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Geography 419: The Professional Geographer

This course is restricted to Geography and to Spatial Data Science & Technology Majors. It is required for Geography majors and strongly encouraged for SDS majors.

This course will be taught synchronously. We will meet at noon each Monday of the term. Class may not extend for the entire 90 minutes we are scheduled for, but be prepared to talk, think, write, draw, and work in small groups while we are on Zoom together.  You can find links to all of the zoom meetings on this page or under the links to Zoom Meetings on the left-toolbar of Canvas. It is important to have TopHat (the platform that hosts your textbook) open as well for attendance and presentation purposes. 

We recognize that this is an unprecedented and bewildering time for everyone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a divisive political climate, and social tensions. We will be as flexible as possible with regard to the challenges you may encounter. This is a very stressful time and many people who have not experienced anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges before are experiencing them now. Recognize your need for mental health breaks. Video chat with family and friends. Veg out to TV. Do what you need to do to stay physically and emotionally healthy. If you experience any emotional, mental, physical, or logistical challenges, please reach out to us for help. We can help or direct you to resources that can offer assistance of various kinds.

 Many of you are still new to or getting used to remote and online courses. This is a huge change. Please do NOT expect your course load to be easier. Instead, online courses attempt to deliver the same content and concepts using different methods of delivery. These are different methods, not necessarily easier ones. Online courses require MUCH more self-motivation from both students and instructors. Try to make yourself a schedule that accommodates your personal circumstances (don’t like to work in the morning, have to take care of children or family, need breaks from a computer, etc.). If you continue to have difficulty, please reach out to me and I can help you develop some ideas of how to approach your online courses.

Instructor:  Dr. Leslie McLees

Instructor email: lmclees@uoregon.edu

Office hours: by appointment. Please email me to set up an appointment. I may establish regular zoom drop-in hours, but my schedule is very dynamic, so I will hold off doing that for now.

Office: Condon 107C. But I won’t be there.

Course Websites: The textbook for this course will be delivered through TopHat.com.  You can purchase the book through TopHat.com/students and use the join code [only available to current students]. You will need to purchase both the book and TopHat classroom.

The textbook will have readings, videos, reflections, and assignment guidelines. We may also use it during our class meetings, so please have it open.

All assignments will be submitted via the assignment portals on canvas.uoregon.edu.

Weekly Zoom meetings are posted in the left toolbar on Canvas.

We recognize that this is an unprecedented and bewildering time for everyone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a divisive political climate, and social tensions. We will be as flexible as possible with regard to the challenges you may encounter. This is a very stressful time and many people who have not experienced anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges before are experiencing them now. Recognize your need for mental health breaks. Video chat with family and friends. Veg out to TV. Do what you need to do to stay physically and emotionally healthy. If you experience any emotional, mental, physical, or logistical challenges, please reach out to us for help. We can help or direct you to resources that can offer assistance of various kinds.

 Many of you are still new to or getting used to remote and online courses. This is a huge change. Please do NOT expect your course load to be easier. Instead, online courses attempt to deliver the same content and concepts using different methods of delivery. These are different methods, not necessarily easier ones. Online courses require MUCH more self-motivation from both students and instructors. Try to make yourself a schedule that accommodates your personal circumstances (don’t like to work in the morning, have to take care of children or family, need breaks from a computer, etc.). If you continue to have difficulty, please reach out to me and I can help you develop some ideas of how to approach your online courses.

Course Description

In a job economy where the current generation of graduates is expected to change jobs every three to four years, students need to learn how to critically reflect on what skills, values, and strengths they have gained through both life and education. Traditionally, higher education has not prioritized communicating to students the valuable skills they gain through their studies, despite the accepted wisdom that you need to go to college to get a good job. This makes students feel uncertain about why they are in college and what they can do after they graduate.

This course is designed to provide Geography and SDS students with resources and opportunities to critically reflect on their individual career development pathways and to describe their accomplishments, interests, values and personal characteristics in professional situations. The course will emphasize the importance of skills students have gained in their classes and how they can translate those skills in professional situations not just now, but repeatedly and their career paths evolve. We will reflect on the critical thinking gained from geography and a liberal arts education more broadly and learn how to articulate the benefits of a geographical approach in different professional settings.

To provide students with the tools to present themselves, their strengths, and the value of a geography degree, students will prepare resumes and cover letters in response to specific job ads they are interested in. They will also conduct informational interviews with people in the field they hope to enter and create online portfolios to demonstrate their skills and a professional profile. All of these activities will build upon each other, requiring continual self-reflection by the students as they learn more about how their skills, values, and interests articulate with different potential career pathways.

Etiquette

This is a professional development course, and as such students are expected to act and be prepared accordingly. Students will be held accountable for the following professional standards:

  • come prepared having done the assigned readings, reflections, and activities;
  • be engaged, share experiences, and address each other respectfully;
  • try to stay focused on the Zoom meeting (no video games or social media on the other screens in front of you!);
  • ask for help after having read the instructions;
  • arrive at the zoom meeting punctually.

Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and critically reflect on the skills, values and interests that students have gained through their life and academic experiences;
  • Articulate the skills and values that they have, and how those translate into career options;
  • Understand how a geographical approach and education enhances their potential career pathways and their ability to engage in the world as a global citizen;
  • Connect skills to long-term personal and professional goals and develop a pathway of steps necessary to reach those goals;
  • Understand how to see themselves outside the structure of college requirements, beginning to independently make decisions about career pathways;
  • Identify and prioritize what is important in their personal and professional goals so that when life circumstances change, they are better able to adapt.
  • Create an online portfolio that moves students beyond courses and articulates them as a geographer
  • Create a Career Action Plan that can be utilized repeatedly throughout the student’s career

Estimated Student Workload

Students will be expected to spend a significant amount of time outside the classroom engaged in work for the course. There are reading assignments throughout the term, as well as several projects dedicated to walking students through the process of career development. Just like any class, but maybe more obviously so, the time you take in this class will be reflected in your preparedness after you finish. Take advantage of this class. You will not likely get these kinds of spaces and time to reflect again!

Please check your uoregon email at least once a day (which you should be doing anyway). Our class only meets once a week and sometimes I need to send last-minute changes, events, or clarifications out to you. If you submit something incorrectly because you did not read your emails, you will not be excused.

I will always send Canvas messages to your email directly, but in case I forgot to check the box, you can ensure that any email sent through canvas shows up in your inbox. To do this, click on the Account link (the one with your profile pic in the upper left-hand corner of his screen). Click on Notifications in the pop-up. Scroll down to conversations and click on the checkmarks in the three boxes.

Awesome possum.

How grades will be determined

Assessment type  % grade Description
Attendance & participation 15% Coming to class and engaging in discussion
Participating in TopHat 15% Respond to discussions thoughtfully
Finding Five Jobs 10% Summary of 5 jobs and the jobs ads
Informational interview write-up 15% Reflection on Informational Interview
Draft Job Application 5% Draft resume and cover letter
Final job application 10% Final resume and cover letter
Online Portfolio Proposal

Online portfolio

5%

15%

Online resource for employers and students
Career Action Plan 10% Summary of the course and your next steps
TOTAL 100%  

 

A note on readings

Each chapter has several response questions embedded within them. You must answer these questions in the weeks that the chapters are assigned. You will be graded both on whether you participated AND whether you took the question seriously and answered it. If you can see your classmates’ responses, you are welcome to read their answers as well. I hope that you will benefit from the various experiences and perspectives in this class.

Material for the following week will be made available on Monday at 2pm after class and due the following Monday at noon. What is due are your responses to the question embedded within the TopHat text.

And a disclaimer: I wrote this book. It isn’t finished. I wrote it to make delivering material more cohesive than having you read bits from several different books. The platform TopHat doesn’t provide any editing, so yes, there are typos, but I work to catch them. If you find errors, please let me know via email and I can fix them. I appreciate your patience on this!

A note on assignments

This course is about professional development. Like any class, make sure you follow the guidelines and hand in professional quality material. As such;

  • Marginal work will earn a marginal grade;
  • Any assignment that is late will receive 10% off for each day it is late;
  • There is no opportunity for extra credit in this class.

Academic Integrity Code

Academic Misconduct: The University Student Conduct Code (available at conduct.uoregon.edu) defines academic misconduct. Students are prohibited from committing or attempting to commit any act that constitutes academic misconduct. By way of example, students should not give or receive (or attempt to give or receive) unauthorized help on assignments or examinations without express permission from the instructor. Students should properly acknowledge and document all sources of information (e.g. quotations, paraphrases, ideas) and use only the sources and resources authorized by the instructor. If there is any question about whether an act constitutes academic misconduct, it is the students’ obligation to clarify the question with the instructor before committing or attempting to commit the act. Additional information about a common form of academic misconduct, plagiarism, is available at https://researchguides.uoregon.edu/citing-plagiarism.

If you are found to have plagiarized (copied) off a classmate or from other materials for a test or an assignment of any sort, your first warning will be a zero on the assignment. Your second incident will result in an F in the course.

Disability Statement

The University of Oregon is working to create inclusive learning environments.  Please notify me at the beginning of the term if there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in disability-related barriers to your participation. You are also encouraged to contact the Accessible Education Center (formerly Disability Services) in 164 Oregon Hall at 541-346-1155 or uoaec@uoregon.edu .

Attendance Policy

Class attendance is an important part of a student’s educational experience. Students are expected to attend every meeting of their classes and are responsible for class attendance. Regardless of what reasons there may be for absence, students are accountable for all academic activities, and I reserve the right to require special work or tests to make up for the missed class or classes.

Privacy Policy

Part of this class requires a public, online portfolio. Each student must sign a FERPA Consent for Disclosure of Education Record: Course Blog and Social Media Participation form by Week 3. This form will indicate the level of privacy that the student wishes to keep as students create professional development materials, some of which could be public-facing. Please feel free to discuss with me any issues you may have and we can accommodate you. If for any reason you are uncomfortable putting information about yourself online, you can choose to create a paper portfolio and receive the same assessment of materials. This course also discusses the online presence and suggests that students take steps to create an effective and professional online profile. Students are strongly discouraged from posting telephone numbers and addresses in any material that appears online. Students can choose to not post these materials or anything else they are uncomfortable with, on the Internet. Further, students may choose not to put personal information on resumes and cover letters that they hand in for the assessment.