This course requires you to produce a final paper or project in order to demonstrate your ability to critically analyse a geographical topic of interest to you. The format of this assignment is intentionally open—paper or project—to give you an opportunity to present your work in a way that you believe best showcases what you have learned during the semester. Provided that the instructor approves your proposal and annotated bibliography (due Nov. 2nd), the paper or project topic guidelines have similarly few restrictions (with the expectation that you will ask more thought-provoking questions and produce more insightful work if guided by your own interests and curiosities). This is your chance to go in-depth into the geography of a subject that is meaningful to you!
The two due date options for this assignment are intended to give you the opportunity to receive feedback and revise and resubmit your work for a higher mark. The due dates are as follows:
Revision option (due 11:59 pm PST on Dec. 8th): papers/projects submitted by 11:59 pm PST on Dec. 10th will receive detailed feedback and a preliminary mark and may be revised.
If you wish to revise your paper/project for a higher mark, you will have five days from when your paper/project is returned to you to resubmit a revised draft for a potentially higher mark.
If you are satisfied with your preliminary mark or do not submit a revised version of your work within five days of receiving feedback, you will retain your initial mark.
No-revision option (due 11:59 pm PST on Dec. 16th): work submitted after Dec. 10th will receive a mark and brief feedback and will not be eligible for revision.
**With the exception of papers/projects under revision, all final papers/projects must be submitted by Dec. 16th at 11:59 pm PST. Papers/projects under revision must be resubmitted within five days of receiving feedback.**
If you choose to write a final paper:
Your final paper should be between 1500 to 2000 words in length. You may choose from the list of prompts (below) or propose your own topic. You may also use this opportunity to expand upon a previous weekly Padlet prompt.
If you choose an alternative final project format:
You may submit a final project instead of a final paper. Some possible projects include: a counter-map of your home or neighbourhood, a photo essay, a comic strip, a video, a piece of music, a podcast, etc… Please be aware that I am not qualified to assess your project on its artistic or other merits; I am a geographer, so whatever format or medium you choose, you will need to include a 750-word “artist’s statement” or similar explanation detailing how your project relates to geographical concepts from this course.
In order to identify a topic, think about the following questions:
What are my interests and hobbies? How do I spend my time? How might geography help me to see these things in a new light?
How do I move through spaces in my community? Where do I feel “in place” or “out of place”? How can geography help me analyse these experiences?
How can geography give me insights into current events that affect my community and me?
What themes from this course captured my attention?
What geographical questions has this course made me want to explore in greater detail?
What geographical tools and concepts do I want to take out into the world and try to apply?
In which scholarly conversations in geographical literature would I like to participate?
A strong paper will:
Include an interesting or descriptive title and your name
Include an introduction and conclusion
Include a clear and concise:
Provide the necessary context to situate the reader within the chosen topic
Define key terms and relevant geographical concepts
Use relevant geographical concepts to provide a clear and compelling analysis of the chosen topic
Organize evidence and ideas in a logical and accessible way
Support the analysis using at least three scholarly sources
Include in-text citations (or footnotes) and a bibliography
Research and Citations
As preparation for this assignment, you are expected to attend a library research training during lecture on October 13th. Even if you have already taken similar training in another course, it is important that you also attend this training as it will provide guidance specific to this assignment.
Your paper or project must use at least three scholarly sources—in addition to the textbook and lecture content—to provide evidence and to support your analysis. You are not required to use only sources from geography journals; however, drawing from geographical scholarship will likely deepen your geographical understanding and analysis. Use the Langara library website to access online databases such as Academic Search Premier or JSTOR.
You must acknowledge all sources with in-text citations (or footnotes) and list all sources in your bibliography at the end of the document. Any time you use another person’s ideas, expressions, information, line of thinking, or argument without acknowledging them, you are committing plagiarism! Please take care to avoid this. Plagiarism may be grounds for academic penalties.
Your bibliography must include: the textbook, lecture notes, at least three scholarly sources, and whatever popular sources (e.g. websites, media articles, etc…) or other documents (e.g. government reports, etc…) that you use. Do not cite Wikipedia; if you find helpful information on Wikipedia, you must locate and cite the original source. You may use whatever recognized citation style you prefer as long as your citations are consistent, complete, and properly formatted.
Unless you make other arrangements with the instructor, please submit your final paper/project through Brightspace.
Your final paper or project will be worth 25% of your course grade. The assignment will be marked based on demonstrated critical thinking; understanding of geographical concepts; depth of analysis; quality of research; organization, structure, and clarity; and insight and originality. A rubric will be posted to Brightspace.
Proposal and Annotated Bibliography
In preparation for your final paper or project, you will be asked to submit a proposal and annotated bibliography (due Nov. 2nd). The purpose of writing a proposal is to help you to focus your topic and begin formulating your central argument. It is also an opportunity to get feedback from the instructor. An annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of sources that also includes a summary of each source. The purpose of annotation is to demonstrate the quality of the source and its relevance to your proposed paper or project. In short, how will the source contribute to your analysis? For additional information, see the Proposal and Annotated Bibliography handout (forthcoming).
Thesis Statement Peer Review Exercise
To assist you with your final paper/project, you will do a two-part peer review exercise. For Part 1 (due Nov. 23rd), you will post a draft of your final paper/project thesis statement to Padlet. For Part 2 (due Nov. 30th), you will comment in Padlet with your feedback on two other students’ thesis statements. For additional information, see the Thesis Statement Peer Review Exercise handout (forthcoming).
Possible Paper Prompts:
You may propose your own topic based in your specific interests, expand on a Padlet post prompt, or use one of the prompts below.
Choose a favourite dish or meal. Provide a geographical account of that food using geographical concepts from the course (e.g. feijoada and the geographies of race in Brazil, bubble tea and geographies of migration and/or cultural appropriation, etc…).
Identify geographical themes in popular culture (such as a movie, TV show, or song—e.g. the geopolitics of Captain America, the migration geographies of Bhangra, etc…).
Find a plant in your yard or neighbourhood and provide a geographical account of that plant using geographical concepts from the course (e.g. grapevines in East Vancouver and Italian/Portuguese migration, cedar in Coast Salish geographies, etc…).
Pick an article on current events from a local news source and analyse it using geographical concepts from the course.
Reveal the gendered geographies in the space of your home.
Using geographical concepts, analyze how COVID-19 has altered spatial relationships.
If you need assistance, don’t struggle unnecessarily and don’t wait until the paper/project deadline! Reach out to me or any of the following resources—we are here to help!
For research assistance, visit the library assignment guide or contact the geography librarian, Allison Sullivan (see the library assignment guide for contact information).
For writing assistance, make a virtual appointment with the Langara Writing Centre.