Sched. # 21494: TTH 2:00 – 3:15 AH-3177
Spring 2015
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Welcome to U.S. Geography! In this class, you’ll learn the broad and
complex attributes of the U.S., including the physical, cultural, economic and environmental
influences that shape a region. All regions are examined, from the northeastern U.S., to Alaska and
Hawaii. Current land uses, activities and functions are covered in order to understand what makes each
region unique, and relevant current issues are examined to help gain perspective on landscapes,
resources and sustainability. The purpose of the course is to engage students in learning about and
analyzing the complex, fascinating, unique and beautiful geography of the U.S.
Many different environments, cultures, economies and issues are covered in the class.
Instructor: Diana Gauss Richardson
Office: Storm Hall 301B; Office hours: T 11:00 – noon, 3:30 – 4:30; W 1:00 – 3:00; Th 11- noon,
and specific appointments. My door is usually open, so please feel free to drop by anytime even if
it is outside of office hours.
Phone: 594-5476; email: [email protected]
Check Blackboard (BB) for notices, assignments, posting of scores, other relevant course
Required books:
Hardwick, Geography of North America, 2nd Ed., Pearson Publishing Co. (2013)
Goode's World Atlas, 22nd ed. This is optional, but advised (21st Ed. OK).
Map: U.S. map (11 X 15)
The books and map are available in Aztec Shops.
Please note: you are responsible for following everything in this syllabus as it is your primary
guide to the course requirements. I may not remind you of due dates.
FORMAT: This course is a lecture-based course; you are expected to attend class and participate
in order to derive the greatest benefit from the course. The class meets twice a week.
TERM PROJECT: The Term Project is intended to meet learning outcomes (outcomes described
at end of syllabus) by integrating many of these outcomes within 2 activities during the semester.
A number of activities will be offered, many of them off-campus. You will choose 2 of these and
participate in the activity and write a summary paper for each. Each summary paper will be 2 to 3
pages in length. Specifics will be detailed in your BB. The Term Project is worth a total of 60
points, or 30 points for each activity.
TEXT and ATLAS RESPONSES: Questions regarding text and atlas material will be assigned
and responses due the week following the assignment. Written Responses will be submitted via
BB, and Atlas questions will be turned in on the map. Total of 120 points for text and atlas
EXAMS: Three exams covering lecture material and associated material (videos, films, articles)
will be given throughout the semester. The date for each exam is found below in the schedule.
Each of these three exams will be worth approximately 50 - 60 points, for a total of 150-180
points. Scantron 882 (green) is necessary, with #2 pencil.
CLASS COURTESY and ACADEMIC BEHAVIOR: It is important that courtesy be maintained in
the class. Basic courtesies include: not speaking while the professor or another student is,
remaining in your seat during the entire class period (i.e., taking care of personal business before
and after class, arriving on time and not leaving early), not dominating questions/discussion time,
and turning off cell phones, all electronics (generally, civil, mature and respectable behavior). Of
course, cheating and plagiarism are not tolerated – complete course failure or failure of an
assignment would ensue if either occurred. See Academic Integrity below. Your attendance in this
class confirms your commitment to upholding these basic courtesies and behaviors.
ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION: Your participation, demonstrated by attendance,
courtesy, discussion and/or questions, will help you achieve the greatest benefit from the class. I
will take attendance randomly; 20 points of attendance/participation is possible. (You may be
excused from class without point penalty, or leave early or arrive late, if you let me know ahead of
time, or under emergencies).
GRADES: Course grade based on total score. Total score includes text/atlas responses, exams,
papers and attendance. Grading will be based on the following percentages:
A 92% and above; A- 90-91%; B+ 89%; B 82-88%; B- 80-81%; C+ 79%; C 71-78%; C- 69-70%;
D+ 68%; D 60-67%; D- 59%; F 58% and below.
Academic Integrity: The faculty and staff demand the highest levels of academic and professional
integrity in all work at San Diego State University. Plagiarism, cheating on exams, copying another
student’s work, or any other type of academic dishonesty, will be referred directly to the Office of
Student Rights and Responsibilities for disciplinary action. You will receive zero points on the
exam or assignment.
Americans with Disabilities Act (DA) Accommodation:
If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is
your responsibility to contact Student Disability Services at (619) 594-6473. To avoid any delay in
the receipt of your accommodations, you should contact Student Disability Services as soon as
possible. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive, and that accommodations based
upon disability cannot be provided until you have presented your instructor with an
accommodation letter from Student Disability Services. Your cooperation is appreciated.
This syllabus is intended to guide us through the course. However, circumstances can change and so I reserve the
right to change the syllabus/schedule as needed to ensure that we fulfill the objectives of the course. You will
receive full and fair notification regarding any such changes.
Hardwick Chapters;
Readings on BB
Jan. 19
Introduction, Physical
Hardwick (H) 1
See Simple Pl. Tec.
