Geography Essays and Research Papers

Instructions for Geography College Essay Examples

Title: human geography

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Essay Instructions: Geography 171: Human Geographies, Spring 2010: Written Assignment #1

How Global is Your Wardrobe?

This exercise asks you to consider, as Knox and Marston put it, “geographical interdependence from the point of view of your own life” (Knox and Marston, p. 39). What we would like you to do is to:

1) Take an inventory of your clothing, noting where possible from the tags sewn inside them, the geographical location in which each garment was manufactured (the country). Make a tally by country. This is your basic data.
2) Then, based on the countries that are included in your inventory, find (or construct!) an appropriate base map on which you can record this information.
3) Record the information on the map! You can use whatever symbolization scheme you’d like: isoline, choropleth, dot distribution (but this one is only good if you have hundreds upon hundreds of mappable items in your wardrobe!), proportional symbols, located charts, or cartograms (see pages 475-484 of your textbook for ideas). Make sure that your map has a legend that explains any numerical (or clothing type) classification scheme that you create to divide and represent your data.
4) Get ready to write! Your write-up should be 5 double-spaced typed pages (using 12 point font with one inch margins all around) and consist of the following:

A. An introduction . . . where you briefly explain what the assignment is about and why the issue of where your clothing was made is important to understanding “geographical interdependence.”
B. A paragraph that lays out the trajectory of your write-up, so the reader will know what to expect.
C. A paragraph that explains your methodology . . . how you collected the data, mapped it, and then analyzed it.
D. A four-paragraph DESCRIPTION of the map pattern.
a. Note places of high value, low value (the range of the data)
b. Associations (regional groupings)
c. Trends (increases from lows to highs as you move across the map)
d. Exceptions (“sore thumbs”) and Discontinuities (things that mess up what otherwise is a nice pattern)
E. A LIST of the major factors that you think influence the pattern (see pages 280-281 of your textbook for ideas.)
F. An EXPLANATION of the map pattern that links the factors from 4.E to the parts of the pattern that you described as part of 4.D
G. A speculative discussion regarding how those garments might have gotten to you.
a. To answer this: think about where you bought the garments. Was the store part of a regional, national or international chain? What can you learn (this requires some research!) about their supply and distribution network? Are there certain source regions that certain kinds of stores seem to prefer? Why might that be the case?
H. Conclusion??"what’s the major thing(s) that you learned about your “embedded-ness” within a larger geography of the garment industry?
I. Bibliography??"make absolutely certain that you list where you found information about garment supply and distribution (including your textbook.) We need to know what influenced your ideas. In scholarly circles, researchers often use the bibliographies included with the things they read not only to check to see if the author was telling the truth, but also to help them establish what “the literature” is for a given topic. Here’s the basic format you should use for books, articles and websites.

Author (date) Title (publisher’s location: publisher), page numbers

Author (date) “Title,” Journal/Magazine/Newspaper Name, Volume # (Issue #): page numbers

Website heading name, full URL, date accessed.

Also, if you use ANY text verbatim from another source you MUST put that text within quotes and use some sort of referencing system (numerical footnotes, endnotes; parenthetic citations) that says precisely where the quote came from. You must also do the same thing with any paraphrasing(rewording) that you do! Trying to pass off the work of others as your own is not only sloppy, its academically dishonest and “illegal” within a scholarly/university environment! We will be on the lookout for offenses! We don’t particularly care which form of referencing that you use (within Microsoft Word, endnoting and footnoting are probably the easiest), just as long as you choose one and stick with it throughout the paper. For help on this issue, see: and

NOTE: The bibliography and citations do NOT count toward the five page limit!!!!!! (We actually think you’re going to have the opposite problem??"that is, keeping your writing under control enough to stay within the five pages. Your writing is going to have to be direct and TIGHT!

5) Make a cover sheet that has your name, section number, date, your TA’s name, and a TITLE for your write-up. Make sure to save EVERYTHING on your computer/thumbdrive. Print a hard copy of all and attach them together (don’t forget your map!) WITH A STAPLE (no paper clips, no plastic binders, please!)!!!!!!
6) Turn the hard copy of your assignment in to your TA at the beginning of section next week (January 28th/29th). Papers turned in during or after section will be counted as late!

Grades will be based on:

1. Execution (20%)
a. Is the paper formatted properly?
b. Does it have an introduction, a conclusion, and a trajectory statement that sets up the structure of the paper?
c. Is methodology discussed?
d. Is there a LEGIBLE map?
e. Are citations/references and the bibliography present and complete?
f. Is the paper free from typographical and grammatical errors?
g. ANY EVIDENCE of PLAGIARISM? (If yes, the paper will earn an automatic “F” and a formal warning of misconduct from the professor. [Second offense: the TA and the professor will make a formal report to the dean’s office in the College of Arts and Sciences as well as a recommendation regarding further action by the A&S Committee on Student Standards.]
2. Substance (80%)
a. Does the paper explain what “geographical interdependence is?”
b. Does the paper adequately describe the map pattern (does it account for the various parts of the pattern)?
c. Does the paper present a plausible list of factors that can be used to explain the map pattern?
d. Does the paper adequately link the factors to the map pattern during the explanation of the map pattern? Are the linkages believable?
e. Does the paper present plausible speculation as to how the author sees their wardrobe fitting into a larger geography of garment production, distribution and retailing?
f. Does the conclusion highlight the most important points that were made during the paper and are those conclusions plausible based on the evidence presented in the paper?
g. Has the author shown ingenuity and creativity in mapping and discussing the “geographical meaning” of their wardrobe?
h. Does the paper show creativity and is it enjoyable to read?

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Title: human geography

  • Total Pages: 7
  • Words: 2148
  • Bibliography:1
  • Citation Style: None
  • Document Type: Research Paper
Essay Instructions: Geography 171: TERM PROJECT (SPRING 2010)??"“Creative Destruction in the Wake of Urbanization”

Worth 20% of the course grade.
Due April 8th/9th in your discussion section (or before that??"please make arrangements with your teaching assistant.)

This project will require you to think like an urban geographer. Your job is to produce 7 type-written pages that will consist (in part) of some original research (some more investigative reporting and analysis!) on an American city of your choice. The Five Boroughs of New York City, however, are off limits. New York City-area municipalities, like Newark, New Rochelle, Levittown, or the Oranges, however, are perfectly okay to study.

Between the late 1970s and 1990s an incredible gale of creative destruction transformed North American cities ‘up’ and ‘down’ the urban hierarchy. Fifty years of egalitarian state intervention (in existence from the 1910s onward) had created a policy regime that regulated and taxed businesses as well as the upper and middle classes so as to provide a social ‘safety net’ and other public infrastructures that would enhance social reproduction. Gradually, however, capitalists, politicians, and an ever-increasing proportion of the electorate came to believe that such heavy state intervention was stifling innovation and burdening families through taxation. They began clamoring for the restructuring and dismantling of government programs, many of which specifically provided financial assistance to urban municipalities and residents. In response, many cities had to cut back on social services and infrastructure maintenance (becoming less “managerial” in the process) and started to instituted economic development programs that would try to attract new investors and tourists as a way to pick up the slack (hence becoming more “entrepreneurial.”) Many cities thus experienced erosions in public services for people who were poor, elderly, homeless, or living with temporary or permanent disabilities and a concomitant explosion of privately funded charitable organizations and other not-for-profit groups intended to help those same populations. At the same time, however, city governments and business organizations launched massive public relations campaigns intended to create for their towns the image that they were not only safe but great places for capitalists to invest and the elite to live. They even entered into public-private partnerships that would create new festival marketplaces, convention centers, museums, galleries, aquariums, ballparks and other sports venues and other facilities intended mainly for an upscale clientele. While some cities led the way in pioneering this path toward ‘neoliberalization,’ others struggled to follow suit. By the decade of the 2000s, however, the physical landscape, social structure, and cultural meaning of large cities and small towns all across the country had been irrevocably changed.

For this essay, we would like you to write about some aspect of this story as it is (or hasn’t) played in the city that you choose to study. Since 1970, what has this city (its government, businesses, not-for-profits, and citizens) done to become more entrepreneurial, to foster a better business climate, and to cater to the elite? What changes have been made to the physical environment, to the job market, and to the image of the town/city as a result? Most importantly, have these changes been all for the good? What problems have been created as a result in terms of environmental injustice, employment gaps, and the silencing of dissenting ideas and opinions?

