Unit I CG Discussion Part II: Discuss some of the distinctive (cultural, economic, political, and/or physical) characteristics of your region. In your response to another student, provide some regional analysis by discussing how his or her region’s characteristics contrast to your own region. SOC 2010, Cultural Geography 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit I
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. Discuss key concepts in human geography.
1.1 Identify different types of regions.
1.2 Identify different types of spatial diffusion.
1.3 Recognize key terms describing human geographical concepts involving space, place, region,
2. Discuss the impact of globalization on society.
2.1 Discuss security risks of globalization.
Unit I Assessment
Unit I Assessment
Videos in Unit Lesson
Chapter 2, pp. 30-32
Unit I Assessment
Article: “Technology and National Security: The United States at a Critical
Unit I Assessment
Required Unit Resources
Chapter 1: What is Human Geography?
Chapter 2: Globalization and Cultural Geography, pp. 30–32
In order to access the following resource, click the link below.
Kadtke, J., & Wharton, J. (2018). Technology and national security: The United States at a critical crossroads.
Defense Horizons, (84), 1–8.
Welcome to the Unit I Lesson. This lesson will highlight and expand upon some of the major concepts
presented in the Unit I readings on human geographic concepts and how globalization connects to
UNIT I STUDY GUIDE
Introduction to Human Geography
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human geography. The lesson will contain examples, questions to think about, and videos to help explain
this unit’s material.
What is Human Geography?
When you think of the word geography, you often think of a map or globe. Geography is much more than just
maps. Geography has two main branches. The first is physical geography, which focuses on environmental
dynamics. The second is human geography. Greiner (2018) defines human geography as “a branch of
geography centered on the study of people, places, spatial variation in human activities, and the relationship
between people and the environment” (p. 2). For this class, we will focus on human geography.
Human Geographic Concept of Cultural Ecology: Past and Present Approaches
An important part of the study of human geography is cultural ecology. This is the study of the relationship
between the natural environment and culture. We will study this more in Unit IV. The course textbook
presents several approaches in the study of cultural ecology to explain the relationship between nature and
man. These include environmental determinism, possibilism, humans as modifiers of the Earth, and Earth as
a dynamic integrated system (Greiner, 2018).
• Environmental determinism came from the ancient Greeks and argued that nature heavily impacted
human development. The textbook lists three major criticisms of this theory. They include, it is too
simplistic, it cannot account for the fact that similar natural environments have different cultural ideas
and behaviors, and it is too ethnocentric (Greiner, 2018). Actor-network theory, which is rooted in
environmental determinism, argues that humans and environment are strongly linked together in
networks and that this relationship impacts human behavior.
• Possibilism is the theory that humans use creativity to alter and manage nature.
• Humans as modifiers of the Earth focuses on how humans modify Earth as the dominant idea in
understanding the relationship between man and nature.
• Earth as a dynamic integrated system is the dynamic relationship between man and nature. This is
the most used approach today in cultural geography. It sees man and nature as tightly connected and
having a give and take relationship.
The most current and relevant of these cultural ecological approaches is the Earth as a dynamic integrated
system. It focuses on how human impact on the natural environment has grown substantially since the
industrial age. It talks about how this impact is negatively impacting the Earth, which, in turn, could negatively
impact humans. Cultural ecologists use the term Anthropocene to define the time period we live in today
when humans have had such a drastic impact on the Earth. Watch this short video explaining the
Anthropocene period. The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of
the video in the Films on Demand database.
Terranoa (Producer). (2015). Age of man (Segment 3 of 11) [Video]. Films on Demand. In The age of man.
Due to the large alterations humankind has made and continues to make to the natural landscape, there is a
great need to find sustainable ways of interacting with the Earth. Sustainable environmental practices are
solutions that solve a problem but also protect the future health of the Earth at the same time. Sustainable
development is defined in the textbook as “an approach to resource use and management that meets
economic and social needs without compromising the resources for future generations” (Greiner, 2018, p. 44).
Human Geographic Concepts: Place
In investigating the relationship between culture (shared values and material goods) and geography, human
geographers look at the dramatic impact culture is having on landscapes. They also look at landscapes to
make inferences about past and current cultures. There are several cultural geographic concepts that go
along with the study of culture and landscapes. This section will focus on how human geographers define and
understand place. In cultural geography, place is more than just location and a physical description of the
place. Place is a location with both physical and social characteristics.
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When we meet somewhere and define a place, we are usually talking about a physical location like a
restaurant, a park, or a store. A place typically but not always has an absolute location or position of
latitude and longitude on a map. An example of a place without absolute location would be cyberspace.
Besides a location, places also have site, which are physical characteristics like mountains, rivers, etc.
(Greiner, 2018). Now that we have discussed the physical description of space, let’s now talk about social
and cultural aspects.
