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GEO 518
Professional Seminar in Geography

Every Winter
3 credits
Mondays, 3:00-5:20 p.m., Wilkinson 231

Dr. Anne Nolin | Dr. Dawn Wright

The focus of this class is on the professional development of graduate students in geography, and thus will emphasize three objectives: (1) reaching an improved understanding of geography as a discipline and, in particular, the specialty areas of the OSU Geography Program (resource geography, physical geography, geographic information science); (2) developing graduate research projects from general interest areas to a research proposal, including a literature review, research questions and hypotheses, methods, and a timeline and budget; (3) developing and improving well-rounded scientific communication skills, including written, oral (formal and informal), and visual. Much of the work during the term will focus on developing your thesis proposal, and we will use that as the context for you to present your work in each of these communication formats.

This course is:
Required for all incoming Geography Master of Science students.
Optional but Recommended for all incoming Geography Doctoral students (please consult with your major advisor).

Effective communication is learned through practice and feedback. Therefore, most of the course will be in the format of a graduate seminar. We will have some formal lecture time, but the emphasis will be on interaction, discussion, and presentation.

Learning Outcomes:
Students completing GEO 518 will be to:
  Assessment Methods
(1) Formulate a testable and tractable research hypothesis
related to their proposed research topic.
  Writing assignments and in-class discussion.
(2) Assemble and evaluate a feasible thesis project.   Classroom discussion.
(3) Compose a well-written draft of their thesis proposal.   Writing assignments.
(4) Evaluate scientific writing, including editing and
critiquing other students' work.
  Writing assignments and in-class work.
(5) Present a prepared scientific talk.   Class presentation.
(6) Help lead a panel discussion and actively participate
in classroom discussions.
  Class presentation and participation.
(7) Introduce a speaker.   In-class work.
(8) Critique a scientific poster   Assignment.

Required Text:
Davis, M., 2004. Scientific Papers and Presentations: 2nd Edition, San Diego, CA, Academic Press, 384 pp., ISBN: 0120884240.

Required Article:
Lowenthal, D., 2005. Fruitful liaison or folie a deux? The AAG and the AGS, The Professional Geographer, 57(3): 468-473. [pdf]

Reference Materials:

Additional required readings will be assigned by the student-led panels and made available on this class web site.

Not required but a useful text:
Tufte, E. R., The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd ed., Graphics Press, 197 pp. 2001. QA276.3 .T83 2001

Course Grading:

  • 20% - Attendance & participation, as well as short in-class and take-home assignments.
  • 20% - Homework assignments.
  • 20% - Student-led presentations-discussions of their specialty areas.
  • 40% - Research proposal including: (1) outline (with some detail); (2) written proposal; (3) presentation of proposal; and, (4) appendix of an annotated bibliography of 10 scientific articles.

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    Last updated: November 9, 2005

    © Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University