Fall 2017 Course: Historical Geography: Mapping American Childhoods (GEOG170/HIST170)

20 Mar

Historical Geography (GEOG170/HIST170)

The intersection of Geography and History is explored here through a critical examination of American childhoods of the late 19th and 20th Centuries. We’ll use diverse readings and resources to uncover the conditions of childhood, including everything from child labor to housing, from childhood diseases to immigrant experiences, and from schooling to material cultures of books, games, and toys. We ask questions such as: How is ‘childhood’ constructed socially and culturally over time and through different places? How are diverse experiences of ‘childhood’ related to broader social, economic, and political contexts?

We will take five key dimensions of social life as central to understanding past childhoods, and in turn, this allows us to build a better understanding of American culture, places, and histories. These dimensions are:

  • Mobility and Migration
  • Building the Nation: Identity and Place
  • Social Inequalities: Race, Class, and Gender
  • Health and Mortality of 19th & 20th C. Children
  • Material Cultures of Childhood and Youth


This is a “3+1 Viz-Lab” course — students register for GEOG170 or HIST170  and for a 1-credit Visualization Lab (GEOG195/HIST195). In the lab we’ll learn data visualization tools such as annotated timelines, short documentaries, and simple maps for analytical and presentation purposes (no prior mapping needed). These tools are used in many companies, non-profits, and in academic programs across the country so they are valuable skills well beyond the bounds of this course.

Please email for more info:




Mapping mid-20th C. Chicago

13 Oct

African-Americans in 1940 Chicago


Fall 2016 – GEOG274 – Social Justice and the City

17 Mar

New Course for Fall!
GEOG274 – Advanced Topics in Urban and Social Geography: Social Justice and the City.
CRN: 95162

Description: The formation and evolution of cities has always depended on social inequality – marginalized racial/ethnic/religious populations have been separated into ‘ghettos’, gender has shaped one’s access to public spaces, the poor have been squeezed out (or in) to the worst sections of town, the disabled and elderly have been immobilized by physical barriers, uneven surveillance and policing fan the flames of hate and violence, and the exploitation of labor has built monuments to the rich. In the face of how deeply woven together the social forces of injustice and city-building have been, what does it take to envision a ‘socially just city’?
This class begins with establishing some conceptual frameworks based on diverse theories of justice drawn from Marxist, feminist, anti-racist, queer, and other critical perspectives — and then employs those in the examination of empirical, real-world settings to explore interlocking dimensions of oppression, spatial patterns and processes of marginalization, and urban expressions of power and disenfranchisement.

Please note that due to the enormity of this field, we will focus primarily on North American cities with some limited examples from European cities. So, while globalization will be examined in terms of its effects on urban marginalization, and many urban processes themselves are found all over the world, the scope is geographically narrowed to keep it manageable.

Expectations: Students will be active participants in this seminar with responsibility for critical reading, rotating discussion leadership, and short weekly writing assignments. Other assignments include mapping projects (GIS not required), film reviews, and a semester-long project that students will design with support and guidance.

Pre-reqs: Students should have familiarity with basic urban processes, must have their D1 completed, and ideally have taken or are co-enrolled in GEOG175, Urban Geography. Students who took GEOG195/SOC195 – Mapping Modern American Childhoods are eligible for this course. Others who are interested should contact me at

Class meetings Fall 2016: Tues/Thurs. 2:50-4:05. Old Mill 221 (Economics seminar room)

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Youth Geographies and Teen Mobility

27 Jan

My co-authored paper (with Brian H.Y. Lee) on high school students’ mobility in two Vermont school districts is forthcoming in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers (March, 2016). DOI:10.1080/24694452.2015.1124017

Here’s a press release and story about the research by UVM Communications:

Here is the title and abstract:

Mobility, Communication, and Place: Navigating the Landscapes of Suburban U.S. Teens
In the context of sprawl and car-dependence in U.S. metropolitan areas, young people – especially teens in middle-class suburbs – create new mobility practices with near-universal adoption of cellphones and high levels of access to automobiles. The growth in the use of hand-held mobile devices for communication and information may enhance independent mobility and accessibility for higher socio-economic segments of the youth population. In a project with teens in two high schools near Burlington, Vermont, representing somewhat different land-use contexts, we examined how often and in what ways teens use ICTs to arrange transportation, what travel needs are being met and which transportation modes are used, and how household situations contextualize the use of ICTs for mobility. We explore the ways that access to cellphones and cars impacts how high school teens organize and enact their daily lives in suburban and rural contexts. We employ a conceptual framework that connects mobility, communication, and place based on the notion that contemporary teens generate new intersections between the built, digital, and social landscapes.
Keywords: Cellphones, information and communication technologies (ICTs), suburbs, teens, transportation

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Posted in Research


Mapping American Childhoods

27 Jan

I am currently working on a new project called Mapping American Childhoods, focused on the 20th and 21st Centuries, which takes a look at themes of mobility and migration, health and mortality, the cultural production of ‘childhood in place’, and young people’s experiences of racial segregation and suburbanization from a ‘critical youth geographies’ perspective. Last year (2015) I won the Frank Bryan Summer Research Award from the Center for Research on Vermont to fund part of this work based on historical records of indigent children in Burlington at the turn of the 20th C.

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