This is actually a very good time to be trying to answer questions like this. The recession has laid bare the pitfalls of neoliberalization because the problems once experienced only by the most disadvantaged members of the population have spread to the middle and upper class through layoffs and business failures. They can no longer be ignored or dismissed as issues that pertain only to certain social or racialized groups. Further, within most cities, city councils and other governmental bodies are arguing over what to do in response to these problems. How can cities be refashioned in more egalitarian ways? Finally, thirty years of elite-oriented investment has left obvious marks on the city. One need only to think about the transformation of New York City’s Time Square and 42nd Street during this period??"from X-rated movie houses, strip clubs, sex shops, and cheap hotels and apartments to family-oriented theatres, restaurants, and high-end retail establishments. Police surveillance and public ordinances have also dislocated the homeless, prostitutes, and panhandlers. And, while this might all be viewed as a good thing, it has only displaced these activities and people to other areas, and has been the opening salvo in the erection of public policy that has since been used to curtail free speech and political demonstrations in places like Central Park and to evict residents from their homes to make way for gentrification.

STEP 1: Pick your city. It can be your hometown, a place you want to move to, a place you’ve visited . . . whatever. The ONLY restriction is that it can’t be New York City and you need to be able to find evidence of neoliberal, creative destructive trends.

STEP 2: Start looking for evidence of the above mentioned trends. Have there been any neighborhoods that have been declared as historic districts? Are they become sites for gentrification? Has the city ‘branded’ certain neighborhoods as ‘improvement districts’ or as special areas like ‘Little Italy’? Has the city partnered with banks or other major corporations to create a new stadium? Have major improvement been undertaken to ‘restore’ urban parks or historic architecture? Has the city condemned old warehouses or docks along the waterfront, cleared them out, and created tourist and festival-oriented waterfront parks and shopping districts? Have homeless and mentally ill people seemed to disappear? Have building-mounted security cameras seem to have sprouted everywhere?

STEP 3: Pick a development (a project, a trend) from STEP 2. Think about the ways in which it might have been good for a city. See if you can find data that argues for the positive externalities it is supposed to have generated, e.g. tax revenue available for the city to spend on other projects. But, look also for evidence of negative externalities??"the problems that such projects/trends can create. This may require you to get away from official websites like those run by the city, a local development corporation, or a business organization and to places like the blogosphere. In fact, a great place to try to find who might be protesting or complaining about such projects is Twitter or by looking at search histories on Google. What is the history of the project/trend? What changes did it cause to the physical environment? How did it get incorporated into images and the ‘branding’ of the city? Why might those changes cause problems?

STEP 4: And this is VERY critical, essential, MANDATORY??"you need to consult the academic literature to see what geographers have written about projects and neoliberal developments like these. To help, we are posting an article on Blackboard: Hamnett, Chris. 2003 “Chapter 31: Urban Forms” in Cloke, P, P. Crang, and M. Goodwin (editors) Introducing Human Geographies (London: Hodder Arnold): 425-438. Not only does Hamnett discuss many aspects of the trend toward neoliberalization, but he does so with a lot of important geographical concepts that we’ve talked about in class and that Marston and Knox explore in your text. Hamnett, however, will not be enough. You need to find and discuss at least one other geography journal article (published after 1995 at least) that helps you understand recent neoliberal and creative destructive trends.

STEP 5: Write an essay about what you’ve learned. As always, it needs to have:

1) An introduction, trajectory statement and conclusion. There NEEDS TO BE AN ARGUMENT!
2) A DESCRIPTION of neoliberal trends as they have/haven’t played out in your town/city
3) An explanation, in LOCAL TERMS, as to why the town/city felt these changes/projects to be necessary. What did it do to promote them? Stop them from happening? You might want to INTERVIEW people in the town/city and incorporate quotes and the information they provide within your paper.
4) An analysis of positive and negative externalities generated by these changes/projects using COURSE and JOURNAL CONCEPTS of YOUR CHOICE
5) References and a bibliography containing as many sources as necessary to make and support a PLAUSIBLE argument. Quantity of citations/references, however, should be no substitute for the QUALITY in terms of the way that you use these sources. We will be grading this section based on whether or not these references are cited in the appropriate places and will be assessing whether or not they help further the argument.
6) MAPS and GRAPHICS: we need to know WHERE these developments have taken place. Moreover, you need to be using the maps as a way to help talk about the positive and negative externalities they might be generating on adjacent neighborhoods or areas. Extra credit (up to 2 points) will be given for maps that YOU create by plotting data, much as you did for Assignment #1.
7) an argument, a logical structure, and must be free of grammatical and typographical errors.
8) STYLE??"is it well written and properly formatted (12 pt. font, one-inch margins?)

Finally, make certain that you do NOT plagiarize from other sources. No direct copying and if you paraphrase the ideas of others, make certain you cite them as sources. Any evidence of plagiarism will be automatic grounds for failure of this assignment??"and given that its worth twenty percent, you can’t afford it!

If you have any problems or questions, please feel free to ask your TA or Dr. Mosher.

