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Committee on Geographical Studies

Faculty

  • Luc Anselin, Sociology (Chair)
  • Marc Berman, Psychology
  • Kathleen Cagney, Sociology
  • Michael Conzen
  • Terry Clark, Sociology
  • Xi Song, Sociology
  • Forrest Stuart, Sociology
  • Emily Talen, Social Sciences
  • Robert Vargas, Sociology

Adjunct Faculty

  • Gerald Danzer
  • Richard Greene
  • Todd Schuble, Research Computing Center

The Committee on Geographical Sciences pursues a geospatial perspective on fundamental issues in the urban, environmental, and social sciences.  The main area of interest is the interaction between physical/natural environments, built environments, and people, utilizing a geospatial perspective and methodology to explore issues that impact neighborhoods, cities, regions, and global communities. Example topics include: cultural landscapes and morphological agency, the social justice of urban design, the impact of climate change on urban sustainability, and the geo-visualization of economic disparities. Our faculty pursue research that is spatial, place-based, and policy-oriented.

The Committee on Geographical Sciences supports course work and research opportunities for graduate students in the University. Students from degree programs in different divisions can work with members of the committee for specialized training. However, there is no actual graduate degree in geographical sciences.

Considerable resources to support research in geographical sciences and spatial analysis exist both at the University and in the Chicago area. The Regenstein Library contains a considerable map collection, a unique repository of geography monographs and many specialized holdings. The Newberry Library in downtown Chicago is home to the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography which is the home of a world class collection of antique and historical maps.

In addition, several research centers at the University focus on topics germane to geographical sciences, urban studies and spatial analysis.

The Center for Spatial Data Science (https://spatial.uchicago.edu) develops state of the art methods for geospatial analysis, spatial econometrics, and geo-visualization; implements them through open source software tools; applies them to policy-relevant research in the social sciences; and disseminates them through training and support. It is the home of the GeoDa software for spatial analysis, which has close to 250,000 users world-wide.

The Population Research Center (https://voices.uchicago.edu/popcenter/) focuses on research on human and social capital in an urban context. This urban emphasis is rooted in the emerging significance of global trends in urbanization, and the ongoing and pressing concerns regarding urban populations in the U.S. With this focus, the tools of demography and theoretical precepts of human and social capital can be brought to urban studies.

The Violence, Law, and Politics Lab (https://vlplab.com) studies how local, national, and global politics affect the geography and prevalence of violence in cities and neighborhoods. The lab is interdisciplinary and multi-method and currently focuses on whether violence in American cities can be reduced via increased government accountability, transparency, and the provision of humanitarian or economic assistance.

The Environmental Neuroscience Lab (http://enl.uchicago.edu) researches how the physical environment affects the brain and behavior. Specifically, it focuses on how physical low-level features of nature (such as color and spatial properties) relate to improvements in global brain network connectivity. The lab aims to gain a better understanding and quantification of the relationships between the brain and the environment in order to influence to design of physical environments in ways that will optimize human mental and physical health.

The University of Chicago Research Computing Center (RCC) provides specialized support for Geographic Information Sciences (https://gis.rcc.uchicago.edu). RCC-GIS supports users who want to incorporate GIS methods and software as well as a range of spatial analysis tools. It offers services related to cartography, data mining and transformation, spatial statistics, and software solutions. RCC-GIS also offers a range of specialized workshops and bootcamp courses on GIS and spatial analysis software and methods.

More information about the Committee on Geographical Sciences can be found at https://geography.uchicago.edu

Geographical Studies Courses

GEOG 30100. Cultural Geography. 100 Units.

This course examines the two main concerns of this field of geography: (1) the logic and pathology revealed in the record of the human use and misuse of the Earth, and (2) the discordant relationship of the world political map with more complicated patterns of linguistic and religious distribution.

Instructor(s): TBD     Terms Offered: TBD
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 25900, GEOG 20100

GEOG 30273. Urban Spatial Archaeology I. 100 Units.

