Presentations with PowerPoint


The Americas

The Caribbean Islands:  Who Owns What?

Many islands changed hands repeatedly in the colonial period--why?  Many today are independent states--which ones?


The Sweet Caribbean:  The Role of Sugar in Populating the Isles

The first to displace the native inhabitants were white colonials, then African laborers, and finally a melange from far quarters.  Sugar functioned as the economic motor for the Caribbean from mid-17th Century onward.


Sugar Cane & Haiti = A Desperate Past and a Difficult Future—The Caribbean’s first independent country struggles mightily to find political stability and economic sustenance.  A “successful” French sugar plantation colony built on slavery, the exit of the European landowning class and constant power struggles thereafter have left Haiti in challenging straits.


The Dutch in the Caribbean & the ABCs

How did the Dutch survive amongst the British, French and Spanish forces in the Caribbean.  Focus on Aruba and Curacao.


Emigrants:  Leaving the Caribbean to Keep It alive—Limited space and narrow economic horizons on many islands have led to longstanding emigration flows and return remittances that support the home folks.  Especially young males have participated in working abroad for years at a time, sometimes returning, sometimes settling in a new country, but almost always helping to support family back home.


What About Bananas?

Banana origins, importance, and the up and down story of the banana  trade in Central America & the Caribbean


Food Then and Food Now:  What the Columbian Exchange Brought to the shores of the Caribbean

Indigenous folk around the Caribbean had no livestock, no rice, no citrus, no bananas, but they often ate well


Baja:  It's not all desert (but a lot of it is!)  A look at Baja California landscapes, from sand dunes to pine forests, and many exotic species and environments.


Baja:  Eating agave, the missions, miners and wine

Different folks have used Baja in very different ways, from harvesting desert plants to growing high tech tomatoes and making premium wine.


The Aztec’s Mexico—America’s food basket

What were the Irish, the Italians and the Thais eating before 1500?  It wasn't potatoes, tomato sauces and chile-laced dishes.


The Mexican Riviera—Then and Now

What has tourism brought to Mexico’s Pacific Coast?


The Canal that Built a Country

The country of Panama was born of the canal and lives by it today.  A look at the trials of construction, the transfer to Panamanian sovereignty, and today’s mammoth expansion.


What About Chile:  Boldness of the Andes, Treasures of the Atacama

Chile’s physical environments mirror in many ways the west coast of North America from Baja California to the coast of southern Alaska.  Surprisingly for some, the Atacama Desert and inland Andean areas have supplied much of the wealth for Chile.  Riches here led to the War of the Pacific in the late 19th Century, with Chile annexing pieces of Peru and Bolivia


Peru:  Colonial/Modern Lima; the Indigenous Colca Valley

Lima shows off some of Spain’s colonial splendor amidst massive urban sprawl.  Far to the south, Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city, serves as a gateway to the terraced lands of Incan descendants in the remote Colca Valley.


Ecuador:  South America’s Richest Physical & Cultural Landscapes

Ecuador’s natural habitats range from coastal and highland desert to tropical rainforest and mountain cloud forest.  In the Highlands, the Indigenous imprint remains pronounced, a vibrant culture that has survived centuries of Spanish colonialism, and since independence, two hundred years of political instability.


Buenos Aires:  Not Even a Gleam in the King’s Eye Until the late 18th Century to World Class City Early in the 20th

By 1880, this “Paris of the South” had become the southern hemisphere’s largest city, a rank it held until surpassed by Sao Paulo around 1975.  But until the last quarter of the 18th Century, urban life in what became Argentina focused on a north-south line of cities at the base of the Andes in the interior. Why wasn’t Buenos Aires an important colonial center and what accounts for the obvious wealth displayed by the early 1900s?  The capital benefits of agricultural growth, British investment, and relatively massive Spanish and Italian immigration spurred development of this great urban mass, and the architecture of the early 20th Century reflects the elevated status held by Argentina’s center of political, economic and people power.  From the 1940s onward, however, the political and economic tribulations, including times of severe dictatorship, economic crashes, and ill-advised warfare, have been reflected in the place that serves as home to over one-third of the Argentine population.


When Half the Country Lives in One City—Montevideo’s Role in Uruguay

Uruguay appeared as an independent state to serve as a buffer between the two South American giants of Brazil and Argentina.  The capital city of Montevideo concentrates one-half of the population of South America’s smallest Spanish-speaking country.  Reflecting Uruguay’s longstanding status as a middle-class society, Montevideo--to some, a smaller version of Buenos Aires—displays a central elegance, abundant park space, and a busy port, but also some decay.  The urban guerrilla warfare of the Tupumaros of the 1960s-1970s and the resulting dictatorship impacted life dramatically for two decades.  Today, Montevideo reflects the difficulty of succeeding as the capital of a country of only 3.5 million people.