Place applies situation, which Greiner (2018) defines as “The geographic context of a place including its
political, economic, social, or other characteristics” (p. 8). So when you think about place as a cultural
geographer, you want to dig deeper and think about the meaning associated with a place. For example, when
we think about our home, we think about it as more than just a location on a map. We feel a deeper
connection. We feel a sense of place. We think about the memories we have made in our home. The objects,
activities, and people give our home special meaning that impacts our identity and activities. What place or
places matter to you? What significance have these places played in your life?
Human Geographic Concepts: Regions
When cultural geographers are studying places, they often break down their study into regions. Greiner
(2018) states “Regional analysis involves studying the distinctiveness of regions” (p. 6). The example
provided in the textbook was studying the differences in place between New England and the South. The
textbook also discussed the three types of regions (formal, functional, and perceptual).
• A formal region has measurable characteristics. It does not have to be a formal boundary like a state
boundary. It just has to have characteristics that can be measured that tie the region together. These
could be things like climate, language, landforms, or the example in our textbook of educational
attainment levels. Latin America would be an example of a formal region.
• A functional region is an area that has at least one unifying economic, social, or political
characteristic. An example would be the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Another example given
in the textbook is a university.
• A perceptual region is defined by the meaning a group attaches to it. The boundaries may not always
be fixed. An example would be the Bible Belt. A community of fans of the Red Sox baseball team is
another example. There is a shared identity and connection to the team, but the fans do not live in a
fixed area. It spreads out past formal boundaries, and it is defined by a shared identity and
connection to that particular team.
Human Geographic Concepts: Space and Spatial Diffusion
Space is another term human geographers use to describe and categorize areas. Greiner (2018) lists
three categories of space: absolute, relative, and rational. Absolute space is space that can be precisely
measured. Relative space changes depending upon frame of reference. A space in a network is an example.
Relational space connects space to social processes. How you act in spaces may change based on
perception and situation.
An important human geographic concept connected to space is spatial diffusion. It is defined by Greiner
(2018) as “The movement of a phenomenon such as an innovation, information, or an epidemic, across space
over time” (p. 367). The textbook discusses four types of diffusion:
• Relocation diffusion: This refers to physical movement of people that spreads ideas and culture.
Migration is the most common type of relocation diffusion.
• Hierarchical diffusion: This is the top-down diffusion of ideas and things. This can also be described
as being diffused from higher rank to lower ranks. Diffusion of information from the chief executive
officer (CEO) downward through the management chain to lower-level employees is an example.
Another example would be the diffusion of Gatorade. Gatorade was created for college athletes
(higher rank), and then it trickled down to the American public.
• Contagious diffusion: This spreads like pathogens or disease, but it does not have to be a disease. It
could be an idea or fad, too. An example would be the spread of the cold or flu from area to area.
• Stimulus diffusion: This involves the spread of ideas and materials that are adapted or prompts a new
innovation. For example, Chipotle is not making subs like Subway, but they are adapting Subway’s
model of allowing customers to pick and choose the ingredients to build their tacos and taco bowls.
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Another fast food example is McDonald’s in India where they are applying stimulus diffusion to their
menu because instead of beef burgers they are serving veggie burgers. So, the pop culture of
McDonald’s has diffused there, but it has been adapted and does not look like the McDonald’s menu
you would see in the United States.
Cultural Geography and Globalization
Greiner (2018) states “Globalization refers to the greater interconnectedness and interdependence of
people and places around the world” (p. 13). Globalization is fueled by economic trade. While
globalization is not a new concept, it has rapidly accelerated in the past few hundred years. The
textbook focuses on contemporary globalization or globalization that has occurred since the 1960s.
Greiner (2018) lists five factors that have encouraged globalization. These include global market
expansion, technological advancements, lower transportation costs, expanded flow of financial
capital, and international and national policies making flow of information and goods easier.
Globalization impacts all of us in many different ways. What signs of globalization do you see in
your life? What pros and cons do you see in your community associated with globalization?
Greiner, A. L. (2018). Visualizing human geography: At home in a diverse world (3rd ed.). Wiley.
Suggested Unit Resources
In order to access the following resources, click the links below.
The transcript for each video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films
on Demand database.
This video explains the history of satellite mapping and global positioning systems (GPS). It discusses the
uses and benefits of these technologies.
Discovery Education (Producer). (2013). Satellite mapping and GPS [Video]. Films on Demand.
Steve Howard, the chief sustainability officer of Ikea, discusses the necessity of sustainable practices and
how businesses and communities can improve on sustainable practices to help protect the earth.
TED (Producer). (2013). TedTalks: Steve Howard—Let’s go all-in on selling sustainability [Video]. Films on
Learning Activities (Nongraded)
Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit
them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
1. Click here for a matching activity that covers some important terminology from Unit I. Click here for a
PDF version of the presentation.
2. Answer the Concept Check questions on pages 8, 18, and 23.
3. Complete the Chapter 1 Self-Test on page 26 of the textbook (Answers to Self-Test for Chapter 1 are
on page 359).