Global Honors 203 – Themes in Global Honors

Maps of the World and of the Mind


Professor George Mobus




Global Honors provides an opportunity for exceptional students to expand their views and understanding of the world as a whole. In this globalized age it is imperative for students to be alive to the way in which every aspect of every society interconnects, sometimes directly and forcefully, other times indirectly and subtly. This course is meant to provide interested students with an opportunity to experience, in some depth, one of several of the important themes in the Global Honors curriculum. The course is open to anyone meeting the entry requirements for the program and who may want to test the waters. It will be transcripted as a Global Honors course even if you do not enter the full program.



Course Description


The theme this spring will be the role of maps as representations of cognitive structures. Maps are general tools for representing and thinking about all sorts of structures. Road maps provide us a visual representation of how to get from place to place in the real world. Topological maps show us a three-dimensional layout of the land in a two-dimensional representation. Geo-political maps show us borders and identities of states in the world. They can also show us the resources available to inhabitants of those states. Cognitive maps are not as well known but just as useful as maps of physical entities. A cognitive map is a visual representation of what we know. Objects of knowledge – concepts – are linked together in a fashion similar to cities on a road map. These linkages convey information about how concepts relate to one another. Concept maps are useful aids as external memory and allow people to navigate their own knowledge structures just as one might navigate a cross-country road trip.


We will learn about how maps of the world represent knowledge of the ways in which various geological and political structures are organized in space and time. We will also learn how our minds construct maps of our concepts. The course will examine, as its two major sub-themes, the mapping of geo-political and of conceptual structures for understanding relationships between these structures.


The process of constructing a map requires several very important thinking skills. In this course you will explicitly exercise these skills, which include analytic ability, critical decision making, and synthesis of diverse perspectives. The use of maps for problem-solving, e.g. path finding, involves similar thinking skills used to seek goals. Both these endeavors are critical to understanding almost any disciplinary subject.



Learning Objectives


Students completing this course will understand:

·        The theoretical principles of maps as representations

·        The principles of their uses as knowledge and communication tools

·        Methods for devising both physical and conceptual maps

·        The use of maps to support problem-solving reasoning

·        Methods of communicating in language the content of maps

·        How maps of locale can be embedded in larger scale maps to connect one’s sense of place with the larger world

·        Historical perspectives: maps in the temporal dimension to track changes in the world and our understanding of it

·        Notions of maps and mapping in literature and the arts



Course Conduct


The course is designed to integrate experience and book knowledge. Each week we will devote part of the time to three basic activities. Lectures will identify specific knowledge areas that should be incorporated into your learning. Seminar periods will occur at the end of each week – last hour, for discussion and summarizing the week’s work.  We will conduct field work, map making, and analytical projects as a group.


Lecture and Seminar Periods


The first hour of each week will be devoted to lecture (unless the syllabus indicates otherwise). The subjects will cover theoretical aspects of mapping and using maps as well as explanations of the week’s activities. Lectures will incorporate readings that have been assigned according to the schedule so it is important that you complete these readings in advance of class time.


In the last hour of each week, we will have discussion in a seminar format similar to that used in the Global Honors core courses.  Students are expected to keep a journal of the week’s activities and come to the seminar session prepared to participate in the discussions. You can use your journal to record personal observations. But the principal use of the journal will be to record significant questions that you will have developed in the course of the week. During seminar period I will call on two or three students to pose their questions, which the class will use as the basis of the discussion period. First priority will go to fellow students who want to advance answers to questions or formulate additional questions based on the first one.


On several occasions during the quarter we will invite guest lecturers whose expertise will address a specific area that we will be considering. These may include specifics of sociopolitical economy, urban sustainability, literature, etc. Guest lectures will be announced with as much lead time as possible, but may vary due to scheduling issues.


Experiential Learning


Every week we will engage in either field trips (first two weeks – walks around campus and the immediate neighborhood) or in-class activities that will provide a deeper understanding of map making and using. Activities range from recording details of locale (field trips) to constructing maps using the same information but for different purposes, to analyzing conceptual territories and mapping concepts, to using maps to answer questions and make decisions. During these activities many more questions should arise and I will be providing specific information as needed.


Grading Criteria


Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

        Grade      Percent of assigned work    UW Transcript

A         94% and above                        4.0-3.9

A-        90 to 93.9%                             3.8-3.5

B+       87 to 89.9%                             3.4-3.2

B          84 to 86.9%                             3.1-2.9

B-        80 to 83.9%                             2.8-2.5

C+       77 to 79.9%                             2.4-2.2

C         74 to 76.9%                             2.1-1.9

C-        70 to 73.9%                             1.8-1.5

D+       67 to 69.9%                             1.4-1.2

D         64 to 66.9%                             1.1-0.9

D-        60 to 63.9%                             0.8-0.7


Grades will be based on the quality of the following work:

·        Narratives: These are short papers (two pages, double-spaced) in which you describe what you have learned during the week’s activities – one paper per week [20%],

·        Midterm Paper: An essay-style paper in which you will summarize your understanding of the main theoretical points covered up to that point in the course, and relate their application to the activities undertaken – how you have used the theory to guide the activity [25%],

·        Question Quality: The quality of questions you pose during seminar will be evaluated in terms of my assessment of how it demonstrates your depth of understanding of the problem area and how much response it draws from other students. The marking method for evaluation will be explained in class [10%] (Note: this is also a form of participation grading. I will decide in advance of class who I will be calling on, randomly, and if you are not there to pose your question it will count against you.),

·        Mapping Project: This will be a production that will demonstrate your grasp of the process of mapping and the use of the map to solve problems [20%],

·        Final Paper: Similar to the midterm paper. This will be a second installment in which you finish summarizing the work of the quarter and draw a conclusion about mapping as a tool for understanding the world and your own mind [25%].



See the schedule below for on-line reading assignments for technical parts of the course


Text: Anderson, Walter Truett (2004). All Connected Now: Life in the First Global Civilization, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

This text will help tie all of the concepts covered in the course into the global perspective. Maps are representations of connected elements. This book helps us understand how many different elements in the world are connected, not just geographically, but physically and conceptually.


Tentative Schedule





Activities & Assignments


Maps: Physical and Mental


The Global Map

Physical maps:

Mental maps:

Text: Introduction and Part 1 (2 chapters)

Start your journal.

Mapping the campus: We will spend the next two weeks building physical and mental maps of UWT


Constructing a physical map:

Exploration and recording new knowledge


Connecting the dots – maps of markets and states

Map making – Cartography:

Finding your place in the world:

Constructing a physical map: here is an on-line tool you might want to try out

And a tutorial on Generic Mapping Tool

Text: Chapters 3 & 4

Continue mapping of campus; Locate campus with Google Earth


Techniques of map making


Cultural maps

Continued from above readings.

Text: Chapter 5

Cataloging items found; connecting map to external world



Verification of maps


The Biomap

Geographic Information System (GIS) information system

Text: Chapter 6

Random sampling and verification techniques


Using a map: Path finding and problem solving


Communications – Information Maps

Text: Chapter 7

Midterm paper due, second meeting.


Abstract maps and map abstractions

Francaviglia, “Walt Disney’s Frontierland as an Allegorical Map”

Reitinger, “Mapping Relationships: Allegory, Gender, & the Cartographical Image”

Exercises in creating abstract representations of knowledge – of place and thought


Manipulating maps; maps in the Arts


Organization connections – Entity Maps

Jorge Luis Borges- 2 stories


Text: Chapters 8 & 9

Reading” maps as artistic representations


Representing the world map in politics, economics, and other social aspects


Global village

Text: Chapters 10 & 11

Geopolitical boundaries and forces. Using abstractions to discover things about the world.


Presenting your ideas


Possibilities – The Global Map

Text: Chapters 12, 13 & 14

Personal presentations of your final paper (10 minutes each)


Review and preview of Global Honors Core

Text: Epilogue

Papers due.