Department of Geography and the Environment

GRG 301C • The Natural Environment

37220-37260 • Polk, Mary
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BEL 328
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Geomorphic processes that shape the earth's surface; origin and evolution of landforms. Groundwater and water resources. Pedogenesis and soil properties. 

Designed to accommodate 100 or more students.

A one-day field trip to be arranged.

GRG 301K • Weather And Climate

37265 • Kimmel, Troy
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM SAC 1.402
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Course Description

An introductory look at weather and climate, this course will include a thorough discussion of atmospheric processes, clouds, precipitation (types), air masses, frontal boundaries, introductory discussions of severe local storms (and their offspring) and tropical cyclones as well as the climatology of these weather systems. Also included will be a brief introduction to the Koppen Climatic Classification System along with discussions of climatological processes, regimes, and climate change.


GRG 304E • Envir Sci: A Changing World

37275-37305 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAI 4.42
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Surveys the major global environmental concerns affecting the Earth and its residents from the perspectives of the environmental sciences. 

May be counted toward the writing flag requirement. May be counted toward the quantitative reasoning flag requirement.

Restricted to students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program.

GRG 305 • This Human World: Intro To Grg

37310-37380 • Adams, Paul
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 21
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Course Description

This course focuses on learning why things are where they are and the processes that underlie spatial patterns. These processes are fundamentally cultural: they involve a complex mix of folk culture, popular culture, communication, religion, demography, industry and urbanization, so the course touches on all of these topics. The course also looks at the indications of human-induced environmental changes, including pollution, resource depletion, and the transformation of ecosystems. It concludes with an introduction to the range of career opportunities for people with training in geography.

Grading Policy

Final grades will be based on a combination of three exams (worth approximately 45% of the total grade), three projects (worth approximately 25% of the total grade) and participation (worth approximately 30% of the total grade).

GRG 306C • Conservation

37385 • Walenta, Jayme
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM SZB 330
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Introduction to environmental management, with emphasis on the major causes and consequences of environmental degradation. The course is organized around the premise that people cannot solve environmental problems unless they know how and why they occur; a major objective is to identify and understand the sociocultural forces that drive environmental degradation.

GRG 307C • Introduction To Urban Studies

37390 • Heyman, Richard
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM UTC 1.104
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A multidisciplinary study of cities and complex urban environments; historical and contemporary issues from both national and international perspectives.

May be counted toward the cultural diversity flag requirement.

Meets core curriculum requirement for Social & Behavioral Science (I).

Same-as URB 301

GRG 309C • Creating Sustainable Socty

37395 • Swearingen, William
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BEL 328
(also listed as SOC 309C)
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The course will offer students an overview of sustainability as something human beings must strive to create in an era of global warming and ever greater social inequalities; both between countries and within countries.   The focus of the course will revolve around the core issues of sustainability:  what does sustainability mean?  Why do we need to remake human societies in more sustainable ways?  And what does social equity have to do with sustainability?  One of the problems we have in teaching about sustainability today is our focus on two of the "E's" without much attention to the third.  We talk mostly about Environment, secondly about Economy, and then tend to pay short shrift to Equity.  This course will address all three, but put a greater focus on Equity than is usual.  The course will be taught from a social sciences perspective, which approaches human relationships with the natural world (Environment) in the context of their relationships with each other (Environment and Equity).  Global warming (environment) is main reason we are talking about Sustainability today, but global warming is both cause and effect of our economies and inequalities.

Required Texts

Carolan, Micheal,  Society and the Environment; Pragmatic Solutions to Ecological Issues. Westview Press, 2013.

Grading Policy

There will be three essay assignments and one group project.  Each will count 25% of the grade

GRG 326 • Regions/Cultures Of Europe

37400 • Jordan, Bella
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BUR 220
(also listed as EUS 346, REE 345)
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This course is a systematic introduction to geography of all regions of Europe, from Iceland to Sicily and European Russia and Finland to Bretagne and Galicia. The course is based on a renowned textbook by Alexander B. Murphy, Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov and Bella Bychkova Jordan and focuses on all the major aspects of the European makeup: its physical, economic, political, and cultural geography, geolinguistics and environmental issues. A special attention is given to such issues as expansion of the European Union and NATO, problems associated with immigration and ethnic tensions, challenges of multiculturalism and integration. A significant portion of the class is dedicated to the analysis of demographic, urban and agricultural patterns. The historical perspective allows the analysis of the evolution of the European civilization during the last two millennia and resulting geographical patterns in modern Europe.

