Purpose:
The purpose of this assignment is two-fold:  First, it
is designed to help you demonstrate the ability to gather and critically evaluate information related to the first Core Learning Outcome (CLO) for this course, which is: Describe and identify the basic characteristics of North American regions. Second, it is also designed to help you demonstrate the ability achieve the third CLO for this course, which is: Analyze the characteristics, distribution and cultural complexity of North American populations. In addition, it is intended to help develop and assess your ability to achieve Park’s Liberal Education Literacy #1: Analytical and Critical Thinking, as well as Literacy #6: Interdisciplinary and Integrative Thinking.  Therefore, this assignment consists of two parts, each designed to support these stated learning outcomes.

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Instructions for Part 1:
For the first part of this assignment you are being asked to compare and contrast four (4) of the regions of North America as presented by the course textbook (Birdsall et al., Regional Landscapes of the United States and Canada, 7th edition).  While you are welcome to choose from any of the regions presented in this textbook, at least two (2) of them must clearly include parts of Canada (e.g., “Canada’s National Core,” “The Bypassed East,” etc.)

 

 

 

You must compare and contrast the regions you have chosen by creating two (2) separate Venn diagrams in a Microsoft PowerPoint document.  As you hopefully already know, Venn diagrams are used to simultaneously show how two (or more) objects are both similar (i.e., how they compare) and how they are different (i.e., how they contrast).  If you are unfamiliar with Venn diagrams, an example can be found at the following link: http://www.louisianavoices.org/unit8/edu_unit8_venn_diagrams.html(Note: In our case, each “item” is simply a “region”).  Each Venn diagram should be placed on a separate slide in your PowerPoint document. 

 

 

 

Again, each Venn diagram must include 2 different regions that you have selected from those presented in our course textbook.  For each region you must state at least three (3) things that are unique about it (i.e., characteristics that apply to one, but not the other).  In the overlapping part of the Venn diagram, you must state at least three (3) characteristics that both of the regions share.  Since the focus of CLO#3 concerns the analysis of the cultural complexity of North America, however, it is required that each of characteristics you choose to identify in your comparison/contrast statements pertain specifically to some aspect of the human/cultural features of the regions.  In other words, you should not include traits/characteristics that pertain only to the physical geography of the region (such as climate, topography, etc.). 

 

 

 

In order to construct a Venn diagram on a PowerPoint slide, simply insert two circles and arrange them so that they partially overlap in the middle.  Then, right-click on the overlapping circle, select “Format Shape” from the menu of options, and change the “transparency” of the fill to some middle value (e.g., 50%).  That’s it!  Then, simply insert text boxes in the appropriate section of the diagram to add your statements on the unique and shared characteristics of each region.

 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTES: In identifying “unique” traits of a region, specific numbers (such as the exact population total) do NOT qualify as “unique” characteristics, since obviously these numbers are almost certainly going to be different for any region.  That said, you should try to utilize statistics (such as percentages), if available, which can be used as “benchmarks” to help define the extent to which the human/cultural characteristic applies to the region.  For example, it would be ideal to state how much of the population in the region speaks a particular language, or practices a particular type of religion, or works in a certain type of economic activity, etc.   Also, since this part of the assignment specifically requires that you compare and contrast 4 regions as given by our textbook, it is acceptable for you to only use the textbook itself to serve as a primary source of information for these Venn diagrams.  However, you should cite the page number from the textbook on which you found the information you used as the basis for each stated characteristic/trait.  In addition, you should be sure to include a proper bibliographic citation for the textbook on your “works cited” slide at the end of your PowerPoint document.

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions for Part 2:
Based on the information learned through class and/or additional research, you are to propose your OWN set of CULTURAL regions for North America.  You are welcome to propose as many as you would like, but at minimum, you must include at least five (5).  Although the regions do not have to cover the entire land area of the North American “continent,” they must clearly include significant portions of both the USA and Canada.  In addition, you are welcome to consider including parts of Mexico, Greenland, or other areas outside of the official boundaries of the USA and Canada, since “North America” is not necessarily limited to just those two countries (despite how our textbook treats it).

 

 

 

While you are certainly welcome (and encouraged) to be as creative as possible in identifying potential cultural regions in North America, you may find it easiest to simply start with any of those presented by our textbook authors (Birdsall et al.), or any of the others that have been presented to you in class (e.g., Garreau, de Blij, Jordan, McKnight, Hardwick et al., Zelinsky, etc.), and then modify them as you see fit.  Keep in mind, however, that you should clearly demonstrate evidence of your own personal critical thinking and analysis, so your regions should not be “carbon copies” of those presented by others—they should clearly reflect your own personal attempt to break down and reassemble in a different way the cultural/human characteristics of North America.

 

 

 

Just as importantly, remember that your set of regions must explicitly be based on cultural/human characteristics.  You may choose whatever combination of cultural traits or practices you feel are most appropriate to distinguish your regions, but you must clearly identify a minimum of at least two (2) different specific human/cultural traits to define each of your cultural regions of North America.

 

 

 

To complete this portion of the assignment, you must add an additional slide to your PowerPoint presentation (following your Venn diagrams).  On this slide, you must include a blank map of North America on which you must draw shapes that indicate the areal extent of each of the five cultural regions you have identified.  Be aware, however, that you should try to be as detailed as possible in indicating the “boundaries” of your regions.  In other words, you should NOT use simple shape objects (such as circles or ovals), but rather, you should use the “Freeform” shape tool.  In addition, you are encouraged to try to illustrate the “fuzzy” nature of regional boundaries by using dashed-lines, etc.  NOTE: If you prefer, you are welcome to hand draw your regional map, instead, and then scan it and insert the image on your slide.

 

 

 

You must then label, on the map, each of the cultural regions you have included with a creative and descriptive name.  Remember that the best regional names refer directly to the most significant “defining” trait/characteristic of the region.   You are welcome to consider names that may be commonly used by people in the area, however, you should strive to consider ways to enhance them.  You should also strive to avoid simply using the regional names used by our textbook authors (most of which aren’t particularly creative).  In a nutshell, you should strive to think “outside the box” and not simply regurgitate regions and regional names that have been given by someone else (unless you feel you have a compelling reason for doing so).

 

 

 

Following your slide with your map showing all of your regions, you should insert a slide for each cultural region that you have included (in most cases this will mean 5 additional slides).  On each slide you are to provide a summary description of each of the regions.  Each description must be at least 75 words in length and should provide an explanation/“justification” for each region that you have chosen to include.  Most importantly, you should clearly state the specific human/cultural traits (at least 2) that you are using as the basis for defining the region.  You may then highlight any additional considerations you used for identifying the region…such as special notes regarding the areas that are included, why you chose it, what you think its significance is to North America as a whole, etc.  Please remember that you should cite any sources that you use to help you with your descriptions of each of these regions.

 

 

 

Finally, you should conclude your PowerPoint with a “Works Cited” slide.

 

 

PowerPoint Two slide

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