GEO 466/566: The Profession of Geography

Assignments and Exams

Below you will find descriptions and due dates for all of the assignments for this course, as well as a description of the exam format.

Class Participation

Part of your grade this semester will be based on your level of participation in the class. To participate, you obviously have to attend class, and you are expected to attend each and every class session. Because emergencies do come up, you will be allowed three absences for the semester, though you will be held responsible for the material you miss. With your fourth absence, your class participation grade will be lowered one full grade, such as from an A- to a B-. With your fifth absence, you will receive an F for the course regardless of your test and paper scores, as per Geography Department policy.

In class, you should participate actively by asking questions and interjecting relevant comments and observations based on your experiences or the course readings. This is especially important during class discussions of assigned readings. You should be sure you come to class having read the materials and having thought about them. Following student presentations, you should also ask questions and make comments. Put briefly, play an active role in class!

Geographic Traditions Paper

Each student will write a 3-5 page essay based on his/her reading and interpretation of William Pattison's article, "The Four Traditions of Geography." In this essay, you should examine the author's ideas critically. Does his scheme of four traditions have merit? Does he neglect other traditions? Why did he seek to identify traditions within geography in the first place? Based on his conclusions, is geography "one" or "many"?

In addition to looking at the article critically, you should devote part of your essay to the following question: Within which of Pattison's traditions do you see yourself fitting best? As evidence to support your choice, discuss your interests and career aspirations. Your essay is due by September 16, 1996.

Internet Search

In the last two years, there has been an explosion of interest in the Internet, and the result has been an abundance of information on virtually every topic imagineable. Geographic topics have not been neglected in this trend. Accordingly, each student will conduct a search of the World Wide Web for sites related to geography in its broadest sense.

Specifically, you are to locate at least a dozen distinct WWW "addresses" or URLs (uniform resource locators). These should be from different home pages. You should try to find a variety of different resources, including geography department pages, corporate pages, GIS pages, etc.

Please submit your items in the following manner:

You may submit your findings by e-mail or as a more traditional typed document. The due date is October 7, 1996.

Presentation Evaluations

Whether you enter academics or the public or private sector, the chances are good that one day you will make a professional presentation. You will make a presentation to the class later in the semester, but in the meantime you can begin to evaluate the presentations of others. The West Lakes/East Lakes AAG conference affords the class a prime opportunity to observe a number of different presentations.

Your assignment in this regard is to attend at least four paper presentations, watching and listening closely to each of them. You are then to evaluate these presentations in a 2-4 page summary. You should address the following questions: How effective was the presentation? Did the presenter organize the material well and present it clearly? Did he or she use illustrations or handouts effectively and meaningfully? Did the presenter state his or her conclusions clearly? What was your overall impression of the presentation? Evaluations are due October 30, 1996.

Paper Presentation

Building on our evaluations of presentation quality, each student will present a paper to the class in a mock conference session at the end of the semester. For this assignment, you may write a new paper on a topic of your choice, you may present a paper you are writing for another geography class this semester, or you may revise and present a paper you wrote for a geography class in a previous semester. All topics should be cleared with Prof. Kilpinen in advance.

You will be graded mainly on the quality of your presentation, rather than on the information your paper contains. Still, you should be sure you state the purpose of your paper at the outset of your talk, discuss the topic/problem in some detail, and state your conclusions clearly. Presentations will be limited to 10-12 minutes, with time for questions afterwards. Use of illustrations where appropriate is strongly encouraged.

The actual presentation sessions will be held in class on December 4 & 9, 1996. Topics must be approved no later than November 20.

Biographic Sketch of an Influential Geographer

Geography, like many fields, has been shaped by individuals, mainly through their ideas, research, and writings. This semester you'll have the chance to look at the work of some individual geographers through a group project. Your task is to prepare a detailed biographical sketch of one of the most influential geographers that lived and/or worked in your assigned geographic region. Your sketch should include the following:

Life History: Birth and (if not alive) death dates, educational background, any family or personal information you can glean.

Professional Contribution to Geography: A detailed explanation of the contribution this person made to the discipline. Include examples of his/her writing, analysis of the type of work done, overall influence made upon geography.

Annotated Bibliography of Written Works: Select several (2-3) examples of his/her works and prepare a short annotated bibliography of each.

Geographic Regions:

Russia Germany British Isles
France Canada Scandinavia
Greco-Roman World The Arab World Benelux
Australia China/Japan United States

For an on-line sample of a biographical sketch, take a look at the profile I've prepared of our department's founder, Alfred H. Meyer.

This will be a group project. Your partner in this case will be a student in a class similar to ours at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Partners will be assigned and geographic regions selected on September 11.

Each of you should work closely with your partner to select the geographer you will focus upon. You should also divide up the tasks for the project and document who is responsible for each part of the assignment. Successful group work depends on frequent communication. Your task will be much easier if you cooperate with your partner and share equally the responsibility for successful completion of the assignment.

When you complete the assignment, your biographic sketch should be placed on-line on your MU student partner's homepage. Sketches should be up and running by noon on November 4, 1996. You and your partner should send an e-mail message giving the URL of your assignment location to both: and

Resumé Assignment

Part of being a professional in any field these days involves having an accurate, presentable resumé. This all-important document (along with your letter of application, in some cases) gives potential employers their first impression of you. Accordingly, it must convey all of your relevant professional credentials while still remaining concise.

Since you will all need one in the near future, one of your assignments this semester will be to prepare a resumé for yourself. You should submit two copies of your resumé on high-quality stationery on November 18, 1996. You will receive more details on this assignment later.


There will be two examinations during the semester, a midterm and a cumulative final. These exams will consist of two sections—short answer and essay. Short answer questions will include such items as definitions, identifications, listings, and brief explanations. Essay questions will be comparative rather than merely descriptive in nature. There will be an option to select two of three possible essay topics.

To Student Projects

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Last revised October 2, 1996, by JTK.