Geography 101: Human & Cultural Geography

Use this course to explore the diverse topics of study that make up the field of human cultural geography. Video lessons and quizzes can introduce you to geologic time, plant and animal domestication, major languages and religions, modern economic systems, and more. 

About This Course

Begin your study of human cultural geography by exploring the relationships between the Earth's vegetation regions and climates and the prehistoric migration patterns and agricultural developments of the people who inhabited them. Study the spread of human culture as you make your way through the lessons and come full circle by discovering the roles population dynamics play in determining the environmental sustainability of modern day societies. Topics discussed in this course include:

  • Vocabulary terms, concepts and technologies used to study human culture
  • Earth systems, processes, and materials
  • Geographic regions and their physical features
  • Prehistoric, modern, and contemporary human migration patterns
  • Factors affecting the dispersal of ethnicity, religion, and language
  • Types of settlements and their geographical characteristics
  • Distribution of industry, services, and people in urban and rural areas
  • Environmental impacts of agricultural development, energy consumption, and waste disposal
  • Legislative tools used to mitigate pollution and conserve natural resources

Our course on human cultural geography is organized in a way that makes tackling each aspect of this interdisciplinary field easy to manage. Whether you want to start at the course's beginning and study the Earth's structure and physical features or jump to chapters discussing the implications of renewable and nonrenewable energy use, video lessons and transcripts allow you to work through the material at your own pace and in whichever order you choose. Moreover, our experienced instructors use a teaching style that makes the lessons entertaining, and the corresponding multiple-choice quizzes could prove to be a useful tool if you need to gauge your understanding of the course content.

