Geography 14

Santa Monica College Fall 2014
Instructor: W. A. Selby  Section 2378
Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:50, HSS 203

From rocks to skyscrapers, deserts to redwoods, wilderness to enormous urban centers, you will notice more diversity in California's natural and cultural landscapes than in most countries. It is the perfect place to study regional geography!

General Goals and Requirements

  • Text: Rediscovering the Golden State: California Geography. by William A. Selby. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 2013 (3rd Ed). ISBN#: 1-118-45204-6. My book is available at our bookstore and should be on line as an eText. You will find an informative supporting web site at with California maps, images, links, photo galleries, and sample quiz questions for each chapter.
  • Approach: Class lectures and activities will often extend beyond the scope of the reading and map assignments. However, we will discuss all reading material for each class session; you are expected to ask questions, make comments, corrections and updates. We will also discuss current events, trends, and problems in CA. Every class activity is geared toward the learning experience. Attend class, ask questions, and participate!
  • Contact Info/Office Hours: Feel free to visit me especially before or after class or by appointment. My office is DH 314K, Office Hours: M W 2:15-3:30 and T 12:45-2pm and 5:15-6:15, (310) 434-4743,
    Web Page:
  • Field Trips: You are encouraged to attend at least one of our optional field trips this semester. Dates: They include our full weekend trip to the Whitewater Preserve on Oct. 24-26 and two local one-day trips on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11 and 12 to places such as the Santa Monica Mountains. We will study coastal, mountain, desert and human landscapes and the forces and processes that are shaping them, including natural and human history. To get details, click Geog 35 on my home page.
  • Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
    What can students do, think, or know as a result of their studies in this class?
    Students will be able to evaluate California’s diverse physical and human landscapes and understand the forces that are changing them. Students will be able to make connections between the places and events that define California so that they can identify issues and apply this knowledge to solve problems. Students will have a better understanding of the diversity and change that make California unique.
    What can students do, think, or know as a result of their studies within the more general geography program?
    Students will be able to identify spatial patterns and interrelationships between systems and cycles that affect life and shape landscapes. Students will demonstrate cartographic literacy, including map interpretation and, using spatial analysis skills, will be able to analyze, recognize and evaluate spatial distributions on all scales from local to global  to become better global citizens.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Make sure you are confident of what to do during an emergency in our classroom. Visit this site to make sure you are prepared for any emergency in our class or on campus:

Grading Policy

  • Exams: We will have four 100+ point exams, including the final. (Your final will consist of a regular exam, but with a few questions from previous sections.) That's a total of about 400+ test points. Exams will be scored objectively by points and will include many different types of questions. YOU MUST NOT MISS THE EXAMS! Dates are on the class schedule. Attendance and participation may also be evaluated. The total possible for this course is just more than 420 points, including your papers/projects worth a total of 20 points (see below).
  • Research Paper: You are required to present a three-page (typed) paper about what you think is an important or interesting place or subject related to the geography of California, including information that was NOT covered in the book. This report will focus on a specific place or on California people, events, or processes. It must be written in your own words and you MUST list your sources. You may share your discovery(ies) with the class during the last week, but the paper is due Dec 2.. This project is worth 20 points.
  • Extra Credit: Do you want to extend your learning experience beyond the scope of this class? Choose a current article out of a reputable professional publication, make a copy of that article, and type a one page summary/abstract on that article. I will not accept extra credit after Dec 2 and I will accept only one extra credit from any student during any calendar month. Make sure your article pertains to topics in CA geography. There are a variety of good journals to choose from in our library and in the UCLA library. All articles must be no older than 2014 publications. You may receive up to 7 points for an excellent extra credit report and you may do no more than 4 extra credits for this course (see above). Remember, this extra credit is optional. Another method to earn all your extra credit points is to complete a service learning option and hand in a written summary of your learning experience, which we will discuss in class.

Keys to Success

  • It is assumed that you have what is required for success in college, including basic reading and writing skills.
  • Attend class regularly and on time.
  • Stay alert, participate in class and take good notes.
  • Ask questions when you are confused or uncertain or just curious.
  • Keep up with all reading.

Important Responsibilities

  • Adds/Drops: YOU are responsible for any personal enrollment changes.
  • Classroom: All SMC rules of conduct apply in our class. No food or drink is allowed in class and no cell phones or any other electronic devices are to be used without instructor's consent. 
  • Academic Honesty: Any student who cheats in this class will earn a zero and be subject to serious disciplinary action. Ask me if you have questions about this.
  • Course Schedule: The following schedule is subject to change. Keep up!



  • 2:  Chap. 1 Introducing Geography and the Golden State
  • 4: Chap 1 continued...Getting to Know the Golden State
  • 9 and 11: Chap. 1 cont. Exploring California's Regions
  • 16: Chap. 2 Geologic Processes, Geologic History of CA
  • 18: Chap. 3 Modern Geomorphology
  • 23: Chap. 3 Modern Geomorphology - continued
  • 25: EXAM NO. 1 - All material since September 2.
  • 30: Chap.4: Weather and Climate


  • 2: Chap 4 Weather and Climate continued
  • 7: Chap. 5 Introduction to Biogeography
  • 9: Chap. 5 Plants and Animals Continued
  • 14: Chap. 6 Hydrology, Water Resources
  • 16: Chap. 6 Water Policy and Soils 
  • 21: EXAM NO. 2 - All material since September 25.
  • 23:  Chap. 7 Human History and Demographics of CA
  • 28: Chap. 7 cont. Population and Migration
  • 30: Chap. 8 Ethnic Groups


  • 4: Chap. 8 cont. Cultures and Lifestyles
  • 6: Chap. 9:  Economic Geography of California
  • 11: Veteran's Day Holiday: No Class
  • 13: Chap. 9 cont. Primary Industries-Rural Landscapes
  • 18: EXAM NO. 3 - All material since October 21.
  • 20: Chap. 10 Modern, Advanced and Urban Economies
  • 25: Chap. 10 Modern, Advanced Economies continued
  • 27: Thanksgiving Holiday: No Class  
  • Read Chap. 11: Urban Landscapes


  • 2: Chap. 11 continued...Urban California
  • 4: Chap 12 California's Coast, Applied Geography
  • 9: Chap 12. More Applied Geography, Current Events
  • 11: Student Research Presentations and the Future California
  • 18th: Thursday, 8AM:  FINAL EXAM - 8 AM.