Ilhabela, Parati & Buzios: Coastal Life Outside Brazil’s Mega-cities.

These three stops offer the opportunity to visit three contrasting small urban centers and their surroundings along Brazil’s coast.  Ilhabela offers a predominantly green, mountainous environment.  The bulk of the island sits inside a state park, and also features a UNESCO biosphere reserve and an ecological sanctuary.  Beaches, sailing and a colorful history add to charm of the place which can only be reached by boat.  Parati (or Paraty), founded in the 17th Century, operated as a gold port, coffee export point and then went to sleep for a century or so.  Since the 1970s prosperity has returned to this town, marked by historic colonial landscapes in its center, and whose inland sides are surrounded by mountains full of parks.  Buzios, exhibits what many think of when imagining coastal Brazil—beautiful beaches full of Cariocas.  Beach tourism is its lifeline, and none other than Brigitte Bardot brought attention to it when she spent a long visit there.


Rio:  From Backwater to City Made by Gold to National and Cultural Capital

From its 16th Century beginnings to the mid-18th Century, Rio de Janeiro lay quietly.  Then it became a major port for inland gold mining operations, becoming the colonial capital in 1763, then the national capital with Brazilian independence and home to a king and an emperor.  With a million inhabitants by the end of the 19th Century it became the face of Brazil to the outside world, on its way to becoming one of the planet’s most recognizable cities.


Rio:  Cultural Hub and Urban Scene:  Beaches, Favelas, Architecture, Samba, Football and Carnaval

While no longer Brazil’s capital, nor even its largest city, to many foreigners, Rio represents “Brazil”.  Rio offers a cultural and land use complexity that rivals its difficult topography.  The inquisitive visitor can encounter many a surprise in exploring from Guanabara Bay on the east to world-famed beaches on the south and southwest.  World-renowned architecture, precarious favelas, pulsating samba, pervasive football (soccer) and the ultimate carnival speak “Rio” to the rest of the world.



Is Venice Sinking?

Water made Venice and water may destroy it.  Look at how water threatens Venice and what the impacts have been.


Saving Venice

Great measures, that have often met considerable resistance, have been taken to try to keep Venice afloat


Splintering Yugoslavia

Twenty-six years ago we had Yugoslavia.  Today we have Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia (and Kosovo?).  What happened?


Italian Medieval City-States: Focus on Florence and Pisa

Italy was divided into many political units 500 years ago.  Florence was one of the strongest; Pisa was a maritime power.


Look What The Grimaldis Did: “Independent Monaco”

Nestled near the juncture of France and Italy, Monaco hangs (literally!) tough.


Nice: Stony Beaches, Matisse, A New Tram - What’s With Nice?

The Romans liked it, so did others along the way.  Take a look at Nice's varied landscapes.


The Center of Ferry Land: Corsica Rumbles Along

An island with a turbulent past reflects its “Frenchness” and more on the streets of Ajaccio.


Barcelona: Historic Currents, Visual Treats

Take a quick look at the city’s long history with a focus on its abundant cultural/architectural landscapes.  Just rambla-ing along...


Cadiz and Sevilla:  Phoenicians, Moors and New World Riches

Cadiz claims to be the oldest city in Europe; the Moors have left a rich impression in Sevilla; and both cities reached their apogees as focal points for trade with the New World during the colonial period.


Lisbon:  Head for the Hills (or the elevator).  As the former seat of one of the great European colonial empires Lisbon has history, architectural riches, the Alfama and football (soccer).


Galicia:  Spain’s Cool Spot

Galicia occupies the thermal antipode of Sevilla.  Rainy much of the year, cool and refreshing in the summer, it’s a place with Celtic roots and a distinctive language—Galician/Gallego.   The region is a source of appealing white wines and distinctive cities.


La Rochelle:  The Knights Templar, Huguenots, and Sugar Cane Wealth  La Rochelle’s location on the central west coast of France attracted “visitors” from near and far, and gave it an advantageous position in the colonial period for French trade with the New World.


Wine Geography and History

The Beginnings of Wine

The winegrape of Europe (and now everywhere else) was first planted in the Caucusus-Turkey-Iran region.  What was wine’s role in ancient societies and when and how did wine appear in other lands?  How do we know?  How’s your grasp of Biomolecular Archeology???