Prerequisites: upper division undergraduate students


  • Alexander B. Murphy, Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov and Bella Bychkova Jordan.  The European Culture Area: A Systematic Geography, 2009, 5th edition. Rowman and Littlefield: Lanham, Boulder, CO. Available at The Co-Op and

Grading: The final grade is based on 3 exams.

GRG 333C • Severe And Unusual Weather

37405 • Kimmel, Troy
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 0.106
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The course examines the principles and techniques of atmospheric science and the applications to the study of severe and unusual weather events and patterns. This course will include a thorough examination (often in real time through the use of the internet) of thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods, hailstorms, winter storms, tropical cyclones as well as drought. In addition to study of the events themselves, a look at the climatology of severe and unusual weather across the United States, Texas as well as our own south central Texas region will be undertaken. How these atmospheric events affect human beings and how people respond to these events will also be examined.

Grading Policy

400 points possible during the semester:
Three Regular Exams (100 points each)
Attendance / Homework / Exercises (100 points total)
Attendance Taken On A Daily Basis and Used in Final Computation of Grade

GRG 333K • Climate Change

37410 • Young, Kenneth
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM CLA 0.104
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Climate Change


GRG 333K, Fall 2017

TTh 8 AM in CLA 0.104


Dr. Kenneth R. Young

Department of Geography and the Environment, UT-Austin

CLA 3.706; Office hour: Tuesday, 2 PM or by appointment


Course Description:  This course will survey the causes of changes in climatic systems over both short and long time periods and their consequences for landscape dynamics, biogeography, land use, sustainability, and vulnerability. The first part of the course will look at historical and current climate change trends and controls worldwide, including coverage of the different scientific methods used for studies of these processes. The second part of the course will evaluate the study of climates from an earth systems approach. Implications of differences in climate for carbon, biodiversity, and humans will be discussed. We will build towards developing the expertise to critically evaluate future climate scenarios using environmental and socio-ecological approaches.

Students are expected to read the assigned readings and participate actively in class. The exams will test knowledge, vocabulary, and ability to explain and apply information. The class projects and writing assignment will work on the ability to synthesize and communicate on scientific issues associated with climate change.


Prerequisites:  Assumes background from GRG 301C, GRG 301K, or an equivalent course.


Required textbooks:

Archer, D. 2016. The Long Thaw: How Humans are changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate. Second edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN-13: 978-0691169064

Mann, M. E. and L. R. Kump. 2016. Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change. DK Publishing, New York. ISBN-13: 978-1465433640

Sovacool, B.K., M. A. Brown, and S. V. Valentine. 2016. Fact and Fiction in Global Energy Policy. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. ISBN-13: 978-1421418971

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GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37415 • Polk, Mary
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM SAC 5.102
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The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

GRG 339 • Process Geomorphology

37420 • Latrubesse, Edgardo
Meets MW 8:30AM-10:00AM CLA 1.402
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Analysis of geomorphic processes and their effects on landform development. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing, and credit or registration for Geography 301C or Geological Sciences 401.

GRG 341K • Landscps Of Mex & Carib Amer

37425 • Doolittle, William
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM CLA 0.128
(also listed as LAS 330)
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The natural regions and cultural landscapes of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. 

GRG 344K • Global Food, Farming, & Hunger

37435 • Torres, Rebecca
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 308
(also listed as LAS 330)
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Examination of contemporary transformations in global agro-food systems, with emphasis on the current paradox of epidemic obesity in some parts of the world and enduring hunger in others. 

