Journal of Geography in Higher Education - Volume 30 Number 3 2006

Revitalizing Economic Geography through Teaching Excellence: Some Pedagogic Reflections

Neil M. Coe, Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, UK
Henry Wai-Chung Yeung, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore

ABSTRACT In this position paper, the authors outline some of the pressing trends in the recent development of economic geography as a sub-discipline in human geography. In particular, they note the lack of critical discussion of important pedagogical issues in teaching what might be termed ‘new economic geographies’, and particularly those associated with the ‘cultural turn’. In doing so, the most challenging politics and practices of teaching economic geography are introduced. Drawing on the various contributions to this symposium, five areas for pedagogical developments and cross-fertilization are outlined.

KEYWORDS Economic geography, pedagogy, cultural turn, plurality, politics and practice

Situating economic geographical teachingy

Trevor J. Barnes, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada

ABSTRACT This article makes an argument for an economic geographical pedagogy that is post-disciplinary, emphasizing non-hierarchical, student-based knowledge, disciplinary interconnectedness, epistemological plurality, and material embodiedness and embeddedness. Key to this conception of economic geographical pedagogy are recent writings of Timothy Mitchell and especially Donna Haraway. The paper discusses several projects and exercises employed by the author in an economic geography course to exemplify, and to persuade students of the merits of, a post-disciplinary approach to the subject.

KEYWORDS Post-disciplinary, student knowledge, plurality, embodiedness

Priorities in Teaching Economic Geography: Placing the Economy, Sense of Geographies, Intellectual Bridging

Nancy Ettlinger, Department of Geography, Ohio State University, USA

ABSTRACT This paper identifies some personal priorities in teaching economic geography. The author places the economy relationally regarding social, cultural and political dimensions of life; she clarifies different modes of geographic inquiry-geographies; and she taps the breadth of economic geography by including a wide range of substantive topics. She discusses internal differentiation regarding substantive topics and modes of geographic inquiry as an asset, offering ground for cross-fertilization of ideas. The course is demanding, and this is appreciated by most, but not all, students. From the author's vantage point, the course both informs and is informed by her research-stimulating experience.

KEYWORDS Relational, non-essentialism, geographies, diversity, complementarity

Surviving the First Time Through: A New Instructor's Views on Designing and Teaching Economic Geography and how Mentoring Early-Career Faculty Can Help

Christine L. Jocoy, Department of Geography, California State University, Long Beach, USA

ABSTRACT This article presents the reflections of a new instructor of economic geography in the USA. The author offers practical advice for designing and delivering a course for the first time. Suggestions are given in support of the view that sharing knowledge of effective teaching practices is an important component of mentoring early-career faculty. By producing and publishing practical examples of teaching materials, experienced faculty may assist novice instructors in balancing time spent on teaching and research. The author encourages economic geographers to contribute to the health of the sub-discipline by supporting new faculty in this manner.

KEYWORDS Economic geography, course design, teaching, mentoring, early-career faculty

Teaching (Political) Economic Geography: Some Personal Reflections

Richard Walker, Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, USA

ABSTRACT Teaching economic geography is not a matter of replicating textbook models. It requires engagement with the ever-changing global economy, which often puts the lie to existing theory. It demands that the teacher break down the economy into its major parts, in a way that students can grasp. This does not mean abandoning theory; on the contrary, it means getting beyond static exchange models to grasp the dynamics of commodity systems, divisions of labour, technology and capital flows. To this, add how geography matters to the way economies work. And always maintain a critical stance toward the world and toward received wisdom.

KEYWORDS Economic geography, political economy, pedagogy, place, labour, commodity chains

Representing the Economic Geographies of ‘Others’: Reconsidering the Global South

James T. Murphy, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, USA

ABSTRACT This essay examines how undergraduate economic geography courses in Anglo-American institutions traditionally frame economic activities in developing regions and asserts that mainstream approaches have devalued the complexity and diversity of economic geographies in the Global South. Focusing on developmentalism as a commonly used heuristic frame, it is argued that teachers and textbooks may provide only a partial representation of economic activities in the developing world and that this can lead to the marginalization of the Global South as a context for economic geography study and research. The essay concludes with ideas about how teachers might subvert these tendencies.

KEYWORDS Representation, developing regions, developmentalism, economic geography

Teaching Economic Geography in Two Contrasting Asian Contexts: Decentering Anglo-American Economic Geography in China and Singapore

Henry Wai-Chung Yeung, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Weidong Liu, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, PR China

ABSTRACT Teaching economic geography outside Anglo-American countries presents a particular pedagogical challenge, as theories and concepts developed in these countries might not be directly applicable outside their intellectual and national contexts. In this paper, the authors show how the peculiar institutional and development environments in China and Singapore have shaped the ways in which the economic geography curriculum is developed and taught in institutions of higher education. They also examine how students respond to the intellectual challenges presented to them. In their view, successful pedagogy in teaching economic geography requires a significant degree of localization of the curriculum.

KEYWORDS Anglo-American economic geography, China, Singapore, institutional contexts, localization

Engaging with Economic Geography in the ‘Real’ World: A Central Role for Field Teaching

Andrew Jones, School of Geography, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

ABSTRACT Debates concerning how to engage students with economic geography have ignored the important role of field teaching. This paper argues that fieldwork must remain a key component of economic geographical teaching and that it offers a variety of advantages to overcoming student disinterest in the sub-discipline. It goes on to argue that field teaching must be developed, not neglected, in economic geography and illustrates its pedagogical advantages with reference to the example of a field class in north-east England.

KEYWORDS Economic geography, field teaching, student engagement, north-east England

A Practical Guide to Focus-Group Research

Rosanna L. Breen, Faculty of Education, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

ABSTRACT This article guides readers through the decisions and considerations involved in conducting focus-group research investigations into students' learning experiences. One previously published focus-group study is used as an illustrative example, along with other examples from the field of pedagogic research in geography higher education. An approach to deciding whether to use focus groups is suggested, which includes a consideration of when focus groups are preferred over one-to-one interviews. Guidelines for setting up and designing focus-group studies are outlined, ethical issues are highlighted, the purpose of a pilot study is reviewed, and common focus-group analysis and reporting styles are outlined.

KEYWORDS Focus-group methodology, interviews, students, research methods, student experience

The Geography Discipline Network would also like to thank Taylor & Francis Ltd for permission to reproduce abstracts from the Journal of Geography in Higher Education

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