SS 125 – Geography of the Pacific Islands/Spring 2002


Instructor:  Mariana Ben-Dereas                                                                     

Office Hours: 2:00 – 3:00PM (daily)

COM-FSM/Social Science Division/F102                                                           

or by appointment: 320-2480/ext. 4510    




1.       To assist the students in acquiring general concepts of geography and supporting geographical facts of the Pacific area. 


2.       It’s objective is the physical, cultural, political and economic survey of the Pacific region. 


3.       It surveys the world importance, geographical characteristics and major problems of the Pacific, the earth’s largest single geographic feature. 




1.       The regional concept of

a.       Melanesia

b.       Polynesia

c.       Micronesia


2.       Introduction to the fundamental concepts of basic geography and study of the Pacific.

a.        Land formation

b.       Tropical Pacific weather and climate

c.        Human impact upon the environment


3.       Historical - cultural geography of the Pacific

a.       Population and cultural diversity of the Pacific

b.       Navigation and canoe technology and pre-contact life style.

c.       Political geography of the Pacific

d.       Behavioral geography of the Pacific Basin


4.       Economic geography of the Pacific

a.       The types of economic systems, subsistence economic system, commercial economic system and planned economics of the Pacific nations and the impact of colonialism in the Pacific. 

b.       The geography of the Pacific natural resources

c.       Urban geography

d.       Post-contact economy



                Sessions will consist of lectures.  These lectures will allow room for students to have open discussions on topics from the instructor or text.  In addition to lectures, Videos will be shown throughout the semester to introduce topics or islands discussed by instructor and text.  Projects will either be assigned by the instructor or proposed by students to stimulate their understanding of the topic/course.  Such projects can be a written paper on the different Pacific regions or a 3D map of the Pacific.

In order for students to conceptualize the geography of the Pacific, map activities will be given to familiarize each student with the different Pacific islands.  Class/group discussions will be an important part of the class.  Instructor will assign topics for different groups to discuss, formulate questions, and then share with class.  There will be a unit TEST given after the completion of each Unit; a total of six tests - there will be no Final Examination.  ** If one is unable to make in-class test/examination, a full 24-hour notice to the instructor should be given.  The instructor will give further information on make-up upon the notice.



15% -- Map activities

20% -- Class Participation

10% -- Project

55% -- Test


Attendance will be according to COM-FSM policy indicated in the catalog.


REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS: The Pacific Islands: Environment & Society.   Edited by Moshe Rapaport This required textbook is available for purchase at the COM-FSM bookstore.



Weekly Schedule


Week 1

q       Map Work – getting to know the islands and regions

Note:  There will be occasional map activities throughout this semester therefore always study your maps given to you at the beginning of the semester


Week 2 to 4 – The Physical Environment:

q       Section I (pp. 3-74)

q       Kilauea #555

q       Water for your Island #548

q       Test #1 (Thursday Feb. 7th)


Week 5 to 6 – The Living Environment:

q       Section II (pp. 75-119)

q       On the Reef #601

q       Ecosystem

q       Test #2 (Thursday Feb 28th)


Week 7 to 9 – History:

q       Section III (pp. 120-179)

q       Polynesian Odyssey

q       Navigator

q       Lieweila

q       Test #3 (Thursday March 21st)


Week 10 to 12 – Culture:

q       Section IV (pp. 180-256)

q       It’s my own land, isn’t it?

q       Confused Paradise

q       Te Maori Culture – New Zealand #124

q       HOLIDAY March 28th – Easter Recess for Students

q       HOLIDAY April 2nd – Founding Day

q       Test #4 (Thursday April 11th)


Week 13 to 14 – Population:

q       Section V (pp. 257-335)

q       Marshall Islands on Prime Time

q       Test #5 (Thursday April 18th)


Week 16 to 17 – Economy:

q       Section VI (pp. 336-418)

q       Video:  Upside down economy

q       Land: Investing in our Future

q       Pacific Star

q       Test #6 (Thursday May 9th)