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Degree Requirements for the Specialization in Geography

Requirements for the Specialization in Geography

Curriculum Requirements

Incoming students are expected to consult with the Executive Officer or their prospective advisor(s) and devise a personal program of study to acquire command over the skills and methods they need to work in their proposed area of research within their first semester. If courses for specific skills and methods are not available within the department then students will be encouraged to seek the necessary instruction elsewhere.

The core coursework includes the following requirements

EES 709 Geographical Thought and Theory (3 credits, first semester) This course explores the foundations of geographical knowledge. The course situates the history of geographical thought in its broad philosophical and historical context. Topics may include themes such as the concept of nature (incorporating scientific, anthropological, historical and humanistic perspectives), questions of technology and society (with particular emphasis upon technologies of geographical enquiry and representation, e.g. cartography to Geographical Information Science, remote sensing, statistics); how to think about basic geographical concepts such as space, place, region and environment in historical perspective; and examination of the relations between geographical knowledges and political power.

EES 712 Geographical Knowledge in Action (3 credits, second semester) This integrated course takes the form of an investigative workshop in which students and faculty collaborate in the examination of a specific geographical problem using the New York metropolitan region as a focus for study. Students with different research interests will here be encouraged to integrate their skills (along with those of participating faculty) in studying a general problem in an integrative way. Research seminars will bring in outside experts to look at different facets of a common problem.

EES 704 The Nature of Scientific Research (3 credits, first semester). This course is designed to introduce first-semester students in the Ph.D. Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences to the principles of scientific inquiry. Following a broad overview of the epistemological foundations of the sciences, we compare and contrast the nature of explanation in the historical sciences (biology and geology), experimental sciences (physics and chemistry) and social sciences. We will discuss in detail the mix of quantitative and qualitative methods that are appropriate to each of these fields of inquiry. Finally, we explore ethics in scientific research. We will go beyond the issues of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism to look at the broader responsibilities of the researcher to their research subjects, co-authors, mentor /mentee, scientific community, and society at large.

EES 802 Dissertation Proposal Workshop (3 credits). This seminar is designed to teach students how to write a dissertation proposal, prepare grant proposals, and present ideas in a seminar setting. The student is required to formulate a dissertation proposal under the supervision of the student’s mentor and the instructor. Prerequisites for EES 802 are: 1, satisfactory completion of all first-year core courses; 2, satisfactory completion of the First Examination; 3, submission of a one-page dissertation proposal abstract; 4, approval of the student’s dissertation advisor; and 5, permission of the Executive Officer.

I. First Examination: A written and oral examination is administered by the Geography First Examination Committee, comprising members of the doctoral faculty in Geography, following the student’s successful completion of between 18 and 24 course credits including the following requirements:
A. The three first-year core courses (EES 704, EES 709, EES 712), each with a grade of B or better;
B. A methods course directed to the student’s specific needs;

C. At least one graduate-level course in each of two of the following areas: Cities and Urban Processes, Physical Geography, Globalization and Uneven Development, Productions of Nature, Geographic Information Science and Spatial Methods, and Health Geographies; and
D. An overall average of 3.0 or better in all courses.

Note: Earth Systems Science I (EES 716) or Earth Systems Science II (EES 717), the first year core courses in Environmental and Geological Sciences, satisfy requirement C for students electing Physical Geography as one of the two fields of study.
Note: A student who has taken any of the required courses in section A or B in a master’s program or equivalent may test out of the course by taking the course final examination.

The written component of the first exam will be an open-book, take-home exam. The questions will be prepared by members of the Geography First Examination Committee, based on selective sets of readings for each core course and area of specialization. Students will be expected to provide substantive responses to several essay questions, with citations and references to all the salient literature. The committee, following a 1-2 week period to review the written examination, will meet with the student and have the opportunity to provide feedback and ask follow up questions based on the written responses. The grade (pass/fail) will be based on the student’s performance on both the written and oral examinations. A student who fails all or part of the written or oral examinations will be given one opportunity to retake those parts of the examination, no more than 12 months after the original examination.

II. Second Examination: The Second Examination involves the submission and defense of a proposal describing the dissertation research planned by the student. (See Appendix A: Format for Dissertation Proposals). A dissertation committee, comprising a minimum of three members of the doctoral faculty, is appointed to assist the student in preparing for the Second Examination. The dissertation proposal must be written in an acceptable research-journal format, and presented to the student’s Dissertation Committee for a critical review of content. The Dissertation Committee must receive the Proposal at least two weeks prior to the scheduled Second Examination. The Second Examination is an oral examination conducted by the Dissertation Committee during which the student describes and defends all aspects of his/her proposal. The student must be able to explain his/her research in the context of the historical development of the research discipline; relate his/her project to ongoing research in his/her field, and must demonstrate a thorough command of the literature relevant to the research. Normally, the Second Examination takes place upon completion of 60 credits, and requires approximately 2 hours.

The Dissertation Committee will require that the student rectify any errors in the research plan or address specific inadequacies in the literature review through a retake of all or a portion of the exam as specified by the Dissertation Committee no more than 12 months from the date of the first attempt.

III. Third Examination (Oral Defense of the Dissertation)

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