Space and time are fundamental concepts in urban spatial science. In this course, students will gain substantive and technical knowledge on how to analyze space and time through the tools of urban spatial archaeology. Specifically, this course will introduce students to various historical data sources on Chicago and New Orleans to digitize, then conduct a spatial historical analysis of any topic of their choice. By taking a historical approach to the study of time and space, students will walk away from the course with (1) ways to conceptualize time and space when studying urban issues, and (2) skills for designing a project to empirically demonstrate the workings of time and space in the real world. At the end of this course, students will be expected to have produced a historical dataset for a research paper that will be completed in the next course sequence.

Instructor(s): R. Vargas     Terms Offered: Winter. Cancelled - Not offered in 2018/19
Prerequisite(s): GEOG 20500 and GEOG 28201
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 20273, GEOG 20273, SOCI 30273

GEOG 30274. Urban Spatial Archaeology II. 100 Units.

This course builds off Urban Spatial Archaeology I, by focusing on more specific ways to apply the concepts of space and time to contemporary urban research issues. Students will also learn methods for analyzing the data they chose to digitize in the previous quarter, which will culminate in a research paper on a topic of their choosing. Students will walk away from this course with a deeper understanding of how researchers and policy makers think of space and time with respect to a particular urban issue. In addition, students will have produced a research paper and data visualization that would critique the ways researchers have traditionally conceptualized time and space.

Instructor(s): R. Vargas     Terms Offered: Spring. Cancelled - Not Offered in 2018/2019
Prerequisite(s): SOCI 20273/30273 and GEOG 20273/30273
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 20274, SOCI 30274, GEOG 20274

GEOG 30500. Introduction to Spatial Data Science. 100 Units.

Spatial data science consists of a collection of concepts and methods drawn from both statistics and computer science that deal with accessing, manipulating, visualizing, exploring and reasoning about geographical data. The course introduces the types of spatial data relevant in social science inquiry and reviews a range of methods to explore these data. Topics covered include formal spatial data structures, geovisualization and visual analytics, rate smoothing, spatial autocorrelation, cluster detection and spatial data mining. An important aspect of the course is to learn and apply open source software tools, including R and GeoDa.

Instructor(s): L. Anselin     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): STAT 22000 (or equivalent), familiarity with GIS is helpful, but not necessary
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 30253, MACS 54000, SOCI 20253, GEOG 20500

GEOG 31900. Historical Geography of the United States. 100 Units.

This course examines the spatial dynamics of empire, the frontier, regional development, the social character of settlement patterns, and the evolution of the cultural landscapes of America from pre-European times to 1900. All-day northern Illinois field trip required.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course offered in even years.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 38800, HIST 28800, GEOG 21900

GEOG 32101. Changing America in the Last 100 Years. 100 Units.

This course explores the regional organization of U.S. society and its economy during the pivotal twentieth century, emphasizing the shifting dynamics that explain the spatial distribution of people, resources, economic activity, human settlement patterns, and mobility. We put special focus on the regional restructuring of industry and services, transportation, city growth, and cultural consumption. Two-day weekend field trip to the Mississippi River required.

Equivalent Course(s): HIST 27506, HIST 37506, GEOG 22101

GEOG 32700. Urban Structure and Process. 100 Units.

This course reviews competing theories of urban development, especially their ability to explain the changing nature of cities under the impact of advanced industrialism. Analysis includes a consideration of emerging metropolitan regions, the microstructure of local neighborhoods, and the limitations of the past American experience as a way of developing urban policy both in this country and elsewhere.

Instructor(s): O. McRoberts     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 20104, GEOG 22700, SOCI 30104, SOCI 20104, SOSC 25100

GEOG 33003. Urban Europe, 1600-present. 100 Units.

This course examines the growth, structure, and, on occasion, decline of European towns and cities from the seventeenth century to the present. The focus throughout is on questions directly related to the positioning, form, and function of urban communities and to the efforts of interest groups and policy makers to shape and promote the fortunes of these communities. The course is interdisciplinary in spirit and content, drawing on the contributions of historians, geographers, sociologists, economists, demographers, political scientists, urban planners, and others. There are no prerequisites; the readings and lectures cover whatever needs to be known about theories, methods, and the European context.

