World Regional Geography
Caitlin Finlayson, University of Mary Washington
Pub Date: 2016
Conditions of Use
The text presents a solid foundation suitable for introductory Geography courses. Unfortunately it does not provide an index, but it does include a useful glossary. read more
The text presents a solid foundation suitable for introductory Geography courses. Unfortunately it does not provide an index, but it does include a useful glossary.
The book's content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.
While updating any maps will have to be attended to as states change, they are currently accurate, with, for example, South Sudan shown appropriately.
The book is written is a lucid style, providing adequate context for any specialized terms used. It avoids getting into terminology more appropriate for upper division geography courses. For instance, it mentions and defines geomorphology, but not aeolian geomorphogy.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
The author uses a, "thematic approach... Instead of repeating the same several themes each chapter, this text emphasizes depth over breadth by arranging each chapter around a central theme and then exploring that theme in detail as it applies to the particular region." That is fine, but would seem to make stand alone chapters difficult. As noted, "In a traditional World Regional Geography textbook, chapters are arranged around the various regions of the world with each chapter focusing on the geographic features of the particular region." The are pros and cons with either approach, but the benefit of the "traditional" here may be precisely its modularity.
In keeping with contemporary pedagogical fashions, the author organized the text, "with the backward course design model in mind and the content of each chapter was structured around these learning objectives. Because of this backward design focus, the length of each chapter is considerably shorter than most traditional textbooks. The intention is for the instructor to supplement the text with problems, case studies, and news articles and to use the text as a springboard for discussing deeper issues."
Several of the maps include details that are, quite frankly, impossible to decipher. Page 99, for example, shows something about population, but...? This is okay, as long as the on-line zoom function is available and doesn't distort, but many of the maps would be useless if printed out. It would also be helpful to include the names of countries on many of the maps rather than just their shaded-in shapes. Most students will not know, for example, that Eritrea is being referenced on pg. 104.
I didn't see any grammatical errors.
The text is quite culturally sensitive and inoffensive. Here, the author goes out of her way to err on what some readers may feel is an overly "political correct" way. For example, rather than discussing the Middle East, the author opts for North Africa and Southwest Asia. The author feels that the Middle East is an "awkward" lexical choice as it is "privileges the European perspective," which it certainly does. The challenge here, though, then involves a series of other discursive gymnastics to get to "North Africa and Southwest Asia," which, paradoxically, carry their own Eurocentric baggage. Is it really necessary to spend 400 words to get there? This is an issue that geographers go back and forth on, but the point is that the author certainly takes care to be sensitive.
Overall, this is a solid text suitable for introductory World Regional Geography courses.
Table of Contents
4. North America
5. Middle and South America
6. Sub-Saharan Africa
7. North Africa and Southwest Asia
8. South Asia
9. East and Southeast Asia
About the Book
Rather than present students with a broad, novice-level introduction to geography, emphasizing places and vocabulary terms, this text approaches geography as experts understand the discipline, focusing on connections and an in-depth understanding of core themes. This thematic approach, informed by pedagogical research, provides students with an introduction to thinking geographically. Instead of repeating the same several themes each chapter, this text emphasizes depth over breadth by arranging each chapter around a central theme and then exploring that theme in detail as it applies to the particular region. In addition, while chapters are designed to stand alone and be rearranged or eliminated at the instructor’s discretion, the theme of globalization and inequality unites all of the regions discussed. This core focus enables students to draw connections between regions and to better understand the interconnectedness of our world. Furthermore, the focus on both globalization and inequality helps demonstrate the real-world application of the concepts discussed. Colonialism, for instance, rather than a historical relict, becomes a force that has shaped geography and informs social justice. This thematic approach is also intended to facilitate active learning and would be suitable for a flipped or team-based learning-style course since it more easily integrates case studies and higher-order thinking than the traditional model.
Each chapter begins with a list of learning objectives. This text was written with the backward course design model in mind and the content of each chapter was structured around these learning objectives. Because of this backward design focus, the length of each chapter is considerably shorter than most traditional textbooks. The intention is for the instructor to supplement the text with problems, case studies, and news articles and to use the text as a springboard for discussing deeper issues. The chapters are written in an accessible style, often addressing the student directly, and the author’s voice has intentionally tried to remain present in the text. Following the Washington Post’s gender-inclusive style guide, the singular they is intentionally used throughout the text. Rhetorical questions are also used to help students reflect on concepts and to encourage them to dig deeper and consider concepts from different perspectives.
About the Contributors
Caitlin Finlayson earned a Ph.D. in Geography from Florida State University in 2012 and a B.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Winthrop University in 2007. She is a broadly trained Human Geographer specializing in Cultural Geography. Her specific research areas include the Geography of Religion, nature/societal interactions, and explorations of geographic theory and methodology. She has co-organized a session on sacred space at the Association of American Geographer’s annual meeting and her work has appeared in the journal Environment and Planning A as well as in The Professional Geographer. She is a member of the Association of American Geographers. She is an assistant professor at the University of Mary Washington and has taught a variety of courses in geography including World Regional Geography, Introduction to Human Geography, Sacred Spaces, and Environmental Studies.