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WSP 151 — The History and Geography of Current Global Events: Spring 2018 Edition

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Saturdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): May 19—Jun 2
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: May 12
Unit: 1
Tuition: $325
Instructor(s): Martin Lewis
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on May 26
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
May 19—Jun 2
2 days
Drop By
May 12
1 Unit
Martin Lewis
Please Note: No class on May 26
While global news accounts focus on current events, the geographical and historical context necessary for fully comprehending what is actually occurring is seldom provided. For example, stories on the long-running war in Syria often mention the fact that the country’s embattled regime is dominated by members of the Alawite “offshoot” of Shia Islam, but they seldom explain why radical Sunni groups such as ISIS (or the so-called Islamic State) regard the Alawites with particular disdain, nor do they show how the complex geography of Syria’s numerous ethnic and religious minorities influences the ongoing struggle.

This course will delve deeply into the geographical and historical background of major international news stories. The actual topics covered will vary depending on newsworthy developments. We will tentatively cover such issues as the migration crisis in Europe and its political ramifications, the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, the political situation in Iran, and the geopolitical tensions in East Asia generated by the rise of China. Lectures will be structured partly around the explication of maps, ranging from historical maps to topographic maps to Google Earth images. We will examine these cartographic products with a critical eye, focusing not only on what they reveal, but also on what they obscure and how they can encode ideologically charged perspectives.

This course will cover different topics than those discussed in WSP 151, Fall 2017. Grade restriction: No letter grade.

Martin Lewis, Senior Lecturer in International History, Stanford

Martin Lewis is the author or co-author of five books, including The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography and Globalization and Diversity: Geography of a Changing World. He received a PhD in geography from UC Berkeley.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.