Instructor(s): J. Craig     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 23003, GEOG 23003, HIST 33003

GEOG 33500. Urban Geography. 100 Units.

This course examines the spatial organization and current restructuring of modern cities in light of the economic, social, cultural, and political forces that shape them. It explores the systematic interactions between social process and physical system. We cover basic concepts of urbanism and urbanization, systems of cities urban growth, migration, centralization and decentralization, land-use dynamics, physical geography, urban morphology, and planning. Field trip in Chicago region required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): This course offered in even years.
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 23500, ENST 24660

GEOG 33700. Geographical Issues in Housing and Community Development. 100 Units.

This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Spring. This course offered in even years.
Prerequisite(s): Open to Chicago Studies Program students.
Equivalent Course(s): PBPL 23700, GEOG 23700

GEOG 34100. Urban Design: The Chicago Experience. 100 Units.

This course examines the theory and practice of urban design at the scale of block, street, and building--the pedestrian realm. Topics include walkability, the design of streets, architectural style and its effect on pedestrian experience, safety and security in relation to accessibility and social connection, concepts of urban fabric, repair and placemaking, the regulation of urban form, and the social implications of civic spaces. Students will analyze normative principles and the debates that surround them through readings and discussion, as well as firsthand interaction with the urbanism of Chicago.

Equivalent Course(s): SOSC 36001, SOSC 26001, GEOG 24100, PBPL 24105

GEOG 34300. Chicago by Design. 100 Units.

This course examines the theory and practice of urban design at the scale of block, street and building - the pedestrian realm. Topics include walkability, the design of streets, architectural style and its effect on pedestrian experience, safety and security in relation to accessibility and social connection, concepts of urban fabric, repair and placemaking, the regulation of urban form, and the social implications of civic spaces. Students will analyze normative principles and the debates that surround them through readings and discussion as well as first hand interaction with the urbanism of Chicago.

Instructor(s): E. Talen     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Offered at the Graduate level only
Equivalent Course(s): PPHA 37225, SOSC 36003

GEOG 34700. Introduction to Urban Planning. 100 Units.

The academic study of urban planning encompasses a range of issues dealing with cities, from urban design to governance, economic development, local politics, and place. The goal of this course is to provide a broad overview of urban planning theory and history while at the same time introducing students to basic GIS applications for urban planners. This format provides students with a better contextual understanding of the wide range of issues currently facing 21st century cities, and at the same time serves as an introduction to the everyday practice of urban planning. The course includes readings from prominent urban theorists, a discussion of the historical development of the urban planning profession in the US, and GIS exercises that allow students to apply their theoretical urban knowledge to real-world planning problems.

Instructor(s): Kevin Credit     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 24700, ENST 24680

GEOG 35400. Ancient Landscapes I. 100 Units.

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI's ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 25400, NEAA 30061, ANTH 26710, NEAA 20061, ANTH 36710

GEOG 35500. Biogeography. 100 Units.

This course examines factors governing the distribution and abundance of animals and plants. Topics include patterns and processes in historical biogeography, island biogeography, geographical ecology, areography, and conservation biology (e.g., design and effectiveness of nature reserves).

Instructor(s): B. Patterson (odd years, lab). L., Heaney (even years, discussion)     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Three quarters of a Biological Sciences Fundamentals sequence and a course in either ecology, evolution, or earth history; or consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 23406, GEOG 25500, ENST 25500, EVOL 45500

GEOG 35800. Ancient Landscapes II. 100 Units.

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI's ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): NEAA 20061
Equivalent Course(s): NEAA 20062, NEAA 30062, ANTH 26711, ANTH 36711, GEOG 25800

GEOG 35900. Introduction to Location Analysis. 100 Units.

