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WSP 151 — The History and Geography of Current Global Events

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Nov 4—Nov 11
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 28
Unit: 1
Tuition: $325
Instructor(s): Martin Lewis
Status: Open
On-campus course
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Nov 4—Nov 11
2 days
Drop By
Oct 28
1 Unit
Martin Lewis
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 current 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 the Middle East, and the geopolitical tensions in East Asia generated by the rise of China and the belligerence of North Korea. 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.

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.