By now you all should have solidified your paper topics. Here I will reiterate the goals of the assignment while adding some explanation and detail. The thesis/outline/sources assignment will be explained in a separate document. The first section of this document pertains to the standard assignment, but sections 2-4 apply to both standard and alternative assignments.

1. Global Actor / World Region

The main objective of this project is to learn how public, private or non-governmental actors with ‘global reach’ frame and implement strategy in a distant world region. Your assignment is to craft an argument about (a) how the region is effectively ‘mapped’ (i.e. conceptualized) by a global actor, and then (b) how this actor tangibly and practically works to implement its strategy in a selected region outside of its origin/base region.

This project is designed to complement the course text material so you learn about world regions by applying the lens of a specific actor to making sense of a region (e.g., the EU’s perspective on Africa).  This is a very different lens in comparison to that applied by the course text authors who are trying to be broad, general, integrative, and unbiased.

 How a Region Is Conceptualized

The idea of a global actor “mapping” a region can seem a little confusing. You can think of it as how the actor makes sense of the region and its components, and what sort of meaning or importance it sees in the region. You can think about scale: Does the actor see the region as a single entity with common traits/problems/opportunities? Does the actor see it as a collection of nation-states? Does it focus more on the city or village scale? Does it recognize a lot of diversity within the region, or use the same approach everywhere? What characteristics are the most important to the actor when it analyzes this region? How does it target locations for its engagement with the region? How would the actor describe the region (e.g. helpless, pristine, unstable, an untapped market, a source of labor, threatened or vulnerable, violent, friendly, wealthy, exotic, etc.)?

See UNESCO, for example, which has defined a number of world regions somewhat differently from our course text. Or see the case of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which chooses where to work this way – they focus on “catastrophic events” – such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, or natural disasters that overwhelm local health systems, and generate a map like this one:


 How a Strategy Is Implemented

You also need to focus on how your adopted global actor attempts to implement its strategy in a single world region. For example, some actors will establish a regional headquarters in select world regions and use this as a base for their operations in the region. Other actors use joint ventures with regional actors – they work through a regional actor that has the connections and knowledge, to be effective in the region. There are many approaches to implementing strategy in a world region. Your task is to determine the approach(es) used by the actor and see how the actor really operates in a world region beyond its region of origin.

Your case studies will enable you to assess how the global actor tangibly gets things done on the ground in the world region you are focusing on. This means being aware of why and where, for example, Coca Cola produces its product in select parts of Africa, or why Google places its Research & Development units in Zurich and its key lobbying unit in Brussels.  Students working alone should have 1-2 case studies at the very most, but students working together will likely have more.

2. Assessment of Papers

Final Paper Rubric

Click to enlarge

Your paper will be assessed using the rubric to the right. The total points add up to 100, so the number next to each criterion shows the % weight.


Note that the single most important criterion is that you have a good balance of description AND ANALYSIS. This is why it is imperative that your paper is structured around an original argument laid out in the introduction, and justified by the body of the paper (and your case study). Some people like to think of analysis as the answering “why” questions.

When we ask for a sophisticated understanding of the region, this should only be in ways that are relevant to your topic. (E.g. do not go into depth about a region’s tectonic activity or linguistic groups if these have nothing to do with your actor’s work!)

Make sure that you use your case study as evidence for your main arguments. Do not let the case study take over your entire paper, at the expense of your broader argument.

3. Sources

 Sources to Use

There is not a strictly defined number of sources that you need to use, but the most effective essays tend to use at least ten. The assortment of sources you use will depend on your individual project. You will all end up using some information directly from your actor (especially when researching your case studies), but it is very important that you do not rely too much on your chosen actor’s own information, which, of course, will be biased. Additionally, almost all of you should be able to integrate some academic sources (scholarly books or peer-reviewed academic journal articles) into your paper. Check with us if you are not sure whether you have found sources that qualify as academic sources.

 Finding Sources

First, you should not only rely on Google for information. Take advantage of the truly excellent library system (and librarians) we have on campus.  The most appropriate librarians are those working in the Geography Library, the Business School Library, and Memorial Library. Students working on health-oriented topics should also consider Ebling Library.

Second, explore the amazing databases we have access to at the tips of our fingers!  Dig around and search by keyword(s). Two excellent social sciences/sciences data base are the Web of Knowledge/Science, and Proquest Research Library. Ask the librarians if you are not sure how to find or use these databases.

Third, if your actor is a firm, the Business School librarian had this to say about data bases:

Hi, the best database for company information is OneSource. Factiva has the most international newspapers and magazines. It can be accessed from anywhere but only three people can be in it at one time. Other article databases with company news would be ABI/Inform and Business Source Premier. Business Monitor International may also be useful – it has excellent quarterly reports on certain industries in all countries. And my International Business research guide is organized by country and has links to many other resources:

Fourth, a very good newspaper database is LexisNexis, which the Library subscribes to.


