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GEOG 321
Winter 1998
Western Washington University


Syllabus Details

Instructor: Alan Forsberg

Office: AH 204

Phone: 650-3285


Meeting Times: Monday, 1:00-2:00 pm in BI 212 (For Internet Based Presentations), Wednesday and Friday, 1:00-2:00 pm in ES 418 (please note that on occasion we will be using one of these meeting times for informal discussion).

Office Hours and Availability: Regularly scheduled office hours will be Wedenesdays from 2:30-3:30; I also will have office hours by appointment.

Course Description: This course does not presume any prior knowledge of Africa and is intended as an overview of contemporary environmental and development problems on the continent. Given the enormity of the issues involved and the sheer number of sub-Saharan polities (nearly fifty), this course emphasizes themes such as the legacies of colonialism, urbanization, agrarian crisis, problems of food procurement, drought and famine, and strategies of rural development and conservation. The course is organized thematically and historically.

Beginning with an overview of this vast and diverse continent, we will be introduced to themes covered later in more detail. Next we will look at the structure of African society prior to its incorporation into the world economy in the sixteenth century, and will document the effects of commercial expansion and colonial rule on the contemporary character of African underdevelopment. Added emphasis will be placed on questions of development, culture, gender, population, ecological change, sustainable agroecosystems, deforestation, and wildlife conservation. The course may also include additional outside readings.

Course Structure and Evaluation: This is an upper-division course. This implies certain responsibilities for all participants.

Students are invited to discuss their progress in the course with Alan Forsberg throughout the quarter.

Attendance and Participation: There will be many opportunities to participate in class discussion. Such participation is considered an integral part of the class.

Term Paper: You will be required to turn in a term paper with at least ten references from scholarly journals, . The papers should be double-spaced and typed, and should be between six-eight pages in length, excluding references and illustrations. Papers need to be typed, consistent in style, and well written. A deep, full treatment Of a limited subject will be more valuable to you than a broad-brush survey of a larger question.

Papers must discuss environmental and social impacts of interventions and have a regional emphasis. Most importantly, the paper must include concepts and ideas discussed in this course with an emphasis on spatial or temporal aspects such as: The European scramble for Africa (in maps), geography of apartheid, urban informality and transportation, Agribusiness and women peasants in Tanzania, dryland agroecosystems in Niger, high fertility in sub-Saharan Africa, physical landscapes and management strategies in Ivory Coast, Islamic and medieval civilizations, women's initiatives in Chad, upgrading rural infrastructure in Zambia, community-based cooperatives for processing textiles in Kenya, African entrepreneurship and smallscale industry in Madagascar, causes of political instability in sub-Saharan Africa, Sahel shrubland and water conservation strategies, response strategies to deforestation in Democratic Republic of the Congo, chattel slavery and the Middle Passage, serf slavery in sixteenth century Sahelian kingdoms, desertification in Niger -- fact and fiction, patrilineal and matrilineal inheritance in The Gambia, protein-calorie nutrition and malnutrition in Ghana, independence movements in Zimbabwe, land tenure in The Gambia, Somalia --religious and ethnic conflict, refugee migration from Rwanda, demographic transition in Nigeria, family planning in Kenya, health care in Cameroon, African traditional medicine in Gabon, core-peripheral disparities in Sudan, and structural adjustment programs and African women.

Papers are due Wednesday, March 4. Outlines and bibliographies for the papers are due Friday, February 6. Late papers will be penalized or not be accepted. Please make use of the Writing Center (you can sign up for appointments at the Center). The Writing Center has many self-help resources including style manuals and writing guides such as The Guide: Writing at Western and A Short Guide to Writing about Social Sciences. Check out Alan's links to citations and bibliographies on the course webpage.

Grades and Grading:

The final grade in the course will be based on --

No make-up exams will be given.

The final letter grades will be assigned on a straight

>90%=A, >80%=B >70%=C, >60%=D

Required Readings:

Aryeetey-Attoh, Samuel, ed. Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 1997.

F. Jeffres Ramsay ed. Global Studies Africa Dushkin Annual Editions 1997

A novel by an African author of your choice, available from bookstores such as Village Books as well as public libraries.

Selected Readings on Reserve in Wilson Library (see the schedule of readings).

Recommended Texts:

Chambers, Robert. Rural development, putting the last first. Reading, MA: Longman, Inc. 1984.

Rau, Bill. From feast to famine. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Zed. 1993.

Based on Gigi Berardi's syllabus from Winter 1997. See also the work, course syllabi, etc. of Judy Carney (Geography, UCLA) for more information.


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