Human Geography

Geography, literally translated from Greek would be gē meaning "earth" and -graphia meaning "writing".  Geography is therefore the characterization and communication of the Earth and its components.  While physical geographers concentrate on topics such as weather, climate, soils, landforms, etc... human geographers investigate the ways in which people interact with the Earth and each other.  Human geographers investigate how people interact with their environment and how their environment influences the ways in which they act. In other words, human geographers focus on people and their activities, such as culture, economics, political systems, transportation, and history.

Although every geographer tends to be familiar with most aspects of the discipline (e.g. climate scientists understand the role that humans play in climate change), each discipline within geography approaches a problem from a different perspective. Where a climate scientist may try to quantify the amount of additional atmospheric carbon attributable to automobiles, a transport geographer may examine changes in the road network that would help minimize atmospheric carbon—same basic problem (atmospheric carbon) but examined from a different point of view. As we develop a deeper understanding of the role that humans play in altering their environment, the role of the human geographer becomes increasingly important. For example, climate scientists have identified the problem of climate change and its magnitude and human geographers must now take that information and help to develop actionable plans that will help mitigate climate change and help communities across the globe. Both perspectives are needed to fully address the problem.

Students interested in cultural geography can take a wide range of courses within the context of several of our departmental majors.  Students outside of the department may also opt to take courses toward a minor.  Interested students are encouraged to contact a faculty member or their advisor to discuss potential courses and projects.



Earth Science Courses (ESS)

ESS 108 Introduction to Environmental Sustainability
Introduction to environmental conservation. Basic elements of the physical environment are examined in consideration of the interaction between physical and human landscape systems. Emphasis on the fundamental relationship of society to agricultural, hydrologic, biotic, mineral, and energy resources. Factors of environmental quality and land use by society also considered.

Geography Courses (GEO) 

GEO 101 World Geography
Study of basic global patterns and problems and the distinctive characteristics and interconnections of world culture regions with human ways of living viewed in their interactions and associations with natural, human, and technological resources of aspects of the environment. The course made functional in everyday living through the perception of relations between concepts of the course and current world problems.

GEO 103 Geography of the United States and Canada
The introductory regional analysis of population, land utilization, and economic activity through a comprehensive study of interrelationships between humans and the physical and cultural environments. It provides a conceptual framework within which past, present, and future rural and urban environments of the United States and Canada become explainable.

GEO 105 Physical Geography
Studies way the basic natural phenomena of air, water, and ground mutually interact and the way in which these interactions vary from one part of the earth to another to yield different natural environmental regions. Two hours lecture/two hours lab/week.

GEO 140 Human Geography
Examines the diverse cultural landscapes and behavioral patterns of the world. The dynamic aspects of our technological era are viewed as they influence cultural realms differing in race, language, religion, economy, and population distribution. The origin and diffusion of skills and tools used by societies to transform and adjust to their environments will be surveyed.

GEO 217 Geography of Australia and Oceania
Appraises the development of the island nations and possessions of the southwest Pacific as it examines the several geographic patterns evolved by different cultures in the various physical settings of this region.

GEO 230 Economic Geography
Investigates and delineates the spatial patterns of the human process of making a living. Each major economic activity is considered in terms of the basic resources available in the physical environment and the existing technical advancement of the culture. Basic geographic considerations relevant in analyzing economic patterns such as locational factors, research tools, and location theory are introduced.

GEO 305 Geography of Europe
The regional course designed to develop an unbiased understanding of the economic problems of Europe, exclusive of Russia and surrounding regions. Geographic relationships underlying land utilization, boundary disputes, and dominant international problems are considered. Prerequisite: GEO101.

GEO 307 Geography of the Middle East and North Africa
The regional study of the physical, cultural, economic, and strategic elements of the Middle Eastern and North African regions. Emphasis on the establishment of a foundation from which to analyze contemporary conditions.

GEO 308 Geography of Latin America
Comparative study of the geographical regions of Middle and South America. Latin American relations with the United States and the rest of the world are interpreted through the analysis of the economic, social, and cultural activities of people in relation to the physical factors of this environment. Prerequisite: GEO101.