Animations; Earthquakes in
California; Readings 1a –
Jan. 26
Physical – Landforms, Climate,
Vegetation (continued)
Cultural Geography,
Urban settlement, Land use,
Feb. 2
Feb. 9
Feb. 16 Hawaii, as example of all
geographic topics
H 3, 19
See SANDAG’s Smart
Growth Design Guidelines
H 17
Read and watch links on
Responses Ch. 1
and 2 assigned.
Responses Ch. 1
and 2 DUE
Responses Ch. 3,
4, 19 assigned.
Responses Ch. 3,
4, 19 DUE
Feb. 23
Atlantic Northeast
Marine NM and how Atolls
are formed
Read Puritan Influence
Mar. 2
Mar. 9
Great Lakes region
Mar. 16 The South
See U.S. Drought Monitor
See Nat’l Organic
H 9,10
Mar. 23 Great Plains
H 11
Mar. 30
Apr. 6
Rocky Mountains/Intermontane
Apr. 13
Apr. 20
California, Pacific Northwest
Apr. 27
Feb. 24
From Intro. through
Responses Ch. 17,
5, 7 assigned.
Responses Ch. 17,
5, 7 DUE
Responses Ch. 8,
9, 10 assigned.
Responses Ch. 8,
9, 10 DUE
March 26
Hawaii through the
Nothing!!! 
H 12,13
Read NYT Colorado R.
H 14
Watch film, Bringing Back
the Delta
H 15
California Forever (film)
Responses 12, 13,
14 assigned.
Pacific Northwest
H 16
May 4
H 18
May 7
(May 7 last day of SDSU
Responses 15, 16,
18 assigned
Responses 15, 16,
18 DUE
May 7
Great Plains
through Alaska
Responses 12, 13,
14 DUE
Physical Geography: Be able to
 Describe each of the tectonic process as they relate to landforms in the U.S. Know the major U.S.
landforms, and major rock types.
 Describe erosional forces as they relate to these landforms. Know each of the erosional agents.
 Explain influences on climate in the U.S. Include: topography, ocean currents, latitude, air masses
and their movement.
 Identify the major climate types in the U.S.
 Locate generally the major vegetation zones in the U.S.
Cultural Geography through Sustainability:
 Identify sequence and location of settlement of major European groups, and Culture Hearths that
 Identify the major land acquisitions that shaped the U.S. as we know it today.
 Describe the major land divisions, surveys that shaped land use patterns today: Township and
Range, Metes and Bounds
 Explain government policies and events that helped to move population westward, and eventually
from rural to urban landscapes
 Identify factors that shape demographics: Growth rate, rate of natural increase, fertility rate,
migration patterns (site and situation and amenity areas)
 Describe Demographic Transition, and corresponding economic stages
 Explain the concept of sustainability and apply it to real world examples in the U.S.
Hawaii through Megalopolis:
 Identify the tectonic process, erosional processes, prevailing winds, and climate characteristics of
the Hawaiian Islands
 Describe the demographics, major economies and relevant environmental issues found in the
 Explain the significance of the Farm Village and the Puritan settlement of the Northeast in shaping
city structure and American thought and patterns.
 Identify the major economies of the Northeast and Megalopolis, and the reasons for the vast
differences between the two regions.
 Describe the physical geography of the Northeast and Megalopolis (climate, vegetation,
 Articulate the significance of the literary movement of the 1700 and 1800s in shaping our current
views on land use (especially protection of open space/wilderness).
Great Lakes through Great Plains:
 Describe the landform regions, climate and natural vegetation for these regions. Know with
greater specificity the challenges of New Orleans with its coastal plain location, elevation and
rising sea levels.
 Explain the differences between chemical agriculture and organic agriculture, and the reasons
for the recent trends toward urban and organic agriculture.
 Articulate the economic changes in these regions, integrating what you learned about economic
stages and migration patterns in Module 2.
 Explain the cultural significance of these regions, including the isolation factor of the
Appalachian Mountains, and the cultural heritage and southern identity of the rest of the south.
 Describe what an aquifer is, the extent and dynamics of the Ogallala, and the importance of the
balance between extraction and recharge.
 Know the importance of the Homestead Act, and other government policies in opening up the
Western U.S.
Rocky Mountains through Southwest:
 Identify the major U.S. federal agencies that manage public lands in the U.S., and their primary
 Explain the types of demand, the supply, and the policies that direct the distribution of the
Colorado River.
 Identify the major economies and settlement patterns, both historic and present, of these
 Describe the energy industries that are developed in these regions.
Articulate the changing Borderlands cultural and economic landscape.
California through Alaska:
 Describe the diversity in cultures, defining cultural characteristics, economies that developed
and now support these regions, and the physical landscapes of California, and the Pacific
 Describe the issues of water supply in California, versus the demand
 Explain how California led the nation in land protection/preservation/conservation
 Explain what led to diminishing timber industry production in the Pacific Northwest; and, the
growing tertiary and quaternary industries of Portland and Seattle.
 Identify the top economies of Alaska and issues with extraction of fossil fuels on the North
 Know the policies that were instrumental in distribution of lands for public use and for Native
retention in Alaska.