Joseph Holler

Assistant Professor of Geography

 work(802) 443-5992
 Fall 2019: Monday, Thursday, Friday 11:00am-12:00pm
 McCardell Bicentennial Hall 634

Dr. Holler is a human geographer and geographic information scientist. His research interests are in social vulnerability and adaptation in the context of climate change and environmental degradation. He uses geographic information systems, qualitative, participatory, and quantitative methods in his research. Holler's research intersects with work in political ecology, development geography, human dimensions of global change, and geographic information science.

Holler earned his bachelor of arts degree from Ithaca College in 2003, with majors in media studies, computer science, and anthropology/archeology. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Peace Corps in Tanzania to work in secondary schools as an information technology administrator, teacher and technician. Two years of teaching and development work inspired him to learn more about the structural causes of poverty and environmental degradation and seek out methods to address them.

Holler enrolled in the geography doctoral program and geographic information science (GIScience) IGERT doctoral fellowship at the University at Buffalo, where he integrated studies of GIScience, economic geography, and ecosystem conservation/restoration. He applied his studies in an internship with the Jane Goodall Institute and subsequently developed dissertation research on social vulnerability and adaptation on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Holler completed his degree September 2012 and started teaching human geography and GIS at the University of Mary Washington. This year he is further developing his teaching skills in Middlebury College's innovative GIS curriculum.

See more about my research, teaching, and exploring.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1547 - Water Rights and Resources      

Water as a Human Right and Fugitive Resource
Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation are now recognized by the United Nations as human rights. However, water is a "fugitive" resource with dangerous variability in its quantity and quality over space and time. How does society manage the spatial-temporal variability of the water cycle, and how does the cycle in turn shape society? We will answer these questions through comparative geographic analysis of case studies in the northeast U.S. and east Africa, drawing on evidence from maps and geographic information systems, field trip observations, survey data, published research, and water law and policy. 3 hrs. sem. CW SAF SOC

Fall 2019

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GEOG 0100 - Place And Society      

Place and Society: Local to Global
This course is an introduction to how geographers view the world and contribute to our understanding of it. Where do the phenomena of human experience occur? Why are they there? What is the significance? These questions are fundamental for explaining the world at different scales from the global to the local. Throughout, we will focus on the spatial basis of society, its continual reorganization through time, and how various human and environmental problems can be usefully analyzed from a geographic perspective. (Open only to first-year students and sophomores) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab DED SOC

Fall 2016

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GEOG 0120 / ENVS 0120 - Human Geography with GIS      

Human Geography with GIS
How do geographers study spatial interactions between people, society, and the environment? How do factors like race, ethnicity, age, and income relate to spatial cognition, movement, settlement, and social organization? How can geographic information systems (GIS) help geographers describe, understand, and explain these spatial patterns and processes? In this course we will study applications of GIS in human geography from local to global scales. Readings and case studies will introduce and contextualize methods for using mental maps, big data, regional statistics, and network models for inquiries of gerrymandering, gentrification, spatial justice, and other topics. Students will learn to gather geographic evidence, conduct analyses with GIS, and critically present results with cartographic layouts. 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. DED SOC

Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

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GEOG 0205 - Nature, Power, and Society      

Geographies of Nature, Power, and Society
This course provides an introduction to the contributions of human geography to the interdisciplinary field of political ecology. Political ecology offers a framework for understanding and critically rethinking explanations of human interactions with the environment, working toward equitable and sustainable solutions. For political ecologists, environmental change and social conflict result from uneven access to resources, and hence from power relations. Human geographers contribute concepts of scale, space, place, spatial interactions, and situated knowledge. We will integrate concepts from both fields to study human-environment interactions, and to analyze the production of knowledge and discourses about environmental problems. 3 hr. sem. SOC

Spring 2016, Spring 2017

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GEOG 0209 - Human Geography of Hazards      