4. Paper Guidelines

 Length & Formatting

  •  One person, they should be 5-8 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references)
    • Note: Syllabus says 6-8, but 5 single-spaced pages is okay!
  • Two people, 8-10 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references).
  • Three people, 10-14 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references).
  • Four people, 12-16 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references).

Please note that the length does not proportionally rise as group size expands because the process of coordinating research and co-authorship takes some extra time to do well. Don’t worry if you are a little above or below these page length guidelines…in the end it is the quality of the content that matters, not minor issues like length. Don’t pad/fluff up at the last minute as it rarely ever helps improve the quality of a paper.

Use 12-point font, Times New Roman, and 1” margins.


You have flexibility in how you structure your paper, but here’s a common rough outline:

Introduction (lay some context; outline thesis statement; state your key findings)

  1. Background about actor and relevant information about the region
  2. Body: Main points about actor’s engagement with region, including case study, and your analysis of the actor’s engagement (*Case studies tend to be ~40-50% of paper)
  3. Conclusion (revisit your research questions/thesis statement and highlight your main findings)
  4. Works Cited


In contrast to your discussion posts, please use formal citations in these papers. Please use APA format for your parenthetical citations and works cited section. Though you may not be used to this system, it is the most common citation style for social science papers and important to learn. You can find details about APA format here:  (see menu on the left-hand side)

It is imperative that you attribute your sources for data and ideas, and always use quotation marks when you are directly quoting a source using the same words. Failure to do either of these counts as plagiarism, and is a serious offense.

Please review these resources to learn more about avoiding plagiarism and effectively quoting sources:

Dear Class,

Here are a few tips as you get ready for our first Discussion Question assignment, due this coming Thursday (September 18th) at 10:00 pm CDT.

1) Read the question carefully, and make sure you’re answering what is being asked of you.

For example, the intention of the first discussion question is to get you thinking about your identity. The question is not “what would you do in Europe” or “would you enjoy studying abroad in New Zealand”. You may address these things if they help you write about your personal identity, but always make sure that you are answering the question.

Clearly answer each question posed for discussion.  It is best to use sub-headings (Part A, Part B….).

2) Use course material when relevant, and cite it.

These discussion posts are the only way that you can prove to us that you are actually “attending” (viewing) the video lectures and completing the assigned readings. Because of this, referring to the readings, lectures, podcasts, etc. is a major part of getting a good grade for you answer. For discussion posts we will not be strict about citation format, as long as it’s clear what you’re referring to. If you’re directly quoting a text, you MUST indicate page number. Here are some examples for how you’d refer to the textbook:

In South Asia, tea has become “a catalyst of economic, social and political change” (textbook: 360). [Has direct quote. Need to put page.]

The textbook explains how tea has affected not only the economies of South Asia, but also the social and political landscape. [No direct quote, so no page needed. Clearly tells us that textbook is being used as evidence here.]

It is perfectly fine and welcomed to personalize discussion questions and answer the questions with personal experiences as examples, especially for Discussion Forum #1’s topic.  Keep in mind, however, you still need to show you can intertwine your personal experience with the material learned in the weekly readings, podcasts, lectures, and movies.

2b) Use a variety of course material–not just one source. When possible, put different sources in conversation with each other. Combining sources to form a single idea or argument shows a good understanding of the material and sophisticated thought. We understand that not every single source is useful for every question, and we definitely don’t expect you to use every single source for every question.

3) Be specific, and justify arguments/claims that you make.

This means answering “WHY” and “HOW” questions. If you claim studying abroad in Canada will make you feel more like a North American citizen rather than just an American, tell us WHY. If you claim that living in Europe would “change” how you relate to your country of origin, you need to explain HOW your relationship would change (and, of course, WHY it would change!).

4) You may use outside information, but this is certainly NOT required and we’re not asking you to do this. Completely cite any outside information that you do use (e.g. full name of book, article, full URL…).

Because we’re using these questions partly to gauge how much you are learning from course materials, using outside sources does NOT take the place of using course materials.

5) Keep your responses to two pages. If you make sure that every sentence is helping to answer the specific questions answered, this will be easier to do. Not a big deal if you have a few sentences on page three. If you have 2.5 pages, though, put on your editing hat and do some sentence surgery.

Grading the Discussion and Response

As the syllabus outlines, the discussion forum activities total up to 70% of your final grade (5 x 14%). To help gauge the quality of the response, we will use the following rubric (click to expand):

If you enter your dropbox submission, the rubric scoring will be found there.