Understanding the location of business activities - agricultural, industrial, retail, and knowledge-based - has long been a focus for economic geographers, regional scientists, and urban planners. This course traces the key theories and conceptual models that have been developed over time to explain why economic activities tend to locate where they do. To introduce and explain these theories, this course covers several foundational concepts in economic geography and urban planning, such as: bid-rent theory, locational triangulation, various models of urban structure and growth, urban market areas, transportation, economic restructuring, and the "back-to-the-city" movement. This course incorporates several GIS exercises to teach students the basic principles of location optimization and to help illuminate the foundational theoretical principles of economic geography.

Instructor(s): K. Credit     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 25900

GEOG 36005. Seminar in City Planning. 100 Units.

This is a graduate seminar devoted to the topic of city planning history. Through visual and textual analysis, we will explore the history of physical plans, drawing from all time periods and cultures. Students will have the opportunity to contrast competing theories of good city-making, relating cultural and temporal variations to social, political, cultural and economic forces. Students will also explore the question of plan implementation and whether plans have had any tangible effect on urban pattern and form.

Instructor(s): E. Talen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PPHA 37230, SOSC 36005

GEOG 36100. Roots of the Modern American City. 100 Units.

This course traces the economic, social, and physical development of the city in North America from pre-European times to the mid-twentieth century. We emphasize evolving regional urban systems, the changing spatial organization of people and land use in urban areas, and the developing distinctiveness of American urban landscapes. All-day Illinois field trip required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course offered in odd years.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 38900, ENST 26100, HIST 28900, GEOG 26100

GEOG 38000. GIScience Practicum. 100 Units.

This applied course in geographic information science builds upon and refines knowledge and geocomputational expertise gained in the GIScience sequence. Students will develop amultifaceted GIS project incorporating spatial thinking in design, infrastructure, and implementation. Projects could include the development of a web application, dynamic dashboard, interactive storytelling map, infographic-driven policy brief, or research article and are encouraged to link additional disciplines like health, sociology, economics, or political science.

Instructor(s): T. Schuble     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28000

GEOG 38202. Geographic Information Science I. 100 Units.

This course introduces students to a wide range of geospatial technologies and techniques in order to explain the basic theory and application of geographic information systems (GIS). To do this, students will use open source or free software such as QGIS and Google Earth Pro to complete GIS lab exercises that cover a range of topics, including an introduction to different types of geospatial data, geographic measurement, GIS, principles of cartography, remote sensing, basic GIS mapping and spatial analysis techniques, remote sensing, and specific geospatial applications such as 3D modeling and geodesign. By providing a general overview of geospatial technologies, this course provides students with a broad foundational knowledge of the field of GIScience that prepares them for more specialized concepts and applications covered in future GIS courses.

Instructor(s): Kevin Credit     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28202

GEOG 38402. Geographic Information Science II. 100 Units.

This course investigates the theory and practice of infrastructure and computational approaches in spatial analysis and GIScience. Geocomputation is introduced as a multidisciplinary systems paradigm necessary for solving complex spatial problems and facilitating new understandings. Students will learn about the elements of spatial algorithms and data structures, geospatial topologies, spatial data queries, and the basics of geodatabase architecture and design.

Instructor(s): M. Kodak     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): GIS I
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28402

GEOG 38602. Geographic Information Science III. 100 Units.

This advanced course extends and connects both foundational and functional GIScience concepts. Students will be introduced to advanced programming and scripting languages necessary for spatial analysis and GIScience applications. Additional topics include customization, enterprise GIS, web GIS, and advanced visualization and analytic techniques.

Instructor(s): M. Kolak     Terms Offered: Spring. GIS I and GIS II
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28602

GEOG 38700. Readings in Spatial Analysis. 100 Units.

This independent reading option is an opportunity to explore special topics in the exploration, visualization and statistical modeling of geospatial data.

Instructor(s): L. Anselin     Terms Offered: Autumn Spring Winter. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Available for either quality grades or for P/F grading.
Note(s): By permission of instructor only.
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28700, ENST 28800

GEOG 38702. Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis for Social Scientists. 100 Units.