GEO 310 Transportation Geography
Analyzes the overall roles of transportation within the urban context. An integral part is the discussion of current urban transportation problems. Fieldwork involving an evaluation of local transportation needs will be required. Course topics and requirements are flexible enough to meet the needs of students coming from urban studies, economics, business, and elementary education.

GEO 313 Geography of South and Southeast Asia
Examines the diverse cultural and physical features giving form to the present political/economic situation in this region and shaping the future.

GEO 314 Industrial Geography
Interpretative survey of the effects in the United States of geographic conditions upon industrial production and commerce, of development of commercial areas, and availability of resources to markets in relation to other regions of the world.

GEO 317 Geography of East Asia
Examines the vast and complex physical and cultural patterns of China, Korea, and Japan. Analysis of present and future economic and political structure is emphasized.

GEO 320 Historical Geography
Emphasizes the reciprocal and causal relationships between the natural environment found in the United States and the historical movement and settlement of man on the varied American environment. Emphasizes interaction between human choice on one hand and the nature of coastlands, islands, rivers, mountains and soil, plains, and climate conditions.

GEO 322 Urban Geography
Surveys the city, its forms, functions, internal and external relations, and evolution. Emphasis on large urban agglomerations, particularly those of the Western World. Individual and group fieldwork examining local and regional urban areas of several classes are integral to the course.

GEO 326 Political Geography
Gives attention to boundary problems, the value, and control of colonies, fishing agreements, problems concerning commercial aviation, world trade, world food supplies, control and development of natural resources, and the geographic aspects of problems concerning world peace. Prerequisite: GEO101.

GEO 391 Geography Seminar
Opportunity for advanced students to explore in greater depth those aspects of geography and geographic thought not fully developed in other courses. Geography viewed in light of its historical development and the leading edges of current research. Distinctive areas of specialization opened for in-depth consideration. Drawing upon departmental, interdepartmental and outside sources, a seminar designed to stimulate and excite interest in a rapidly expanding professional field concerned with current social and environmental problems. Required for all arts and science and secondary education majors in geography.

GEO 402 Medical Geography
Introduces a geographical approach in the analysis of problems regarding health. Dynamic interaction between people and the environment (physical, biological, cultural, economic) lie at the core of medical geography, a discipline that integrates natural and social sciences. Consideration of such interactions is essential for an understanding of the changes that occur in the distribution of health and disease, when, for instance, the environment is altered, or human interactions with the environment undergo substantial modification.

GEO 415 Regional Geographic Studies
Opportunity to study the physical and human landscapes within a particular region of the world not covered by regular courses. Departmental faculty bring their regional expertise into the classroom and provide students with a focused examination of the region with respect to current political, social, economic, physical, and environmental issues. Faculty highlight their own work in the region and place their research within the broader regional context.

GEO 441 Quantitative Methods
Broad-based education in the geographical sciences requires proficiency in applying statistical techniques to environmental problems. Provides a comprehensive and empathetic approach to statistical problem solving using practical geographic examples.

GEO 450 Geography-Geology Field Studies
One week to 10-day regional field study observing and analyzing the physical and cultural landscape. Emphasis placed upon the physical and historical geology and geography of a prescribed route including several states. Prerequisites: ESS212, ESS311, GEO103 or permission of the instructor.

GEO 514 Urban Environment
Examines the impact of information technologies (IT) on the arrangement of human activities. The new technologies in information should make it possible to share information on a global scale. Information on problems ranging from hunger, employment opportunities, environmental degradation, traffic congestion, housing, and many other situations can be shared in a very short span of time over vast areas. The use of new opportunities in information availability and information sharing should assist anyone concerned with a vast range of human problems with their potential solutions. Explores the problems and prospects for using information technology to communicate with people in similar or very different cultural and physical environments to guide the growth and development of human activities.

GEO 532 Disease and the Environment
Seminar in geoenvironmental health hazards such as solid waste, air, and water pollution. Emphasis on public health problems these hazards pose, the application of geographic methods, and tools of analysis. Means available to cope with geoenvironmental hazards and associated policy debates are examined. Lecture information limited. Students expected to participate actively in every seminar meeting.