GEOG/LAST 357.01    Lands and Peoples of Latin America 


Men are so inclined to content themselves with what is commonest; the spirit and the senses so easily grow dead to the impressions of the beautiful and perfect, that every one should study, by all methods, to nourish in his mind the faculty of feeling these things. ...For this reason, one ought every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Bk. v, ch. 1 (Carlyle, tr.) [source: Stevenson]

Spring 2019                                                                       Dr. Scott Brady

MWF: 1-1:50                                                             Office: 523 Butte Hall

Location: Butte 103                                                  Phone: 898-5588

Office Hours: MWF: 9-9:45, 11-11:45 and 1-1:45


Accessibility Resource Center:

If you have a documented disability that may require reasonable accommodations, please contact me privately to discuss your specific needs and also contact Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) for coordination of your academic accommodations. ARC is located across from the Meriam Library in the Student Services Center building (Student Services Center 170; 898-5959;


Study of the physical environment, human settlement, development, and modern problems of the nations of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. This course is designed to be a component of the Upper-Division Theme on Mexico and Central America. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved Global Cultures course. This course is the same as LAST 357.

How the course fits the Global Development Pathway: This course presents fundamental geographic concepts in the context of Latin America.  Initial emphasis is placed on the regionÕs physical environments and its diverse peoples.  Students then explore the relationships that have emerged between Latin AmericaÕs peoples and environments.  The course concludes by considering different paths to socio-economic development that have been pursued in the region.  The course supports the pathwayÕs emphasis on development. The course has been proposed for the Global Cultures designation.

Course Student Learning Objectives  Associated GE Student Learning Objectives

¥       Students can formulate, investigate and answer geographic research questions.

¥       Written Communication

¥       Active Inquiry

¥       Students can understand how natural resources and the physical environment influence land and life in Latin America.

¥       Sustainability

¥       Students can analyze information from different physical or social sciences from a geographic perspective.

¥       Active Inquiry


How Course will Meet GE SLOs: This course will meet three GE SLOs, as noted in the table above. Written communication and Active Inquiry will be met by the research assignment. The course will study sustainability as a concept and challenge for Latin American peoples as they interact with its diverse physical environments. Students will further practice active inquiry in weekly question sets that focus critically on the assigned readings.  Student learning of sustainability and practice of active inquiry will be assessed by means of quizzes and exams that will include short essay questions.

How Course will Assess GE SLOs: Assessment of GE SLOs is based on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, the gold standard in the assessment of value-added learning. Instructors of GEOG 357 utilize pre- and post-tests to effectively measure learning.  The test consists of open-ended questions related to sustainability. The same test will be administered twice during the semester: once during the first week and once during the final week of classes. Comparison of pre- and post-tests scores will indicate the level of student learning.

Course Objectives:

¥       To increase students understanding of the geographical context of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

¥       To develop students' knowledge of the region's connections to, and interdependencies with, other people and places around the world.

¥       To develop students' skills in synthesizing and analyzing information, including Internet-based information.

¥       To develop students' skills in writing and discussing their ideas.

¥       To help students read, listen, observe, and reason critically.


Required Materials:

Online readings.  Readings will be found online.



Academic Policies and Regulations:


Final grades are based on % of ~375 or 425 total points, earned from the categories below. 


A=92-100%; B= 80-91%; C=68-79%; D=50-67%; and F= less than 50%. 


Exam 1

50 points

Exam 2

50 points

Final Exam

100 points

  Quizzes ~10 X 5

  50 points

 Question sets ~17 X 5

 85 points

 Annotated Bibliography

 50 points


 385 points


If you choose not to complete the research project, your grade will be based on the work shown below.


Exam 1

50 points

Exam 2

50 points

Final Exam

100 points

  Quizzes ~10 X 5

  50 points

 Question sets ~17 X 5

 85 points


 335 points



Course website: I regularly update the course website. Students must frequently visit the site to be aware of changes and additions. I do not use Bb.

Attendance: There is a strong correlation between attendance and performance. Students who rarely miss a class and actively participate in classroom discussions tend to perform well on tests, quizzes, and in class discussions; students who donÕt tend to perform poorly. I strongly encourage you to attend every class meeting.

Make-up Exams: No make-up exams will be given. If a student misses exam 1 or 2 with an appropriate excuse, then the make-up will be the comprehensive final exam, which will then be counted as 150 points. Only one exam can be made up in this fashion. If a student misses a second exam that exam will be recorded as a 0.

Quizzes: Approximately 10 quizzes will be given throughout the semester. They will always occur on Fridays and will be announced on the preceding Monday. There will be no make-up quizzes. Quizzes will cover material from lecture material.

Optional Research Project: The research project is an annotated bibliography of at least 1500 words. It has two parts: a proposal and the final project. The instructions for the proposal are at this link. The instructions for the final project are at this link. Here's a past example of an annotated bibliography: link.

Question Sets: To ensure that students keep up with the assigned readings, students must complete question sets that guide them through assigned readings. Students must submit handwritten answers to these questions. Question sets and due dates are posted on the course website. I will not accept question sets after the due date.

Readings and Participation: A fundamental element of a liberal education is the development of the ability to read critically. Hence, your success in this course largely depends on the amount of time and effort you devote to the assigned readings. To encourage your progress in this matter, I will grade students on the notes that they take on the assigned readings.  I will also assign particular students to lead discussions on the required readings.  Students will be graded on their performance.  In addition, test questions will not only be drawn from lecture materials.  Rather, a certain number of test questions will pertain to information found in the assigned readings.

Phones, tablets and laptops: I prefer that students not use laptops in class. Students should use laptops or tablets to work on most course material. Maps on phones are too small and undermine student learning.

Email: I do not text students. However, I regularly send students emails with changes in assignments or alerts about extra point opportunities. Students should check their campus email accounts every day.


Tentative Schedule:

Week 1: 1/22 – 1/26



Week 2: 1/28 – 2/2

Week 3: 2/5 – 2/9

Week 4: 2/12 – 2/16

Week 5: 2/19 – 9/23

Week 6: 2/26 – 3/2

Week 7: 3/5 – 3/9

Week 8: 3/12 – 3/16

Week 9: 3/19 – 3/23

Spring Break

Week 10: 3/26 – 3/30

Friday, March 30, Cesar Chavez Day

Week 11: 4/2 – 4/6

Week 12: 4/9 – 4/13

Week 13: 4/16-4/20

Week 14: 4/23 – 4/27

Week 15: 4/30 – 5/4

Week 16: 5/7 – 5/11

         Preparation Week

Week 17: 5/12 – 5/18

         Final Exam Week