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Joseph Holler

Assistant Professor of Geography

 work(802) 443-5992
 Tues / Weds 11:00 - 12:30
 McCardell Bicen 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]

ENVS 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
In this course, seniors complete an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. During the term prior to enrolling in ENVS 0700, a student must discuss and agree upon a project topic with a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program and submit a brief project proposal to the Director of Environmental Studies for Approval. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 as a one-term independent study OR up to twice as part of a multi-term project, including as a lead-up to ENVS 0701 (ES Senior Thesis) or ENVS 0703 (ES Senior Integrated Thesis). (Senior standing; Approval only)

Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022

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ENVS 0703 - Senior Integrated Thesis      

Senior Integrated Thesis
This course is the culminating term of a multi-term independent project, resulting in a senior thesis on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment and that meaningfully integrates perspectives, methodologies, and/or approaches from multiple academic divisions (e.g., humanities/arts, natural sciences, social sciences). Approval to enroll is contingent on successful completion of at least one term (and up to two) of ENVS 0700 and approval of the Environmental Studies Program. The project, carried out under the co-supervision of two faculty advisors from different academic divisions of whom at least one is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, will result in a substantial piece of scholarly work that will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum and defended before the thesis committee. (Open to Senior ENVS majors) (Approval Only)

Spring 2021

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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 0120 / ENVS 0120 - Human Geography with GIS      

Human Geography with GIS
How do geographers study spatial interactions between people and the environment? How does socio-economic status relate to spatial patterns of settlement, social organization, access to resources, and exposure to risks? How can geographic information systems (GIS) help geographers explain these spatial patterns and processes? In this course we will apply GIS to a wide range of topics in human geography including urban, environmental, political, hazards, and health. We will learn how to gather, create, analyze, visualize, and critically interpret geographic data through tutorials, collaborative labs, and independent work that culminate in cartographic layouts of our results. 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. DED SOC

Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

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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

Fall 2018, Fall 2021

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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, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

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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 2019, Spring 2021

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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)

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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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 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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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 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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Department of Geography

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