The Geographer's Craft, GRG 859A and GRG 859B

Kenneth Foote, Instructor

Office Hours: 10-11 MWF in GRG 302, E-mail:

Keene Haywood and Donald Huebner, Teaching Assistants

E-mail: and
Office Hours: TBA

General Information

The Geographer's Craft is a new course being developed to provide you with the best possible introduction to modern geographical research techniques. It takes a new, integrated approach to training in geographical techniques, an approach based on a problem-oriented synthesis of methods drawn from cartography, geographical information systems, spatial analysis, remote sensing, and field methods. Rather than teaching these methods as separate and independent techniques, The Geographer's Craft is designed to show how geographers employ these techniques together, in concert and as needed, to address real-world research issues.

The Geographer's Craft project is designed as a two-semester, eight-credit course (Geography 859A and 859B). Each semester, 2-3 research problems will be presented in class. Each of these will emphasize the range and types of problems geographers address, relevant literatures, and traditional and contemporary approaches to particular issues, including the latest techniques in automated mapping and geographic information systems. The issues are selected so that they raise a variety of technical and methodological problems that can be discussed and solved in the context of interesting, real-life research problems. In this way, you will learn by experience how geographers gather and weigh evidence about natural and human processes, employ maps and databases to represent and model real-life situations, analyze spatial, temporal, and functional relationships, and communicate findings cartographically and graphically and in written and spoken presentations. Stress is placed on analytical reasoning and how such reasoning is supported by the use of computers and information technology.

The course materials for The Geographer's Craft are being developed into hypermedia format as an on-line "electronic" textbook in the Worldwide Web. Although this work is not yet complete, you will receive many of your course materials through the Web. The course does not assume previous experience with GIS technologies or the Internet, but experience with Windows is a prerequisite. The course is built around lectures, discussion and, of course, hands-on laboratory experience. The research problems will make use of many popular mapping, statistical, image processing, and GIS systems on several different types of computer. Use of this variety of systems will allow you to gain the methodological and technical versatility and adaptability that will be of value to you in your future professional work.

Preliminary Schedule


Your course grade will be based on three research projects (each 25% of your final grade) and a set of approximately five warm-up exercises and quizes (25% total or about 5% per exercise). The projects are 1) a campaign strategy report for the next Texas governor's race; 2) a cartographic study of cholera in Peru; 3) a Web page on a current geographical issue.

Team and Lab Meetings

The class will be divided into teams to work on exercises and prepare material for class. Each team will meet with a teaching assistant for at least an hour every week. Team membership and schedules for meetings will be established during the first week of class.

Required Textbooks

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M Williams. 1995. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Some additional readings will be made available at PCL reserve.

Recommended Textbooks (Optional)

Antenucci, John C; Kay Brown; Peter L. Croswell; Michael J. Kevany; and Hugh N. Archer. 1991. Geographic Information Systems: A Guide to the Technology. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Monmonier, Mark. 1993. Mapping It Out: Expository Cartography for the Humanties and Social Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

You may like to purchase a guide to HTML and Web publishing.

Required Supplies

During the course of the semester you will need to purchase $20-30 in computer supplies for the laboratory exercises. You will need to buy at least one box (10) of 3.5" high-density (1.44MB) diskettes. These need to be purchased immediately for use in the second week of class. You will also share the cost of ink cartridges for the Hewlett-Packard inkjet printers, but these do not need to be purchased immediately.

Individually Funded Computer Accounts

You should establish an Individually Funded computer account with the Computation Center so that you can print documents from the Student Microcomputer Facility at FAC and from other locations on campus and pay for Telesys service if you will be using the Web from home.

Electronic Mail Addresses

You will be assigned an account on the Laboratory's Windows NT network during the second week of class. You should also establish electronic "mailbox" for yourself through the University's free University Mailbox Service (UMBS). You can register your e-mail address from any computer in the lab. Please be sure to memorize your e-mail address and password.

Laboratory Use

The course requires you to spend time working in the department's computer lab (room 302). These are open weekdays from 8:15 AM to 9:00 PM (MTWTh), 8:15-4:45 (F), 9:00-5:00 (Saturdays), except when other classes and seminars are using the lab. (Evening and weekend hours begin during the second week of class.) You should plan to spend at least 4-5 hours in the laboratory every week, sometimes more. If your other work and study commitments prevent this, you may wish to reconsider enrolling in this course. Please study the guidelines for using the computer laboratory which is available on-line. A copy of these guidelines is posted in room 302. These rules will be enforced strictly during the semester and their violation will result in loss of laboratory privileges.

Last revised 27 August 1996. KEF.