This course provides an introduction and overview of how spatial thinking is translated into specific methods to handle geographic information and the statistical analysis of such information. This is not a course to learn a specific GIS software program, but the goal is to learn how to think about spatial aspects of research questions, as they pertain to how the data are collected, organized and transformed, and how these spatial aspects affect statistical methods. The focus is on research questions relevant in the social sciences, which inspires the selection of the particular methods that are covered. Examples include spatial data integration (spatial join), transformations between different spatial scales (overlay), the computation of "spatial" variables (distance, buffer, shortest path), geovisualization, visual analytics, and the assessment of spatial autocorrelation (the lack of independence among spatial variables). The methods will be illustrated by means of open source software such as QGIS and R.

Instructor(s): M. Kolak     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28702

GEOG 38800. History of Cartography. 100 Units.

This course offers a grand overview of the key developments in mapmaking throughout history worldwide, from pre-literate cartography to the modern interactive digital environment. It looks at the producers, their audience, the technologies and artistic systems used, and the human and global contexts in which they developed. The course also draws on the extensive map collections of Regenstein Library.

Instructor(s): G. Danzer     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 28800

GEOG 38900. Readings in Urban Planning and Design. 100 Units.

This independent reading option is an opportunity to explore contemporary debates and theoretical arguments involved in the planning and design of cities.

Instructor(s): E.Talen     Terms Offered: Autumn Spring Winter. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Available for either quality grades or for P/F grading.
Note(s): By permission of instructor only.
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 28980, GEOG 28900

GEOG 40217. Spatial Regression Analysis. 100 Units.

This course covers statistical and econometric methods specifically geared to the problems of spatial dependence and spatial heterogeneity in cross-sectional data. The main objective of the course is to gain insight into the scope of spatial regression methods, to be able to apply them in an empirical setting, and to properly interpret the results of spatial regression analysis. While the focus is on spatial aspects, the types of methods covered have general validity in statistical practice. The course covers the specification of spatial regression models in order to incorporate spatial dependence and spatial heterogeneity, as well as different estimation methods and specification tests to detect the presence of spatial autocorrelation and spatial heterogeneity. Special attention is paid to the application to spatial models of generic statistical paradigms, such as Maximum Likelihood, Generalized Methods of Moments and the Bayesian perspective. An important aspect of the course is the application of open source software tools such as R, GeoDa and PySal to solve empirical problems.

Instructor(s): L. Anselin     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): MACS 55000, SOCI 40217

GEOG 42400. Urban Landscape As Social Text. 100 Units.

The seminar explores conceptually how urban landscapes are formed (literally) and reciprocally how they inform social perceptions of community settings (figuratively). This is done through an initial program of reading and discussion, as well as pursuit of individual student projects, discussed as they progress, leading to a final research paper. The course serves students searching for and defining possible thesis and dissertation topics, as well as those interested in exploring an intellectual curiosity for its own sake. - CONZEN Fall Quarter

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Advanced standing and consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 30303

GEOG 51500. Urban Geography. 100 Units.

Study of a selected research topic in urban geography, leading to a final paper. Consent of instructor required. - CONZEN, TALEN, BARLOW

Instructor(s): M. Conzen, E. Talen.     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Note(s): Consent of instructor.

GEOG 51800. Rsch: Historical Geography. 100 Units.

This course is intended for individual study of selected problems in historical geography, with periodic meetings with the instructor to discuss progress, leading to a final research paper.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor

GEOG 51900. Rsch: Historical Geography of the U.S. and Canada. 100 Units.

This course is intended for individual study of selected problems in the historical geography of the United States and Canada, with periodic meetings with the instructor to discuss progress, leading to a final research paper.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor

GEOG 52500. Rsch: American Urbanization. 100 Units.

This course is intended for individual study of selected problems in American urbanization, with periodic meetings with the instructor to discuss progress, leading to a final research paper.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen, E. Talen     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor

GEOG 59800. Rsch: Topics in Geography. 100 Units.

This course is intended for individual study of selected problems in geography, with periodic meetings with the instructor to discuss progress, leading to a final research paper.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen, L. Anselin, E. Talen.     Terms Offered: Autumn Spring Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor