Geography of Global Change

Number of ECTS: 6   Price: 720 €
Teaching Language: English Place: Building J
Bellaterra Campus, 08193 Bellaterra

Teaching Period: 26 June to 14 July


Teacher: Graham Mortyn

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Contents overview

Geography of Global Change is an optional second cycle course in Geography. The course has a total of 6 theory credits and includes a series of practicals.

The main objective of the course is to explore causes, processes and consequences of global environmental change in the world today, with particular emphasis on human influence. Despite being global in extent, this change may manifest itself uniquely and differently depending on the temporal and spatial scales examined. The course considers the Earth as a system, and bases everything on the concepts of Earth System Science. Despite global-scale influences, more local-scale manifestations of such processes will also be explored and examined. Global environmental change is partly driven by human activities, with sometimes unexpected and indirect consequences. Some of these global change processes have become the subject of international attention and agreements, with the aim of minimizing negative impacts.

The course will be subdivided into introductory concepts and distinctions, and followed by distinct environmental spheres of impact, including the atmosphere, the oceans, and the land surfaces. With these distinctions in mind, constant exploration of more focused elements will occur, considering human population growth, urbanization, water and land use, transportation, energy and other resource consumption, pollution, and more.

Block 1 Introduction to Global Change
The Earth as a System
Spatial and temporal scales (e.g. human, geologic, and all in between)
Global change vs. climate change, similarities and distinctions

Block 2 The Atmosphere
Defining the structure and composition (baseline for change)
Greenhouse gases
Industrial pollution

Block 3 The Oceans
Role in global and climate change
Non-climatic global changes (e.g. fisheries, pollution, exotic species invasions)
Specific global change issues (monsoons, ENSO, hurricanes, etc.)

Block 4 Terrestrial Impacts
The nature of land surfaces
Specific terrestrial-based concerns (e.g. biosphere)
Causes for concern and likely futuristic developments

Teaching / learning activities

  • lecture presentations
  • readings of relevant articles, and book content
  • both individual and small group activity and discussion of concepts
  • question and answer / critical dialog

Block 1 Thematic Question Answers, due Wednesday of Week 1
Block 2 Thematic Question Answers, due Friday of Week 1
Block 3 Thematic Question Answers, due Wednesday of Week 2
Block 4 Thematic Question Answers, due Monday of Week 3
Final Exam Tuesday of Week 3

Links and references
GUGLER, J. (2004). World Cities. Globalization, Development and Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
JOHNSTON, R.J., TAYLOR, P.J. I WATTS, M.J. (eds) (2002): Geographies of Global Change. Oxford: Blackwell (2ª edició).
MANNION, A.M. (1991): Global environmental change. Harlow, Essex: Longman.
MARSH,W.M. I GROSSA,J.M. Jr (1996): Environmental Geography. Science, Land Use and Earth Systems. New York: John Wiley.
OLDFIELD, F. 2005: Environmental Change. Key Issues and Alternative Perspectives. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
STEFFEN, W. et al 2004: Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure. New York, Springer.
TURNER, B.T.II; Clark,W.C., KATES,R.W., RICHARDS,J.F., MATHEWS,J.T. I MEYER,W.B. (eds) (1990): The Earth as transformed by human action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

There will also be selected readings from journal articles, and other links, highlighted during the course. Some links above are to journal articles.