'Geography of Africa' to be offered in spring

"Geography of Africa" aims to expose students to the spatial and cultural diversity found on the African continent.
"Geography of Africa" aims to expose students to the spatial and cultural diversity found on the African continent.

Victoria Alapo has always wondered why geography courses about the vast, diverse African continent aren't offered at more colleges and universities.

So she took matters into her own hands.

"I discussed it with Dr. Merchant, our department chair, in early 2012," said Alapo, a geography doctoral student. "He was very excited about the idea and the rest is history."

Alapo, a native of Nigeria, first offered and taught the class in the spring of 2013.

"Judging from the excitement of the students who took the class during that semester and from what they said they learned from it, I consider it a success," she said. "I am excited that we are offering it again and hope that we will continue to do so in the future."

The course, "Geography of Africa" (GEOG 398), is cross-listed as an ethnic studies course, ETHN 398.

The three-credit course is scheduled weekly on Mondays from 5-7:50 p.m. in Avery Hall 111 and does not require any prerequisites.

"The great thing is that anyone can sign up for it from any department," Alapo said. "This course is unique because the geography of Africa is not commonly taught in many institutions of higher learning, so this is a great opportunity for students."

The course will provide an overview of the major physical and human landscapes in Africa. Prominent past and current events will be placed into a spatial context, giving students insight into the interrelationships that exist among people, cultures, countries, economies and the environment – not only within Africa, but between Africa and the rest of the world.

"As a result of our living in a globalized world, we cannot afford to continue to live in the imaginary 'self-made cocoon' that many in the U.S. have lived in for so long," Alapo said. "We now know that what happens elsewhere is vitally important to what happens to us here in the U.S. I'm excited to be able to share my knowledge of the continent with students."

Any UNL student interested in the course can enroll via MyRED. Priority Registration for the 2014 spring semester begins Oct. 28 and goes through Nov. 12. Open Registration then begins Nov. 13 and goes through Jan. 12.

"If you've always wanted to have a balanced, geographic perspective on this vast, multicultural continent, this is a great opportunity to enroll," Alapo said.

— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources