GEOG 571
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security

Welcome to GEOG 571 - Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security


Quick Facts about GEOG 571


This course examines and illuminates the relationships between cultural geography, civil security, and the stability of the existing world order. It rests firmly upon the application of the tools of spatial analysis that are at the heart of the discipline of geography, and is designed to help students develop the analytical processes that will lead to enlightened syntheses (intelligence products) about the connections associated with cultural differences and current internal and external threats to the security of the American homeland. It also is designed to encourage students to examine the impacts of cultural differences on the stability of the existing world order. The overarching objective of this course is to help successful students develop the knowledge, comprehension, and skills needed to effectively analyze current geospatial realities and, through the prism of cultural geography, create a rational predictive synthesis (intelligence summary) about potential human threats to the security of the nation. The course consists of projects, associated readings, written assignments, and discussions.

GEOG 571 is a required course for the Geospatial Intelligence Option of Penn State's Online Master of GIS as well as the Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence Analytics. It is also an elective course in the geospatial education program and the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security.

Learn more about GEOG 571 - Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security (2 min, 17 sec)

Click here for a transcript of the course overview video.

Leanne Sulewski: Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security. That's a mouthful of a course title but its length is necessary to convey the complexity of this course. You may be asking yourself what cultural geography has to do with intelligence analysis or Homeland Security. Well, have you ever played the game Risk? In the game, you're charged with creating and dissolving alliances and conquering and maintaining territory, with the ultimate goal of world domination. While an oversimplified example, it really shows the importance of geography, including cultural geography, and intelligence analysis. The goal of this course is to expand upon that and really show you how and why cultural geography is so important to intelligence analysis and Homeland Security.

Cristopher Livecchi: In the real world, examples of the importance of cultural geography in intelligence analysis and Homeland Security are all around us. Think about the role that the landscape of Tahrir Square played in the Arab Spring Uprising or the role that nationalism and ethnicity are playing in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Knowledge of cultural geography can only enhance our understanding and analysis of real-world events like these. This course is unique in that it combines two different perspectives. It is both theoretical and application based. It provides an academic background in cultural geography and asks you to apply that knowledge through a series of exercises related to intelligence and Homeland Security.

Leanne Sulewski: Those exercises challenge you to incorporate geographic information systems techniques to demonstrate the applicability of the theory. But don't worry if you don't have a background in GIS. We use Penn State's ArcGIS online framework and provide detailed instructions to help you through the exercises. So, if you've been wanting to dip your toe into the world of GIS, this is an excellent course to gain familiarity with ArcGIS online while learning content directly applicable to your major.

Cristopher Livecchi: We hope you'll consider joining us in exploring the intersections of cultural geography, intelligence analysis, and Homeland Security. In addition to being applicable to your careers, it'll give you the opportunity to think critically about the meaning of words we use in our everyday lives, including things like space, place, identity, landscape, and mobility.

Credit: © Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Want to join us? Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback and earn academic credit. For more information, visit Penn State's Online Geospatial Education Program website. Official course descriptions and curricular details can be reviewed in the University Bulletin.

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