Geography 139: Resources and People
This course is an introductory survey of the environmental problems and challenges that face us, which are often explained as "global" even though we each live in our own social groups, spaces and contexts. The overarching theme and goal of this course is to understand these global problems as connected intimately with daily life. People-Environment Geography is the discipline of studying human relationships with the environment, using both the social and natural sciences, and we will cover both the ecological and the social elements of a number of the environmental and resource challenges we face. Geography, as a discipline, is well-suited to complex social and environmental problems because geographers do not separate human from environmental factors, but believe they should be analyzed together – this gives geography a more integrated perspective than, say, political science, economics, or ecology. By the end of this course you will have not only an operational understanding of the environmental processes that lead to climate change, desertification, deforestation, water quality impacts, and toxic hazards, but also of the political and social context in which these environmental issues are discussed, debated, and perhaps resolved.