Geographic Perspectives on Sustainability and Human-Environment Systems



About Module 5

In Modules 1-4, we learned key concepts that appear throughout the course and in human-environment interactions in general. Module 1 introduced the geographer’s perspective on the world and explained why we would study the natural environment in a social science course. Module 2 introduced systems thinking, which is invaluable for mentally managing the complexity of human-environment systems. Module 3 introduced ethics, which underlies all decisions about what we should do about the environment. Module 4 introduced individual and collective action to help us understand how we can successfully make a difference.

In Module 5, we transition from a more abstract discussion of concepts towards a more applied discussion of select human-environment topics by covering the concept of development. We begin by considering what development is. We then examine development around the world both today and throughout history. We then consider some downsides to development and conclude with a discussion of sustainable development.

What will we learn in Module 5?

By the end of Module 5, you should be able to:

  • explain the meanings of and differences between each of several definitions of development;
  • describe major trends in development around the world;
  • explain the environment's role in human development throughout history and today;
  • define the concept of environmental determinism and discuss its merits and limitations;
  • discuss advantages and disadvantages of various forms of development;
  • define sustainable development.

What is due for Module 5?

There are a number of required activities in this module. The chart below provides an overview of the activities for Module 5. For assignment details, refer to the location noted. Due dates are on Canvas. 

Module 5: Lesson Assignments
Requirement Location Submitting Your Work
Reading Assignment: Did the BP Oil Spill Increase US GDP? What is Development? No submission
Health Disparities in Black and White Development's Downsides No submission
Learning Activity: Development Case Studies Learning Activity: Development Case Studies Submit in Canvas


If you have any questions, please post them to our Course Q & A discussion forum in Canvas. I will check that discussion forum often to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate. If you have a more specific concern, please send me a message through Inbox in Canvas.