GRG 356 • Children's Envirnmntl Hlth

37440 • Elkins, Jules
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM CLA 1.108
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Please check back for updates.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 356T • Directed Intrnshps In Urb Stds

37445 • Akins, Erick
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM CLA 0.128
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GRG 356T • Geog Religion E Europe/Russia

37448 • Jordan, Bella
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GAR 3.116
(also listed as R S 357, REE 345)
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Course description: This course is designed to give a comprehensive understanding of major religious culture regions in the former Eastern bloc countries. In the post-socialist period some of these societies are experiencing religious revival and others display high degrees of secularization. The course will focus on the analysis of such processes, including religious revival in the former Soviet republics, political and historical roots of divergence of Christian denominations in Central and Eastern Europe, Russian protestant movements like Old Believers and Dukhobors, traditional Islam in the Balkans and North Caucasus, Lamaist Buddhist traditions among Buryats and Tuvans of Siberia, and resurfacing of neo-paganistic and neo-shamanistic practices.

This course will discuss the most important features of these religious regions, such as religious art and architecture, most important beliefs and rituals, political and cultural reverberations of such practices for people, residing in these regions.


Global Cultures Flag:

This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.


Basis for the grade:

  1. Students must take 2 exams, each worth 25% of the totals grade. Exams will contain Multiple Choice questions, short questions, a take-home essay and a map question. The exams will be of the same format.
  2. Students will write a term paper, worth 30% of the final grade. The paper must be 10-12 pages long, double-spaced, typed in 12-point font. The bibliography should contain scholarly publications, including books and articles from peer-reviewed journals. Worth 30% of the final grade.
  3.  Working in a team of 2 or 3, students will prepare an oral presentation on a topic related to the term paper and approved by the instructor. The presentation’s length should not exceed 15 minutes.  20% of the grade.


Course materials: course package, media sources, video clips, films


Examples of topics for discussion:

1) The Great Schism of 1054 and Resulting Religious Regions in Europe

2) Reformation and Protestant groups in Eastern Europe

3) The Legacies of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires

4) The Shatter Zone: Balkan Religious and Ethnic Identities

5) The Great Schism of 1667 and Major Splinter Groups: Old Believers, Dukhobors,

Molokane, Kristovery and other Russian Protestants

6) Eastern Orthodox Church in Armenia and Georgia

7) Vestiges of Paganism in the Baltic Countries

8) Religious Revival in Post-Soviet Russia

9) Religious Identities in Contemporary Russia

10) Major Muslim Peoples of Russia: Tradition and Innovation

11) Islam in the North Caucasus and Dagestanization of the Volga region

12) Lamaist Buddhist Ethnic Republics of the Russian Federation

13) Siberian Shamanism: Introduction to Theory and Practice

14) Siberian Shamanism: the Flight of the Sacred

15) Religious Art, Philosophy and Literature

16) Leo Tolstoy and Fedor Dostoevsky on Christianity

17) Religious Architecture and Sacred Spaces

18) Religious Festivals and Pilgrimages

19) Religious Revival portrayed in Russian Cinema

20) Russian Orthodox Church Portrayal in Zvyagintsev ‘Leviathan’

GRG 356T • Geoprocessing

37450 • Arima, Eugenio
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM CLA 1.404
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GRG 356T • Gis/Rem Sns Archaeol/Paleo

37462 • Reed, Denne
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM CLA 1.404
(also listed as ANT 324L)
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Overview: This course surveys archeological and paleontological applications of GIS and remote sensing data such as digital maps, aerial photography and satellite imagery for use in locating field sites, planning field logistics and conducting landscape analysis.

The GIS component of the course builds on the remote sensing component and adds to it the analysis of map fea- tures stored in databases. The course introduces databases theory and practice, and moves through the various stages of GIS workflow: the planning and design of GIS projects, building geospatial datasets, various methods of geospa- tial analysis and a short introduction to map layouts and reports. The remote sensing component of the course covers remote sensing data acquisition, image georectification, image processing and classification.

The course covers GIS and remote sensing from an applied perspective and students are expected to invest lab time in completing tutorials on GIS and RS methods as well as applying these methods to individual projects.

