C120 - Geography


"Wars are a rather expensive way to teach Americans geography."

It seems like Americans have always been bad at geography, as the quote above suggests. The quote is unattributed because there's no clear record of who said it first. Much has been written on the subject of Americans and geography and many writers have called this "cartographical ignorance".

These materials are different than your high school geography class in that the emphasis is placed on political, diplomatic, and military significance. For example, this photo shows the waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. It's called the Kerch Strait and separates Russia from Crimea. In late 2018, this waterway became important because Russia was using this strait to deny access to Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov. Places like this are called "sea lanes of control" (SLOC) because they are choke points controlled by one country. These are political hot spots.

Also included are cartographic concepts such as map projections, which map our 3D world into 2D representations. These projections distort reality and that influences attitudes that people have and sometimes has political consequences.

Students will use their computers to follow along with the training, making use of online mapping tools such as Google Maps and thetruesize.com. They'll also learn what it takes to create custom maps.

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