources and Conflicts



Week 9                                  



Oct 23                                      Meet at Free Library of PhiladelphiaLogan Circle - Presentation


Thurs                                        NO CLASS THIS THURSDAY  INSTEAD…..IN PHILADELPHIA Oct. 29          – Free Library of Philadelphia Map Collection on Oct. 23  -  2-4pm

                                                *If you cannot attend see me about make up paper



Week 10


Thurs                                        Map Lab Time + Extras        

Nov. 5                                     

                                                - Discuss final exhibit, midterm review, review of Costa Rica & Adirondack GIS Maps + Map jeopardy



Week 11


Thurs                                        Geography Presentations – Round 1

Nov. 12                                   




Week 12


Thurs                                        Geography Presentations – Round 2

Nov. 19                                   



Week 13


Tues/Thurs                               No Class – Thanksgiving Break

Nov. 26



Week 14


Thurs                                        Map Pin-Up Exhibition (first half)    Final Exam (second half)

Dec. 3