Please note, to earn full credit, your response needs to be quite good. This means that it will likely be very difficult to consistently earn 100%. We will be assessing each response individually.

And finally, please remember that voluntary reactions to one or more other students’ contributions are encouraged. Activity and quality engagement in the forums help generate a sense of community and enhance learning outcomes. Your engagement with and reactions to classmates’ posts will be noted when making decisions about borderline grade decisions (e.g., AB vs B), with up to 3% bonus points possible. Allocation of these bonus points is at our discretion.

Happy writing!

Kramer & Cathy

Dear 340 students,

340BookCoverI wanted to pass on some information about the course text for Geography 340 World Regions in Global Context (Fall 2014). The course text is:

  • World Regions in Global Context: People, Places, and Environments, 5/E by Sally Marston, Paul Knox, Diana Liverman, Vincent Del Casino & Paul Robbins ©2013, ISBN-10: 032182105X | ISBN-13: 9780321821058

After a period of transition, we are shifting to the 5th edition so please locate it, and not the 4th edition.

Options include fully online:

An ‘a la Carte’ edition for a binder:

and the standalone book (without MasteringGeography):

The University Bookstore by Memorial Library typically sources copies of the paperback version and the three ring binder (a la Carte) version of the 5th edition.  You can buy or rent either of these versions from the bookstore.

As will be noted in the syllabus, there is a copy available on two-hour loan in the Geography Library.  And, finally, we’re placing the assigned chapters for the first two weeks on eReserve to give you time to get the best/most affordable version.

Best of luck getting the textbook. Let me know if you have any problems.



Hi everyone,

This is the support blog for Geography 340 (World Regions in Global Context), a 100% online course being offered in the Fall 2014 term. I will use this blog to update you, though the course content is provided via Learn@UW.

Here are several updates to get some things moving before term starts on September 2nd.

photo-1First, please note that this is a 100% asynchronous online course, so you will be able to work through the content at your own pace.  The key difference between a ‘synchronous’ vs ‘asynchronous’ course is that synchronous courses require you to be either physically or virtually present in a room or chatroom at the exact same time. Please note, however, that there are regularly scheduled rolling deadlines for assignments that you submit to us. You can do the reading, viewing, and listening at your own pace, as long as you complete them in time to finish and submit your written assignments (e.g. you must do all of the work for US/Canada, Europe, and Oceania sections in time for the first Discussion Forum, etc.). Each and every deadline is identified in the syllabus. One word of warning, though: please do not take Geog 340 if you intend on just doing enough to get a C or a Pass – the rolling deadlines are critically important to keep up with. Online courses provide enormous amounts of flexibility for students but the experience tends to fall apart if you let things slide and consistently miss deadlines.

Second, the TA (Cathy Day) and I will also be engaging with each of you via the Learn@UW course website, email, and Skype. So, in short, there will be plenty of engagement time, but you can engage with us from your dorm room in Madison, or your guest room in Namibia, or your apartment in DC, or Prague, or wherever! I will also have regularly scheduled office hours in Science Hall if you want to meet in person, and Cathy will have regular Skype office hours. Or just contact us via email. Office hours are detailed in the syllabus. On the basis of past patterns, I suspect the majority of you will not have taken an online course before, or perhaps only one other one. Given this, please do not be shy about reaching out – we’re real human beings and are very happy to engage with you on a personal basis!

Third, the course website (which is hosted on Learn@UW) goes live at 12:01 am on September 2nd, 2014. You will need access to a computer to watch and/or listen to the course content (apart from the textbook), and to engage in discussion forums, etc. We also make ample use of ‘drop boxes’ on the site so you can uploading written exercises, your paper, etc., on it.

Fourth, the course text this term will be World Regions in Global Context: People, Places, and Environments, 5th Edition by Sally Marston, Paul Knox, Diana Liverman, Vincent Del Casino & Paul Robbins, 2013. More information about textbook options is available the the entry above this one. Please note that all you need access to, from my perspective this term, is the ebook or paperback version or binder reader. You should get the 5th edition too, please. A copy of the 5th edition is available in the Geography Library on two-hour loan. Please note that the assigned textbook is required reading, and you will be spending a lot of time with it so please ensure that you are satisfied with the format you are considering.

Fifth, please note that those of you pursuing area/regional certificates can configure the 30% research paper to match your regional interests. This, in addition 1-2 weeks devoted to ‘your’ region, should enable you to count Geog 340 towards meeting your requirements. It is always best, though, to check with the relevant staff in Ingraham Hall about this issue.

Hope this helps provide a little background information…and watch this space for updates as we get closer to the start of term.


Kramer Gillin


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