The Greeks Expand the Wine World

How did the winegrape arrive in Ancient Greece?  Where did the Greeks plant grapes and make wine?  Who was Dionysus?  What about the “symposium?”


Wine in the Roman Empire

Here’s the first civilization where wine was available to “everyman.”  Many Roman practices and vineyard developments influenced today’s wineworld.  What did the Romans drink?  Where did their favorite wines grow?  What about Bacchus?


Revolution in Italian wine

The world's most productive wine producing country now challenges for the best in quality using both native grapes and varieties from France and elsewhere.  How does all this compare with Classical Rome?


So What About the French?

Carrying the world’s leading wine reputation has not been easy for the French the last few decades.  We’ll explore French wine regions, changes in the country’s wine scene,

and explore how southern France (the Midi) metamorphosed from producing pure plonk to exporting quality wines.


Bordeaux vs. Burgundy

What’s the difference?  Or an easy prescription for oenological cranial discomfort.


The Midi:  An Inferiority Complex Overcome

Burdened with a serious sense of vinous worthlessness, the last 30 years have shown Southern France possesses genes for quality wine production.


Chile’s Wine Story:  Peasant Industry, French Influences, Plebian Plonk, & 1990s Revolution

Chile’s wine story is unique in Latin America.  Through the mid-20th Century peasant farmers on small holdings produced most of the grapes for Chilean wine, though French contributions in the late 19th Century led to planting of some quality wine grapes.   Until the 1990s the industry focused on production of low quality wine for the domestic market.  Since that time (and almost overnight), Chile has become a major exporter of high quality wine.  What happened?


Australasia and Asia—New and Old Wine Worlds

The vinous advances of Australia and New Zealand represent gold star achievements among what oenophiles refer to as “New World Wines.”  How did this happen?  In Asia, the “old” (west Asia) holds on while China, Japan and India join the “new wine regions” parade.


Wine From All Corners

What the Wine Revolution has wrought--wine in China, bountiful exports from Chile, and French wine beaten in blind tastings.  Who woulda thunk!!  We’ll also explore wine developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

My Career

I obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, spending my teaching and research career at Sonoma State University (about an hour north of San Francisco) beginning in 1969.  I am now Professor Emeritus, having retired in 2007.   I taught classes in Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, Latin America, Field Experience in Baja California, Wine Geography, and History of Geographic Thought.  For 13 years of my tenure I held the position of department chair.  I have spent time in all the countries of Latin America, including a year in Mexico as a Fulbright Lecturer, two long residencies in Honduras (research), a summer in Guatemala (research), and a summer in Ecuador as a Visiting Professor.  I enjoyed shorter stays in the rest of the countries/islands.  I taught in Spanish in Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, and Paraguay and am fluent in Spanish.  I can get by a bit in French and mumble in Italian and German.  I have scholarly articles in various geographic journals and some book chapters, and I presented numerous research papers at professional meetings.  I spent a year in France on a sabbatical, learning French and doing research on the French wine industry.  I have traveled around much of Europe over several years and many journeys.


I have been active in professional associations, serving as Vice-President and President of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers.  I was elected to a term on the council of the Association of American Geographers (now called the American Association of Geographers!), the world’s leading professional geographic society.  I functioned several years as the U.S. Regional Development Representative to the Pan American Institute for Geography and History, as well as on the boards of the Pacific Coast Council of Latin American Studies and the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers.


Finally, I am an avid sports fan with a notable sense of humor.


My cruising career

I have served as a lecturer/speaker on twenty-seven cruises, the first in 2003 and the most recent in April 2017.  I am booked for June 2017 on the Windstar Legend and for February 2018 on the Viking Sky.  I have done two cruises for the American Geographical Society (which no longer sponsors cruises) and the rest for commercial cruise lines through agencies.  Lines that I have worked on include Celebrity, Princess, Azamara, Oceania, Viking and Silversea.  About half of those efforts were aboard Celebrity ships.


I have served as a destination speaker on cruises up the Po River; along Europe’s Atlantic seaboard; various points in the Mediterranean, in the western, southern and eastern Caribbean; Mexico’s west coast and through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean; along South America’s west coast and through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean; from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, and a 31 day cruise with the American Geographical Society from Casablanca to Western Sahara, Cape Verde, down the east coast of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, the Falkland Islands and Ushuaia.


As a special interest speaker I have lectured on the History and Geography of Wine on Mediterranean cruises, western Europe, and Southeast Asia (Singapore to Yokohama).  I have done this in English and Spanish.

Enrichment and Destination

Dr William K. Crowley