Geographic Research Paper

Each student will prepare a final research paper based on the themes of processes and scale. Begin by reading the news, listening to a podcast or the radio, and identify a real-world issue regarding a geographic process we have discussed in class. Examples include:

Cultural preservation
Cultural appropriation
Urban transformation
Movement and migration
Trade and global economics
Rural development
Border dispute or resource dispute
Diffusion of religion
You may choose any one of these, but if there is another process that interests you then feel free to investigate that instead.

Begin by describing the process in detail. Give a bit of history of this specific process like where/when it began, how it has changed over time and across space, and what it’s like now. Find a point in history that was important in the process – do not worry about going way back to the 16th century, for example, unless you think that is relevant to the discussion. Discuss how that process has moved across space (as in from one place to another) or operated across space. Think in terms of how an identity or idea moves, or the ‘reach’ that a process has across space. Explain why it’s significant today, why someone should care about it or learn more about it.

Next, identify how this process can be seen at different scales, and how scale helps us better understand the effects of this process. Think in terms of local versus regional or global. If you see a process as having originated in a small geographic extent, like a town or city, find ways in which it has been influential in a regional or global context. For example, an activist movement that originates in a single neighborhood may have resulted in a city or state policy that reaches well beyond the place the movement started. If you see the process as having originated in a large geographic extent, as in from a state government or global organization, find ways this affects localities and the people within them. For example, a civil war or military action may have very specific impacts for how people see or conduct themselves at the local level somewhere that is or is not directly affected by the conflict.

Finally, relate these effects to some specific geographic concepts from the text and lectures. Ask yourself, “How is this a process of convergence/divergence, residential succession, segregation, geopolitics, gender roles/perceptions, nationalism, etc.” There are a number of concepts we have discussed and there may be some overlap between them – limit your focus to one or two of these concepts and justify why this is an appropriate way to identify the process as such.

Format and Guidelines

The final paper will be ~1,400 words or roughly 4-5 pages. Please do not go too far over or under the word limit. You will be required to cite at least four peer-reviewed academic sources. These include academic books or journal articles, not news stories. Use the news as a jumping off point and then find peer-reviewed documents by searching Google Scholar or the school library catalog.

MLA format

Grading Rubric

Using process (from the past to the present) and scales (from local to regional and national and even transnational) in analysis: 6 points;

Interpreting and relating analysis to the concept(s): 4 points;

Explaining significance: 4 points;

Writing and format: 4 points;

Academic citation: 2 points;

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