Good luck AND TRY TO HAVE FUN WITH IT. You’ve got a lot of latitude with this essay and you should be able to pick cities that interest you and explore problems/issues found in them that intrigue you. The best essays always result when students make choices that reflect things that they care about or are interested in. So, if you are concerned about the environment??"talk about the ways in which creative destruction has impacted the environment. Or if its social injustice, you might talk about infrastructure and accessibility to resources. Or if its culture/nightlife and the lack thereof, you might explore it. Etc, etc, etc, etc. Further, it is perfectly okay to build upon your previous assignments.

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Works Cited:

CDM. (2010) Case studies: An urban renewal beneath the streets of Newark. CDM. Retrieved April 8, 2010 from

Kaye, N. (2004). Urban renewal -- Post-Roth Newark. New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2010 from

Soliman, A. (2010). Lower crime statistics in Newark are reason for hope. North Retrieved April 8, 2010 from

Roney, M. (n.d.). Setting bold new standards. Forbes Custom. Retrieved April 8, 2010 from

US Census Bureau. (2008). American Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 8, 2010 from

Newman, K. & Ashton, P. (2003). Neoliberal urban policy and new paths of neighborhood change in the American inner city. Environment and Planning Vol. 36 (7) 1151-1172.

Ramos-Zayas, A. (2009) Urban erotics and racial affect in a neoliberal "racial democracy": Brazilian and Puerto Rican youth in Newark, New Jersey. Identities. Vol. 16 (5) 513-547.

Hamnett, C. (2003) Urban forms. In possession of the author.

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Title: human geography

  • Total Pages: 5
  • Words: 1680
  • Sources:1
  • Citation Style: APA
  • Document Type: Essay
Essay Instructions: Geography 171: Human Geographies??"Assignment #3, “Toxi-city”(due to your TA BEFORE DISCUSSION SECTION on Thursday/Friday, February 25th/26tht, 2010)

This assignment asks you to address the issue of local (urban) environmental stress and how it might manifest itself geographically and spatially. It asks you to answer the following questions: 1) what is local environmental stress?; 2) why does it occur?; 3) is there a geographical and spatial pattern to it?; 4) what should local communities be doing about it?; and 5) what problems might these communities face as a result?

To answer these questions, as always, you need to do a little background research. First, you’ll need to come up with a definition for what urban environmental stress might be (your textbook gives some hints and there is a lot of material on the web that will be of use: look for official government (federal and local) publications on “urban sustainability.”) Second, you’ll need to discuss how stress might be measured and mapped. Again, your textbook gives hints as to how this might be done in a “rudimentary” fashion on page 171, Unplugged Question #1. Third, you’ll need to do a “quick and dirty” study of a city of your choice [could be your hometown!!], using the methodology that Knox and Marston suggest in Unplugged Question #1. (Suggestion: make a list of environmentally harmful activities??"expanding beyond their list and then PICK a couple of activities to map, using the online Yellow Pages ( This is REALLY easy to do . . . you just search in the town of your choice under business category and then the Yellow Pages has a hyperlink you can use to instantly map the location of all of the businesses in that category!) Fourth, contrast and compare patterns and see if you see any commonalities . . . differences? How might those be explained? To do a good job here, you’ll probably need to consult other online maps, like Mapquest or Google Earth (or maybe even census maps), to see what else is close to the “toxic areas” that you may be discovering. Are there schools or retirement communities or neighborhoods with young kids nearby? If so, what are the implications of the “externality effects” that are being created by the “sources of environmental stress?”) Fifth, is there any evidence that officials in the community have noted these same stressors/patterns and are doing something about them? What problems might they face? What steps are they taking? This is probably going to require you to go onto official local websites (try city, county and state sites.)

Once again, we’re looking for a five-page paper . . . double-spaced, 12 point font, one-inch margins all around (Unless you have decided to exercise Option #2 [see my email message to you from February 9, 2010??"also posted now on Blackboard in the documents section.] If you have chosen this option, then this will be a seven-page paper.). And again, the bibliography, maps/graphics and citations do NOT count toward the five/seven pages. And, as is becoming the expected pattern, your paper is going to need an introduction, a discussion of your methods, a description and explanation of the patterns that you discover, and a final summary of what you’ve learned. And again, the paper will benefit from having an argument that ties everything together. Plus it has got to be well written and free from grammatical and typographical errors.

