Geography Special Topics Courses, 2022-23

GGR386H1-F: Special Topics in Geographical Information Systems 


Visualizing geographic information forms an important step in aiding visual thinking, generating hypotheses, and communicating findings relating to places. Geovisualization not only involves the display of spatial data through static maps, but also the process of creating 3D, dynamic, or interactive visualizations for data exploration, insights, and analysis. This course will introduce the foundations and capabilities of geovisualization for scientific communication, and students will learn techniques and tools to develop and critically appraise a range of geovisual outputs. 

GGR388H1-S: Special Topics in Physical and Environmental Geography 

Soil and Water: Landscape Processes 

An introduction to physical and chemical processes operating at micro - to 
landscape scales and their effects on soil and water quality. Discussion of anthropogenic impacts and management and conservation issues. Local and international case studies. The four main topics to be covered are 1) watershed hydrology; 2) riparian biogeochemistry; 3) hydrogeology; and 4) urban stormwater management. The overarching themes are scale (process to landscape) and sustainable environmental management , with a particular emphasis on urban environments. 

GGR389H1-F: Special Topics in Human Geography 

China in the Global Political Economy 

China’s ascendancy as an economic superpower and its economic integration with the world have transformed its domestic political economy and reshaped the geopolitical dynamics of the planet. This course is designed to understand globalizing China from a geographic political economy perspective. We will examine the political and institutional foundations, especially those tied to state-market relations and central-local relations, of China’s emerging market economy, and China’s spatially uneven economic development. We will scrutinize China’s embrace of global investment and its 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). We will review the development trajectory of a few key industrial sectors to show how China’s integration into the global production system is crucial to its rise as the “factory of the world.” We will also engage debates on how the world order is being transformed by China’s trade war and escalating tension with the U.S. and the Western world, and the impact of China’s expansion abroad through programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  

GGR400H1-S: Special Topics in Geography I 

The Problem and Promise of Caribbean Freedom 

This course surveys the material conditions and institutional and ideological structures that have historically governed the Caribbean, internally and externally; the patterns of uneven development and crisis they have produced; and the forms of agency and resistance they have spurred. By examining the social, economic, and spatial inter-connectedness of the Caribbean territorial region and its increasingly de-territorialized diaspora, we will identify possibilities for change and social justice for all Caribbean communities. 

GGR401H1-F: Special Topics in Geography II 

Geospatial Big Data 

Advances in sensing and mobile technologies have contributed to the increasing availability of large volume georeferenced data such as geo-tagged social media content, GPS traces, and crowdsourced maps. While geospatial big data provide a major source for innovation and analysis, challenges relating to data handling, processing, and interpretation simultaneously arise. In this course, students will build a critical understanding of the evolution, potential, and biases of geospatial big data and the role of citizen science and volunteered geographic information (VGI) in geographic research. Knowledge of geo-computational techniques, including machine learning methods, to handle geospatial big data and perform meaningful analysis will also be developed and applied. 

GGR458H1-S:  Special Topics in Urban Geography

Urban Problems

Cities, or at least parts of cities, have long been framed as a problem, particularly in large sprawling federalist societies like the United States and Canada. Exactly what those problems are, who they affect, and what should be done (or not done) about them vary over time and space. This is a seminar on the social construction of urban problems. We will explore the tension between on-the-ground challenges such as deprivation, crime, and depopulation, on the one hand, and the way that these problems are deployed by political and economic elites to motivate (or in some cases avoid) change, on the other.