Prerequisites and Expectations: The course is designed to compliment ANT 324L Digital Data Systems in Archeology, which has a greater emphasis on data acquisition and field methods. This is NOT an introductory course in GIS and remote sensing. This is an accelerated course is GIS and RS fundamentals. There are no en- forced prerequisites, but students should have a comfortable working knowledge of computers and an introductory GIS or remote sensing course is recommended but not required. 

GRG 356T • Human Health & Environment

37465 • Elkins, Jules
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CLA 1.102
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Please check back for updates.

GRG 356T • Mapping In Storytelling

37455 • Thoren, Thomas
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BMC 3.208
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GRG 356T • Society Of Modern Mexico

37460 • Ward, Peter
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 1.104
(also listed as LAS 325, MAS 374, SOC 335, URB 354)
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Family, community, industrialization, and urbanization in modern Mexico.

GRG 357 • Medical Geography

37470 • Elkins, Jules
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM SZB 330
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The geographic distribution, expansion, and contraction of the infectious diseases that have the greatest influence in shaping human societies today: malaria, AIDS, and others. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 366K • Biogeography

37505 • Young, Kenneth
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BEN 1.126
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GRG 366K, Fall 2017

TTh 3:30 PM, BEN 1.126


Dr. Kenneth R. Young

Department of Geography and the Environment, UT-Austin

Office hours: Tuesday, 2 PM or by appointment; CLA 3.422


Course description:

This course introduces biogeography, the discipline that attempts to document and explain the changing distributions of plants and animals. Explanations come from the study of current ecological processes and from historical perspectives on past Earth-system changes in relation to evolutionary processes. In addition, there are many applications for biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. We will put equal emphasis on ecological, evolutionary, and conservation biogeography. 

Students are expected to read the assigned readings and participate actively in class.  The exams will test knowledge, vocabulary, and ability to explain and apply information.  The independent essay will be an opportunity to develop technical writing skills.



Assumes background from GRG 301C or an equivalent course, for example in the biological or geological sciences.


Required textbook:

M.V. Lomolino et al. 2016.  Biogeography. Fifth edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA (ISBN-13: 978-1605354729)

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GRG 368C • Spatial Anly/Geograph Info Sys

37510 • Miller, Jennifer
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 1.402
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In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics.

GRG 373F • Field Techniques

37515 • Doolittle, William
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM CLA 3.102
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Geographers sitting in their offices frequently find themselves lacking the right type of data to deal with a specific problem at hand. This is the case for practitioners holding a bachelor's degree and working in the private sector as well as for academicians holding doctoral degrees and teaching at comprehensive research universities. For example, a geographer employed by a firm designing a retirement community may be faced with a problem such as assessing a series of possible sites on which to build the swimming pool. Maps and aerial photographs may be available, but do they contain sufficiently detailed information about the soils, geology, slope, vegetation, hydrology, and cultural features such as historic structures, wells, fences or walls? And, how are these items or conditions spatially distributed in absolute terms and relative to each other? Or, consider a scholar investigating the expansion cacao cultivation in the rainforests of southern Brazil. How does she or he distinguish fields from forest? Cacao, after all, is a tree which grows in the shade of taller trees, and, accordingly, farmers do not clear-cut the forest before planting their crop. And, what about the composition(s) of the "natural" environment(s) and that (those) of the fields? What about the sizes and shapes of the fields, and socio-economic characteristics of the farmers? The only way to get these data are to go into "the field," and to use certain techniques.

This course introduces advanced geography students to a number of various techniques used in gathering field data. It does not deal with every technique nor does it go into great detail on any one.  It does, however, offer the basics of certain types of data collection, and, in so doing, it provides a foundation on which more advanced study--either formally through other classes, or informally through self-training--can be undertaken.

The course is divided into two parts, each dealing with different types of techniques, and each with different levels of supervision.  The first part of the course deals with mapping, the most fundamental of geographic activities. Students learn how to collect data with a clearly spatial dimensions. They begin by using some very simple instruments and progress to using the latest electronic surveying equipment. Emphasis is placed on mapping small areas largely because data at this scale are usually what geographers do not already possess, and, therefore, need. Also, working at this scale gives students a first-hand appreciation for, or at least a "taste" of, the processes involved in collecting data portrayed on existing maps of various scales. Instruction during this first half of the semester is very focused; students are closely supervised.

