GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Geography 430: Human Use of the Environment


Welcome to the course!

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Registered students should begin with the Course Orientation, located in the "Lesson 0 - Orientation and Syllabus" section of the main menu.

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Quick Facts about GEOG 430

  • Instructor
  • Course Authors - Bronwen Powell, Saumya Vaishnava, Courtney Jackson, Gabriel Tamariz (Thanks to: Sara Cavallo, Russell Hedberg, Meg Boyle, Yooinn Hong and others for input and contribution to past versions of the course).
  • Overview - GEOG 430 examines the human use of resources and ecosystems, the multiple causes and consequences of environmental degradation, and the questions of justice at stake in how we understand and manage the environment. The major objective of this course is to help geographers, earth scientists, and other professionals develop an awareness and appreciation of the multiple perspectives that can be brought to studies of human use of the environment and of the social and environmental consequences of resource-management decisions made in different parts of the world. This is a capstone course that encourages students to place their individual major and technical skills within the context of multiple approaches to environmental decision making and management in complex and dynamic social-ecological systems. In 2019, the course was redesigned to have a Food-Energy-Water Nexus focus. This focus will help students understand how a Human-Environment Geography lens can help us to understand the complex interactions and trade-offs between food, energy, and water in relation to sustainability and justice. 
  • Learning Environment - This website provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu links to important supporting materials, while the Lessons menu links to the course lessons. Canvas, Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of this course as well, as it provides the primary communications, calendaring, and submission tools for the course.
  • Course topics include:
    • Global Environmental Change and Planetary Boundaries
    • Complex Social-Ecological Systems
    • Environmental Governance
    • Environmental Justice 
    • The Food-Energy-Water Nexus and Environmental Impacts of Agriculture
    • Food (Food Security, Food Sovereignty, and Agroecology)
    • Environmental Justice
    • Energy
    • Water
    • Biodiversity Conservation
    • Land Use Change
    • Climate Change


This course is offered as part of the Open Educational Resources initiative of Penn State's John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. You are welcome to use and reuse materials that appear in this site (other than those copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.