GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Course Structure of GEOG 430


This course will be conducted entirely on the World Wide Web. There are no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments. Registered students in this course will need to navigate between several environments in the World Wide Web. These include:

  • This site - The instructional materials in this site include 12 weeks of course material, including this course introduction and Orientation (Week 1), the syllabus, and several other helpful supplemental pages.
  • Canvas - Penn State's NEW course management system. In this course, we'll use Canvas for our course calendar, to communicate, to access some of the readings and films, to submit assignments, and to post grades.


Penn State logo

Not registered? Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit.

Topics of study

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 back to studies of human use of the environment and of the social and environmental consequences of the resource-management decisions that are 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.

A table outlining the weekly lesson topics can be found on the syllabus page.

Typical Schedule of Weekly Activities

For this course, weeks run on a Friday-Thursday schedule.

Our weekly schedule for this semester will be Friday-Thursday. You will have access to the Week's materials beginning on Friday at 12:01 am Eastern so that you can work on them on Friday and over the weekend in preparation for the week's activities. You need to complete all the requirements for that week by the following Thursday. Each week, you will have course content, assigned readings, a short automated quiz, and writing assignments. Every few weeks, you will additionally have a current event essay writing assignment to reinforce your learning. In this assignment, we will ask you to examine a current event in relation to course material and specific readings. Every few weeks, you will turn in certain components of your final essay and thus you can expect to receive feedback for your pieces of the final essay throughout the semester. We hope that doing this will help you know our expectations better and do better on your final essay. Note that in the Canvas Modules tab, each week will have its own content including a checklist specifying all the associated work and deliverables of the week.

I have designed the course so the assignments requiring student feedback are due Tuesdays at 11:59 pm Eastern Time, and all student feedback is due by Thursdays at 11:59 pm Eastern Time (except for the very first week of the course). Assignments that do not require feedback are due on Thursdays at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. For specific due dates, you can always refer to the calendar in Canvas.

Course assignments

Note: General information about each assignment type can be found in the Assignment Outlines and Instructions section of the syllabus. Specific information about each type of assignment can be found in within the lessons.

  • Weekly Quizzes: Each multiple-choice quiz will assess how well you engaged the week's reading materials.
  • Weekly Questions and Reactions: You will share your critical thinking about the week's materials and provide thoughtful questions in Canvas discussion forums. The activity provides an opportunity to get to know your classmates and talk about the materials.
  • Current Event Essays: Using course materials, you will analyze and respond to a current event selected by the instructor.
  • Final Essay: A 3,000 to 3,500-word paper that engages with a topic related to human-environmental geographic relationships.