Spring 2021 Courses through University Without Walls

View of the earth at night from orbit, with cities on the continent currently called North America lit up.

While most of our course offerings are remote this semester, we are offering several courses through U-Mass University Without Walls.  These are asynchronous courses that are taught independently from your regular semester courseload, and can taken by anyone, whether enrolled at UMass or not. They are all listed in SPIRE.

For more information, including cost and how to enroll, please visit https://www.umass.edu/uww/class-enrollment


Diversity, Globalization, and Sustainability: Introduction to Human Geography

(GEOGRAPH 102) 4 credits DG and SB Gen. Eds.

A wide-ranging introduction to the ways people shape the world they live in. We will study the themes and concepts of human geography through the current issues and large questions which guide them. Lectures and reading will focus on the geographic aspects of cultural diversity, population issues, states vs. nations, the global economy, development, urbanization and the human transformation of the earth. We will cover major subdivisions of human geography including cultural geography, population geography, economic geography, social geography, urban geography and political geography. (Gen. Ed. SB, DG)


Global Environmental Change (GEOGRAPH 110)

4 credits PS Gen Ed

The natural relationships between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere; human impact on the natural environment. Global environmental issues: global warming, sealevel rise, and ozone depletion in the stratosphere. Global changes of the past also studied to give perspective to forecasted changes. Includes writing exercises. (Gen.Ed. PS)


Geography of US and Canada (GEOGRAPH 200)

4 credits SB and DU Gen. Eds.

This course provides a survey of the geography of US and Canada, starting with core integrative themes and methods of analysis, and then moving into a region-by-region overview. Special emphasis will be on historical development, environmental change and sustainability, and the diversity of peoples and cultures and their relationships with landscapes and each other. (Gen. Ed. SB, DU)


Cartography and Geovisualization (GEOGRAPH 493A)

3 credits

Students will understand and implement principles of good design in cartography along with understanding the human vision and how it influences perception and cognition. The course will also cover the scope of contemporary thematic cartography and web mapping. Students will gain hands-on experience in designing and improving web-based maps. NOTE: This is taught through UWW or through regular university course registration. You should register whichever way is better for you.



4 credits

Students in WebGIS will explore web-based applications in geographic information science. This course will focus on hands-on practice using and building web-based mapping and analysis platforms, including Google Maps, ArcGIS Online, Leaflet, and Open Street Map. Along with conceptual discussion of how the internet, web servers, and cloud-based GIS services function, students will create and host web services relevant to their coursework, research, or professional goals. NOTE: This is taught through UWW or through regular university course registration. You should register whichever way is better for you.


Geocomputation (GEOGRAPH 497A)

3 credits

Automated geography helps us to understand the complex geographic phenomena that are intractable to solve by conventional techniques. This class focuses on opportunities for taking a computational approach to the solution of complex spatial problems, often non-deterministic. Through introductory lab practices and foundational lectures, the course covers various computer-based models and techniques applicable to spatial science, including expert systems, cellular automata, agent-based modeling, genetic algorithms, visualization, and data mining. The goals of this course are to teach basic geocomputation concepts through theory and practice to enable students to better use of the vast spatial data, exploit the value of this information resources and expand the spatial information towards analysis and modeling. Students are expected to design and implement a project which will enable them to practice the skills that they acquired during the course. NOTE: This is taught through UWW or through regular university course registration. You should register whichever way is better for you.


Intro Oceanography (GEOLOGY 103)

The natural processes of the ocean, including earthquakes and volcanoes, the hydrologic cycle and weather, ocean circulation and the global energy balance, the carbon cycle and productivity, biodi-versity and marine food webs, coastal dynamics. Also, global warming, sea-level rise, environmental degradation and the ocean system response to human activity and global change. Interactive class sessions, with considerable participation by students in problem solving, discussions, and demonstrations. Exams and grades based on teamwork as well as on individual performance. Students needing or wanting a laboratory component may register for GEO-SCI 131. (Gen.Ed. PS)


Dynamic Earth (GEOLOGY 105)

The earth is a dynamic planet, constantly creating oceans and mountain ranges, accompanied by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This course explores the ideas that led to the scientific revolution of plate tectonics; how plate tectonics provides a comprehensive theory explaining how and why volcanoes and earthquakes occur; and the hazards that they produce and their impact on humans. Emphasis is placed on current earthquake and volcanic events, as well as on momentous events from the past, such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, and the more recent eruptions of Mount St. Helens (Washington), Pinitubo (Philippines) and Kilauea (Hawaii). (Gen.Ed. PS)


Geology of the National Parks (GEOLOGY 109)

This course is an introduction to geology, using features of the U.S. National Park system to highlight the basic concepts and principles. Writer Wallace Stegner has called the National Parks "the best idea we ever had." The National Parks were created to preserve unique and beautiful landscapes for "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." From Acadia on the coast of Maine to the Hawaii Volcanoes, the parks preserve some of the most spectacular examples of geologic processes. From this perspective we will explore earth process dynamics, including plate tectonics, natural hazards, and climate change through geologic time. We will use a variety of materials to explore geology in many of the parks and monuments, including lectures, videos, photo galleries, readings, and maps. The National Parks provide a fascinating and inspiring introduction to the field of geology. (Gen. Ed. PS)