Human Geography of Hazards
Why do storms, earthquakes, and other hazards result in disastrous loss of life in some places, and only minor losses in others? In this course we will study human geographies of population, economic development, politics, and culture to explain the diverse outcomes from biophysical hazards. We will compare hazard geographies at the global, regional, and local scales using diverse approaches, including quantitative analysis, geographic information systems (GIS), and comparative case studies. We will examine how geographic analysis and technologies are used in disaster planning and response. We will practice applying human geography theory and methods to hazards research through practical exercises, exams, and research projects. 3 hrs. lect./lab CMP SOC

Spring 2017, Fall 2018

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GEOG 0212 - Urban Geography      

Urban Geography
Urban landscapes are the expression of economic, political, and socio-cultural processes layered on top of each other in particular time-space contexts. In this course, students will theoretically and empirically examine the complex and dynamic urban landscape. Students will gain a theoretical understanding of the location of cities within a larger global economic system of cities, along with the internal organization of economic, cultural, and social functions within cities. We will also examine the processes behind contemporary urban issues such as homelessness, boosterism, urban renewal, gentrification, poverty, and crime. 3 hrs. lect. AMR NOR SOC

Fall 2016

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GEOG 0323 - Open Source GIScience      

Open Source Geographic Information Science
In this course we will study geographic information science (GIS) with open-source software and critical GIS scholarship. In labs, we will practice techniques to include: data acquisition and preparation for analysis, spatial SQL database queries, automating analysis, spatial interpolation, testing sensitivity to error and uncertainty, and data visualization. We will read and apply critical research of GIS as a subject and with GIS as a methodology. Spatial data sources for labs and independent research projects may include remote sensing, micro-data, smart cities and open government data, and volunteered geographic information (e.g. OpenStreetMap and social media). (GEOG 0120) 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. lab DED

Fall 2019

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GEOG 0328 - GIS for the Developing World      

GIS for the Developing World
In this course we will explore the opportunities and challenges of using geographic information systems (GIS) to study population and environmental change in least developed countries. Students will learn techniques to overcome the digital divide in countries with scarce data and low technological capacity, drawing on examples from Africa. In labs and independent projects, we will use open source software and data, learn how to control for data errors and quality, digitize and classify satellite images, analyze change over time, and practice participatory GIS. Throughout the course, we will critically reflect on how GIS affects our understanding and governance of society and the environment. (GEOG 0120) 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. lab AAL DED SAF SOC

Spring 2018

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GEOG 0428 - Geog of Climate & Development      

Seminar in Geographies of Climate Change Adaptation and Development
Rapid anthropogenic climate change cannot be fully mitigated, requiring humans to adapt to changing climate conditions. How will developing countries with high sensitivity and few resources manage to adapt to a changing climate? Geography is uniquely suited to research social dimensions of climate change by integrating human and physical geography in the traditions of hazards, human-environment systems, and political ecology research. In this seminar we will contrast approaches to three related concepts: resilience, vulnerability, and adaptation. We will review their use in current academic research and literature, international climate negotiations, and adaptation planning and financing in least developed countries. We will culminate the seminar with independent research into a particular case of planned climate change adaptation in a least developed country. (Senior majors only, or by approval) AAL CMP SAF SOC

Spring 2016, Spring 2019

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GEOG 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
A one-credit intensive research project developed under the direction of a faculty member. Junior majors only. (Approval Required)

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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GEOG 0700 - Senior Research      

Senior Research
A one-credit intensive research project developed under the direction of a faculty member. Senior majors only. (Approval Required)

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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GEOG 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Students with a departmental GPA of 3.3 or higher are eligible to complete a two-credit senior thesis. In order to complete a senior thesis, students must have a proposal approved by a primary thesis advisor and a secondary departmental reader prior to registering for the first 0701 credit. Upon completion of the thesis, thesis students will present their work in a public seminar and defend the thesis in front of the departmental faculty. Thesis presentations and defenses will typically take place during the final week of classes or the examination period. Upon completion of the presentation and defense, the primary advisor and secondary departmental reader will be responsible for evaluating and grading the thesis. It is strongly encouraged that students considering a thesis discuss their ideas with an advisor during the semester prior to registering for formal thesis credits. (Approval only)

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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Department of Geography

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
287 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753