Please note: there are MANY possible ways that you could go about doing this assignment . . . lots of different angles you could take to the issue, stressors you could study, etc. We’re giving you a lot of free rein here??"much more than we did on the previous assignments. Nevertheless, what we are going to be looking for, first and foremost, are papers that really try to explore the various ways in which environmental problems are made manifest in urban places and that do so in a thoughtful (that means “NOT RUSHED”) way. Above all: USE YOUR CREATIVITY! If you have questions or run into problems, please consult with your teaching assistant.

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Works Cited

Chea, Terrance."Cremation Pollution? Neighbors Nervous " 2007 at: .

Herzog, Beth. "Adult and Childhood Cancer" Oregon Environmental Council 2007 at: .

Knight, William "Air Quality: Burning and Smoke" Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 2007 at: .

University of Florida Environmental Engineering Website: Crematorium Regulations, 2001 at: .

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Title: Human Geography

  • Total Pages: 5
  • Words: 1394
  • References:0
  • Citation Style: MLA
  • Document Type: Research Paper
Essay Instructions: Geography 171: Spring 2010, Written Assignment #4??"“Agglomeration Economies at Home”

In discussion section, lecture and the text, we’ve learned that when considered from a spatial perspective, economic development is??"in part??"a story of “agglomeration.” This is just another word for “clustering.” In order to decrease the cost of transporting resources and goods; ensure that a workforce and consumer market is available; and increase possible production synergies with suppliers, distributors, potential partners, and even competitors; some firms will decide to locate near each other. If these firms operate within the same (or related) industr(ies) and if these firms begin to dominate the local economy, then the result might be local/regional specialization. Moreover, their activities will generate multiplier effects and positive externalities??"such as the need for more infrastructure, population growth, and greater economic opportunity (for some.) These positive externalities are referred to as “agglomeration economies.” If, however, growth is too rapid and outpaces the pace of infrastructural development, if only a few classes of people benefit from all of this activity, and if the economy gets so focused on doing a certain set of things in a certain way, and finds it difficult to diversify or even change, then negative externalities can come into play??"these are the “agglomeration diseconomies” that often become such a hallmark feature of deindustrialization and that fuel “creative destruction.”

For this assignment, your job is to:
A) If you chose option #1 (writing both Assignments #3 and #4), write a five-page, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, 1-inch margins all around, essay. This will be worth 5% of the course grade.
B) If you chose option #3 (writing only Assignment #4), write a seven-page, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, 1-inch margins all around, essay. This will be worth %10 of the course grade.
In both cases, your essay should address the issue of agglomeration in a specialized manufacturing region or office district with which you are familiar??"our suggestion is that you use your hometown (or, the place that you have lived the longest and toward which you feel the strongest affinity.) Here’s the breakdown of tasks:

1. Describe the different kinds of firms that are found in this place. Again, may be of use, but your best bet is first to go on the local official governmental website and see how the government is advertising the community. Look for links that refer to “economic development” and related topics (e.g. “job opportunities.”) Also try to find the local chamber of commerce’s website and see what they have to say. A general Google search using the name of your place and the word “economy” should also return some (if not a lot!) of webpages for you to peruse. Is there one thing that seems to dominate the economy in this place? Or is it more diversified? If it seems diversified, is there still a set of firms that seem to be leading the local economy? Why are they located in this particular spot?
2. What evidence can you provide that these firms are creating (or created at one time) agglomeration economies? In other words, if they are mapped, is there a clustering pattern (you may have to work at multiple spatial scales to actually see this)? And, is there evidence that these firms are somehow functionally linked to one another? What are the advantages that come from them being close together?
3. Is there any evidence of agglomeration diseconomies? (I’ve highlighted this because in the past, students have forgotten to write about this. The point here: to identify the DOWNSIDES to agglomerations, to talk about the PROBLEMS that agglomeration can cause.) Why do you think these negative externalities exist? If there aren’t any diseconomies now, think ahead to the future??"what might happen that could cause this region to begin to unravel economically? Similarly, do you see any evidence of creative destruction taking place now or in the past? Why did this process occur?

As always, please construct your essay in the FORM OF AN ESSAY; that means, making sure that you have an argument that holds the thing together. Introduction, Agenda, Text Body that answers the above questions (description of local economy AND an explanation of it), and Conclusion. Again, bibliography and citations are required and DO NOT COUNT toward the five page limit. Nor do maps and graphics (which are really expected for this assignment??"it’s completely up to you, however, as to what and how you use them!) It should also be well written and creative!

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Works Cited:

Port of Vancouver economic impact study. (2008).

No author. (2010). Port facts. Port Metro Vancouver. Retrieved March 11, 2010 from

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