Geographic Perspectives on Sustainability and Human-Environment Systems

Credit: Ariel view of a flooded neighborhood near New Orleans by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Schofield is Public Domain

Resource Description

What factors lead to a natural disaster? What causes a famine? Why do cities flood? According to a recent article in The Atlantic, Houston's flooding during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey was primarily caused by impervious pavement which prevents the absorption of water into the land. This example illustrates how nature and society are interlinked, which is the main focus of Geography 30, Penn State's introductory course to nature-society geography. In addition to examining the linkages between human development and natural hazards, this course will also explore human society's connection to food systems, climate change, urbanization and biodiversity. The course will also cover topics of ethics and decision making in order to help students evaluate the tradeoffs of these interconnections.

This resource is part of the following programs: Bachelor of Arts in Energy and Sustainability Policy and Bachelor of Science in Energy and Sustainability Policy.

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Online Resource

You can view the entire resource here: Environment and Society in a Changing World

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You can download the resource files here: Environment and Society in a Changing World
Jenn Baka

"I am an energy geographer interested in understanding the interconnected political and biophysical processes shaping and shaped by systems of energy provision. Motivated by growing up in the former coal region of northeast Pennsylvania, my main research objective is to evaluate the distribution of costs and benefits resulting from energy provision and to design strategies for reducing the all too often unequal distribution of these flows. Long an advocate of interdisciplinary research and mixed method approaches, my research draws upon and helps to advance the fields of political ecology, resource geography, environmental governance, energy studies and industrial ecology.

Brian King

Dr. Brian King has been at Penn State since 2008 and has taught Human Use of the Environment (GEOG 430), Geographies of Environment and Sustainability (GEOG 30), Health Geographies (GEOG 497), and Geographies of Justice (GEOG 433). While affiliated with the University of Cape Town during the academic year 2015 - 2016, he taught an Honour's Module on Environmental Health (EGS 4040). His graduate courses concentrate upon political ecology and international development. Dr. King's research concentrates upon several topics, particularly the impacts of conservation and development in Southern Africa, social and environmental justice, and the intersections between livelihoods, health, and environment. Dr.

Petra Tschakert

Dr Petra Tschakert is an Associate Professor of Geography. She received her PhD. In Arid Lands Resource Sciences from the University of Arizona. Her research interests include Climate change adaptation, human dimensions of global change, adaptive capacity and anticipatory learning, rural livelihoods, livelihood resilience and transitions, social and environmental justice and health, marginalization, coupled social-ecological systems, political ecology, environmentally-induced migration, gold mining and West Africa.

Chongming Wang

Chongming Wang received her MS and PhD in geography from Penn State University in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Chongming's research interests include natural hazards, disaster vulnerability, aging and older adults and mixed-methods research. She is currently a visiting postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State.

Karl Zimmerer

Karl Zimmerer is professor of Environment and Society Geography and directs the GeoSyntheSES Lab at Pennsylvania State University. He co-chairs the Peru GEN network and the International Agrobiodiversity Workshop. Karl is involved in ongoing research and teaching activities in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. His sabbatical activities in 2015-2016 included bases at Harvard and Humboldt Universities, in Peru, and with the Culture Landscapes project in Europe and Japan. Karl focuses on approaches to the transformative resilience of land use and food systems using agrobiodiversity models, spatial landscape designs, and cultural, socioeconomic, and historical analysis.

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