Department of Geography and the Environment

Jayme Walenta

LecturerPh.D., University of British Columbia

Jayme Walenta


  • Office: CLA 3.422
  • Office Hours: Wednesdays 9 - 11 am
  • Campus Mail Code: A3100


Economic Geography, Feminist Geography, Environment and Business Relations


Dr. Walenta studies how economic institutions shape human-environment interactions. Broadly, she is concerned by how economic growth and environmental protection are made mutually compatible. Her current research examines this forged compatibility as it relates to the business response to climate change. At the moment, she is investigating the varied technical devices and calculation practices used to commodify climate change and make it commensurable with business logics.  An example of this is the corporate carbon footprint, a calculation tool that renders climate change impacts knowable and manageable for companies. The origins for this research derive from her experience as a carbon management consultant, a role she took on following her Ph.D., and from her longstanding interest in how businesses integrate an environmental ethic into their everyday practice.

As a teacher, Jayme strives to create participatory and experiential learning moments for her students, getting them involved in the learning process through hands on, field-oriented research projects.  Doing this shifts the site where academic knowledge is produced and applied. Jayme also prioritizes integrating critical theory into the classroom to demonstrate that human geographical phenomenon, such as globalization and de-industrialization, are inextricably linked to race, class and gender. This exposes students to a diversity of viewpoints, and asks them to consider questions of equity and justice. 


GRG 306C • Conservation

37385 • Fall 2017
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM SZB 330


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 374 • Frontiers In Geography

37524 • Fall 2017
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM MEZ 2.124

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 333K • Climate Change

37340 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SZB 524

With the release of each Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, it becomes more patently clear that climate change poses one of the greatest scientific, political, social, and ethical challenges of our time. This course will investigate these challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective, paying specific attention to how the science of climate change works, the role of humans in accelerating climate change, the implications of climatic change on human populations, and policies aimed at addressing it. Ultimately, we will build towards developing the expertise to critically evaluate future climate scenarios using environmental and socio-cultural approaches. My goal for you is that you view climate change as more than a scientific issue, to be resolved simply through technical means. I want for you to see the challenge of climate change, both the scientific and the policy aspects, from a multi-dimensional and complex perspective.

GRG 342C • Sustainable Development

37380 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM JGB 2.202

This course examines the powerful, contested, and endlessly debated concept of sustainable development. “Sustainability” has come to mean many things to many different entities. Most identify it through the trifecta of environmental protection, economic equality, and social justice. Similarly, the term “development” carries its own complex and contested meaning. Despite these contestations, sustainable development continues to be the key idea around which environment related development is structured today. While many sustainable development courses take the economy as a starting point, emphasizing economic notions of development, we will depart from this convention, and instead use the environment as our starting point. Discussions of social justice and economic access will reflect back onto environmental issues. After an introductory section of the course where themes such as theories of development, definitions of sustainability, and explorations of ethics, overpopulation, and governance are discussed, we will take on specific sustainable development challenges as they concern climate change, biodiversity and forests, hydrocarbons, water and agriculture. We conclude the course with a consideration of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and other calls to action to implement and achieve development through sustainable means. 

GRG 374 • Frontiers In Geography

37470 • Spring 2017
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM CLA 0.108

This upper-level undergraduate capstone level course requires students to successfully complete a research project that assembles and integrates knowledge and skills acquired across your university career. Students are expected to work independently, with minimal supervision by the professor. The topic for the 2017 spring term will be to investigate food access and food security in the Austin, TX area. Final projects are intended to contribute to a multi-dimensional investigation of food access in the area by mapping food deserts, food accessibility, and food security. By mapping, I mean both the literal visual documentation using geo-spatial technologies that you are accustomed to, as well as creating an archive of the area’s food security through interviews with key community members. You will have the option to work in groups or individually. Projects will be customized to account for group numbers. 

GRG 356T • The Gendered City

37800 • Fall 2009
Meets M 4:00PM-7:00PM GRG 312

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