The course is included in the program of DPRD because it contributes decisively, through the concepts and methods used by the geography science, in the necessary knowledge and tools needed for the first year student to understand the concept of space. More specifically it aims at unfolding the logic which identifies the organization and systems of space but also the methods and tools for spatial analysis. It falls within the broader scope of spatial analysis.
The course aims to familiarize students with the fundamental dimensions of space both as an urban as well as a rural reality. To achieve this, environmental experience is interpreted through its economic, social and political quantities that have produced the morphology perceived. The extensive variety of paradigmatic cases of urban and rural landscapes presented in the classes generate a discussion that teaches students to decode information that normally lies behind the evident. This is further encouraged in the challenging project in which students are asked to approach, analyze and present everything important concerning an urban neighbourhood in a refugee quarter of Volos. The aim is for them to achieve the understanding of the manner in which the built environment has been shaped both in the past and today and to be able to visualize existing overt and hidden tension as well as the area’s potential for development in the future.
The learning objectives of the course are:
to familiarize students with the geography science through its evolution, the various basic geographical schools, its contribution to the approach and analysis of the space and its relation to spatial planning.
to recognize the interdisciplinary dimension of information that can ensure the geographical approach based on the affinities and complementarities with other disciplines (economy, history, sociology, agronomy, geology, etc.)
to select and combine concepts (spatial forms and functions, complex structures, scales, landscape, spatial systems, region, etc.), methods and tools (local search, map, three-dimensional representations of space etc) of geography to approach and spatial analysis
to read and interpret maps, charts, and to examine the spatial dimensions of the phenomena
to discover the contribution of three-dimensional illustrations into analysis, synthesis and evaluation of spatial structures and systems,
to distinguish and explain the spatial dimension of the space organization systems via the subdivision into subsystems and determining the positions in space of its components (elements), and finally
to acquire the ability to act in the field, analyzing and correlating various spatial phenomena at many levels of organization of everyday life.
Students learn how to organize an analytical project while at the same time learning to operate in groups. The particular learning objective relates to the understanding of team work and team assessment with all the complexities involved. Due to the nature of the module, most of the work is performed under the close supervision of the tutorial staff. At the end of the semester, the understanding of the basic principles of the social production of space are tested individually.
The course consists of two parts, Understanding space on the one hand and Geography on the other. The first part focuses mostly on the urban while the second focuses on the rural environment approaching it at the scale of village, town and region. Throughout the module, the approach is based on the man’s perceptual experience of both the urban and the rural environment thus placing the interest on local communities and man in general. Understanding space is achieved through the presentation and discussion on the lectures by tutors and the field project conducted by students. It is finally made clear that it is a question of understanding place rather than understanding space as the notion of ‘place’ is a social construct and getting to know it incorporates the qualities of human society.
After these concepts are dealt with, the issue of Geography is approached as follows:
Introduction to the object of Geography (Natural, Anthropogenic space)
The historical evolution of science and geographical thought. The various basic schools
Basic concepts and methods in the Geography science
Methods and basic tools in spatial analysis
Basics of geographical analysis (Points (pole), Lines (flows, networks), surfaces (grids and property management), forms and functions, and complex structures.
* Introduction to Cartography (scales, projection systems, contour, etc.)
* Introduction to Thematic Cartography, geography distributions, using statistical data to produce maps, landscape view on a map
* Tools representation of space,
Structures and systems in space organization (J.-H. Thünen, W. Christaller)
Poles – polarities and centrality – centers (residential, educational system, etc)
Spatial systems and subsystems (Occupancy, land use, forms of land appropriation and exploitation, management and networks, quantitative and qualitative evaluation of systems)
Student work presentation
The course includes:
a) lectures by tutors,
b) lectures on specialized topics by specialized experts (cartography, spatial representations, GIS)
c) collective work in small groups which are presented and evaluated in the classroom
d) coaching of the personnel of Laboratory for Rural Space that introduce students to new techniques on the representation of space,
e) field trips (city, countryside)
Participation in classes
Projects are assessed and discussed by all students in the class. Marking is accessible to everyone through the course’s site. Evaluation criteria are known at the beginning of the course.
Antrop M., 2004. "Landscape change and the urbanization process in Europe", Landscape and Urban Planning 67, Elsevier, 9-26