The second part of the course focuses on the collection of various types of environmental data that can be mapped. Emphasis here is placed on both "natural" data used most often, but not exclusively, by so-called "physical geographers," and "cultural" data commonly used by so-called "human geographers." Also, techniques for determining past as well as current conditions are covered in order for students to assess changing geographies. Instruction during the second half of the semester is less supervised than in the first half. Students are given a great deal of liberty to hone their skills at making professional judgements.

The focus of this course is on landscapes, especially those that are material and visible. Instruction includes some classroom lectures and several outdoor exercises. This course involves hands-on experience. Students can expect to be hot, cold, dirty, and wet, and exposed to some health risks. Research methods, project formulation, laboratory data analyses, and cartography are not be part of this course. This course deals exclusively with outdoor data collection techniques.

GRG 374 • Frontiers In Geography

37524 • Walenta, Jayme
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM MEZ 2.124
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Course Objective and Subjects

The primary objective of this course is to provide you a ‘working understanding’ of the contemporary nature of Geography, which means I am interested in considering Geography as it is practiced. My department expects this course, Frontiers in Geography, to be a ‘capstone’ experience, although none of us really knows what that means. It can be interpreted in a variety of ways and the faculty of our department have tried many of them while teaching this course, based to a great extent upon their own respective personal and academic histories, styles, personalities, and general sense of what is important and what is not. None of them are wrong.

The route I have chosen is a ‘working understanding’, which it is hoped, will complement and supplement what you have been studying for these last few years.

I begin with the simplest of questions—What is Geography?—and then provide a set of fundamentals that will help answer the question, thus providing a ‘working’ understanding:

 It is a set of concepts

 It is a frame for study

 It is a discipline

 It is a university subject

 It is a job

1)  Concepts. In this section we provide an overview of the nature of the discipline—“what are the fundamental precepts that define Geography?” To some extent this is a summary and gathering together of ideas that surround what you have been doing for the last few years as a Geography major. At the same time it is my opportunity to stress my favorite geo-concept: Place, perhaps along with space, its little stepsister.

2) Frame. We use these concepts to help frame our study of geographic processes, especially in terms of the patterns of human activity. Such a framing will help illuminate the essences of these processes.  For the purposes of this class we will focus primarily on ‘place’ in research focused on the example of tourism. The focus of your final capstone paper and most of your readings will be here, therefore, on the subject called “A Geography of Tourism”, framed within the concept of place.

3) Discipline. We will discuss Geography as a contemporary academic discipline in terms of its history, associations, journals, and departments.

4) University. The heart and history of a discipline begins with the university. Here we will talk about the contemporary nature of the American University, especially in this contentious political and economic era; issues of note at the national, state, and UT levels will be discussed.  We do so to understand the home of Geography, but we will spend time on issues that may not have immediate relevance to our discipline.

5) Job. Several of you will be disappointed that this course is not centered on getting you a job.  In fact, we won’t spend much time on the subject at all.  Why?  Because basically it is not within my purview; the truth be known, I don’t know much about that subject, which is true of most of my colleagues.  This goes back to our subject of the University (above); more on that later. But we will not ignore it.  We will work on your resumes, discuss ways you can aggressively engage the lousy market out there, consider issues of cover letters and interviewing, and we will bring people into the classroom who can help provide us some practicalities of the search.  We will also discuss graduate school.  Here I can help much more, although if the past is any predictor fewer than five or six of you will be immediately interested.  We’ll play that one by ear.

The discussion of these five issues will be linear in the most general sense, but because they are often so closely intertwined we will integrate them at times. Also, I cannot assign a specific amount of time for each subject—although the system often asks that I do—because we reserve the right to spend more or less time on individual subjects as we see fit, once we are there. No worries; it will work.

GRG 462K • Intro Remote Sensing Of Envir

37495-37500 • Meyer, Thoralf
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM ART 1.120
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The use of electromagnetic energy to sense objects in the natural environment; interpretation and recognition of patterns detected by sensors. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.