Course Topics

Course Chapter Objectives
Introduction to Human Cultural Geography Examine contemporary approaches to studying geography and discuss concepts like cultural ecology and environmental determinism. Learn the uses of GPS and GIS technologies and explore types of geographical regions. Get an introduction to the vocabulary terms used in the study of human culture.
Basic Facts and Concepts of the Earth Discover the shape of the Earth and the geographic coordinate system used to plot location. Investigate forces shaping its surface and the relationships between geographical regions and seasons. Explore the field of time geography.
Geologic Time Consider theories of geological evolution and methods of relative and radiometric dating. Look into the uses of index fossils and radioactive decay to determine where rocks or fossils fall on the geologic time scale.
Plate Tectonics Mine evidence used to explain theories of plate tectonics and continental drift, such as sea floor spreading, polar reversal, hot spots, and paleomagnetism.
Minerals and Rocks Study the chemical classifications and physical properties of minerals, including density, luster, tenacity, and fracture. Sift through the characteristics of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and examine their place in the rock cycle.
Rock Deformation and Mountain Building Identify types of differential stress and stages of rock deformation. Examine causes of geological folds and faults. Learn the definitions of isostasy, volcanic arcs, accreted terranes, and other vocabulary used to describe the mountain building process.
Earthquakes Investigate causes of earthquakes and the tools used to measure the seismic activity of their aftershocks and foreshocks. Explore the types of destruction caused by earthquakes.
Volcanoes Look into the differences between shield, cinder cone, and composite cone volcanoes. Learn about the types of gases released during a volcanic eruption. Examine the composition of pyroclastic materials and describe types of volcanic hazards, including landslides, lava flows, and tsunamis.
The Atmosphere Study the structure and components of the atmosphere. Research the effects of solar radiation, the processes of cloud formation, and techniques for measuring humidity. Identify causes of air pollution, a thinning ozone layer and global warming.
Weather and Storms Learn to differentiate between weather and climate. Consider the effects of air pressure, temperature, and fronts on weather patterns before investigating causes of thunderstorms, cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.
Glaciers Study glacier formation and movement. Examine the results of glacial deposition and erosion. Find out how Ice Age glaciers formed pluvial lakes.
Oceans Identify the differences between active and passive continental margins and explore the formation of the oceanic ridge system. Discover characteristics of beaches, properties of ocean water, and effects of waves, tides, and longshore current on ocean circulation. Explore the marine organisms populating this environment.
Weathering and Erosion Investigate the processes of chemical and mechanical weathering. Scrutinize the definition of soil before delving into causes of erosion and prevention techniques. Sift through triggers and processes of mass wasting.
Water Balance Recognize the evaporation, condensation, and precipitation stages in the water cycle. Find out how water is distributed across the Earth and follow the runoff and infiltration of precipitation once it reaches land.
Ground Water Learn how factors, like porosity and permeability, affect groundwater movement. Examine the formation of springs and wells before investigating the environmental impacts of groundwater withdrawal. Discover groundwater's role in forming sinkholes and caverns.
Running Water Get tips for reading a landform diagram. Study the formation of drainage basins, bedrock channels, alluvial channels, and stream valleys. Differentiate between laminar and turbulent streamflows.
The Geography of Languages, Religions, and Material Culture Look into the development and diffusion of the world's major languages and religions. Define key religious concepts and identify the differences between monotheistic, polytheistic, and non-theistic religions. Study examples of material culture.
The Origin and Dispersal of Humans and Culture Identify the impacts of climate change and natural disasters on prehistoric migration. Examine modern and contemporary migration patterns. Scrutinize theories of cultural evolution and the models used to explain human origin.
Effects of Population on the Environment Consider factors affecting biotic potential, population size, and carrying capacity. Learn how demographics, like birth and mortality rates, differ among developed and developing nations. Discover the world's sparsely and densely populated regions and their impacts on resource consumption.
Domestication of Plants and Animals Explore the Neolithic agricultural revolution and the benefits of domesticating plants and animals from an evolutionary perspective. Find out how the history of domestication varies from one region to the next.
Ethnicity and Geography Investigate the geographic distribution of ethnicity. Discuss causes of ethnic competition and the resulting conflicts before looking into examples of ethnic cleansing in Central Africa and Europe.
Geography of Land Resources Learn to recognize various vegetation regions and biomes. Review types of public and private land ownership in the U.S. Assess threats to the biodiversity of forests and rangelands. Study the role of the National Park Service in sustainably managing these resources.
Spatial Processes Find out how spatial and temporal processes relate to the study of behavioral geography. Follow the cultural diffusion of folk and popular cultures around the world.
Settlement Patterns Examine the functions and types of settlements. Explore the geographical characteristics of central business districts, cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Learn how land use is distributed in cities and analyze models of urban structure in and outside the U.S.
Modern Economic Systems Investigate the economy's primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. Discover the origins of manufacturing and services as well as factors affecting the location of industry. Check out the services available in early and contemporary settlements.
Economics & Geography Assess the components of gross domestic product and find out how they affect standards of living. Research domestic and foreign policies designed to promote economic growth and consider the ways in which productivity is affected by human and physical capital, technology, research, and development.
Political Geography Explore the basic sizes and shapes of states. Discover the differences between physical and cultural boundaries as well as the advantages of political and military cooperation among different states.
Impacts of Humans on the Environment Study the environmental impacts of the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Recognize the problems resulting from pollution, desertification, deforestation, and greenhouse gasses. Get an introduction to the field of industrial ecology.
Renewable Resources Consider the pros and cons of such resources as wind and geothermal energies, biomass, solar power, and hydropower. Peruse examples of energy conservation as well as suggestions for using energy more efficiently at home.
Nonrenewable Resources Examine the environmental impacts of extracting and using fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas, and coal. Identify the differences between energy consumption in developed and developing nations. Recognize the risks of generating nuclear power.
Environmental Sustainability Review behaviors threatening environmental sustainability. Explore the concept of voluntary simplicity and the complexities of sustainable consumption.
Food and Agriculture Consider the implications of food insecurity and learn how agricultural methods vary according to a country's level of development. Survey the adverse affects of industrialized agriculture alongside land conservation criteria. Analyze the benefits and drawbacks of the green revolution, genetic engineering, and pesticide use.
Solid and Hazardous Waste Learn about types of waste and methods for their disposal, such as landfills, mass burn incinerators, and composting. Explore green chemistry, the definition of integrated waste management, and examples of waste legislation. Learn characteristics of two types of hazardous waste.
Environmental Risk Analysis Identify threats to environmental health, such as disease-causing agents and environmental toxins. Investigate methods for assessing chemicals, monitoring public water supplies, and determining the effects of environmental pollutants.
Ethical and Political Processes of the Environment Get an overview of environmental ethics and competing worldviews. Look into principles of environmental justice before examining the uses of environmental impact statements, legislation, and environmental full cost accounting.

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