The course is issues-based rather than being region-based as most geography courses are. I put emphasis on having models to describe and predict geographical events. The students, therefore, must master some difficult concepts, such as the global circulation of the atmosphere, the demographic transition model, and the species-area curve. During the fall semester we study physical systems, resources and economic development, population, and food, farming, and famine. In the spring we cover endangered species, natural hazards, water, and energy.
We start reading Ishmael at the beginning of the spring semester, as a complement to the endangered species unit, though we are halfway through the semester by the time they’ve done all that I assign on the book. I don’t require students to finish reading it, but most of them do. We have class discussions, and they make responses in the journal they keep for the whole course. We’ve watched a video on how zoos help endangered species and students then contrasted that assumption with what Ishmael says about zoos.