Biodiversity in Pennsylvania

In this module we discussed biodiversity and how it differs across many different environments throughout the world. For this assignment:

  1. In 150-200 words, discuss the biodiversity within your own area, and how human and environment factors have impacted the level of biodiversity you have come to know.
  2. In 150-200 words discuss one of the endangered species in your area and what factors led to this


I live in Port Matilda, PA, a small suburb 25 minutes outside of state college. My house lies within an area surrounded by forests, including many small creeks flowing through them. In my own backyard you can follow the woods back for miles before hitting another neighborhood. In the years that I have lived here I have encountered a great deal of biodiversity and a variety of different animals and plant life. Most commonly my backyard is full of deer, turkeys, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, etc, however I have seen many other animals as well. My house also falls in an area surrounded by farms, meaning I am directly exposed to cows, horses, pigs, goats, and a llama farm down the street. Unfortunately, many of these animals that live in the forests surrounding my home are at risk for extinction, most notably the mountain lion. Over the years factors such as water pollution, dam building and disease have threatened their lifestyle killing many. Many of these factors are directly related to the actions of people living in this area and we must take charge to protect the remaining species.


One of the species in my area that is at the most prominent risk for extinction is the Indiana Bat. It has been listed as an endangered since 1967 and is currently a priority species in the Pennsylvania state Wildlife Action Plan. The Indiana Bat is found only in 18 hibernation sites across the state, with only around 1,000 bats in total. The bats preferred habitat includes many very strict requirements such as airflow and temperatures falling only one degree above freezing. Of the hibernation sites across the state very few offer the conditions necessary for the bat’s survival. The main cause of their extinction is the presence and interference of humans. Human entry into the hibernation sites disturbs the bats and causes them to burn up their fat reserves, making survival in winter impossible. Similarly, with the continued loss of natural hibernation sites, humans have interfered to create manmade structures for the bats to use. Unfortunately these sites are prone to collapsing resulting in the death of more of this endangered species. We must make efforts to limit our involvement in the lives of these species leaving them with stable living sites prior to stepping away from their living situations, and allowing them to survive on their own.

Information found at:

Climate Change

Climate Change

My diagram focuses on the specific influences of climate change and how the Copenhagen accord has shaped efforts to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Climate change is a very prominent issue in today’s society. It begins with the burning of fossil fuels, which leads to the emission of greenhouse gases. These fossil fuels are burned by vehicles and industries and are used to power our cars, heat our homes, and run appliances. These seemingly mundane activities are contributing to the constant climatic change we can observe. The introduction of the Copenhagen Accord, while its intentions were good, lead to a lot of actions from our country that were less than respectable. As shown in my chart, the US used tactics such as bribery, spying/hacking, and hostility in order to coax allied countries into signing the accord. Poor and/or underprivileged countries were promises money in return for their signature of support, others were spied on and hacked in order to gain crucial information the US could use as leverage for their signature. Most notably, and least respectably, the US used acts of hostility and violence threatening the lives of those who did not sign the accord. While the Copenhagen Accord’s intended purpose was to work together in an effort to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases, the US likely created many less than stable relationships with allied countries in an effort to achieve this goal. Ultimately 140 countries signed the accord, but at what cost? We must consider the long term effects these behaviors had on the stability of our alliances.


While I do not necessarily believe that the State Department cables SHOULD have been made public, I think that it was important for that information to surface. I do not agree with the tactics used by the US government to coax allied countries into backing the Copenhagen Accord, and I believe it is crucial to call attention to these corrupt actions. However, access to such information could lead to backlash and consequences our country may not have necessarily been prepared to face. This issue is both interesting and disheartening to me. I firmly believe in the importance and promise behind the efforts of the Copenhagen Accord, and think that working towards more environmentally conscious alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels is crucial to the sustainability of this planet. However, these efforts were, as stated previously, almost overshadowed by the negative action taken by the US to insure that countries would back them. The US preyed upon chaos and instability in other countries for their own personal gain through the use of bribes and scare tactics. This particular situation is sticky however as the end gain was extremely positive for our environment, and this effort was entirely necessary. I believe however, that future efforts to protect our environment should me made not through brute force and promise of compensation, but as a united front working towards a common goal.

Module 8- Natural Hazard

My hometown is Port Matilda, Pennsylvania which is 25 minutes outside of State College. Located in central Pennsylvania, which falls in the northeastern corner of the US, Port Matilda is generally not very susceptible to most natural disasters. We are far away from any area that could be affected by a volcano. Port Matilda falls in zone 0 for earthquakes, having only one mild earthquake I can remember experiencing in my lifetime. We also fall in zone 0 for Tropical Cyclones, and are not categorized as being at risk of a tsunami or iceberg drift. We fall in zone 2 for hailstorms, zone 1 for extratropical (winter) storms, zone 2 for tornadoes, and zone 1 for wildfires. I believe the NATHAN map is very accurate as my town and most of Pennsylvania do not experience high levels of extreme weather or disaster of any form.


On March 31st, 2016 at 6:36 AM, a volcanic eruption occurred in Puebla, Mexico. While no people have been reported to be dead, and the damage level is unknown, I am certain that a disaster of this kind would have wreaked havoc on Port Matilda. I live in an incredibly small town with only 600 people populating it, and as the houses and buildings are set up almost side to side, a volcanic eruption would likely have wiped us out. The volcanic eruption reached heights of over 11,000 feet or almost 2 miles. A disaster of this size would easily wipe out all of my small town, which makes up approximately .6 square miles. Puebla, Mexico is made up of 281 square miles. An eruption of this size would only affect less than .01% of the town as a whole, while it would destroy 100% of my town as well as the surrounding areas. While my town would be incredibly vulnerable in the event of a volcanic eruption in my area, it is not realistic to say that we are currently vulnerable as there are no volcanoes near us, and it is impossible that we might be struck by a disaster of this kind. A volcanic eruption would have disastrous effects on the people of Port Matilda, as we have never experienced a disaster even slightly similar to this. We are in no way prepared for the types of mass damage that could be caused by a natural disaster of this kind, and therefore it would have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of people living here.


In researching the potential risk for natural hazards in Port Matilda, I came up very little as it falls in an area that is not overly susceptible to most natural disasters. We are at a very low risk for hail storms and tornadoes, and are most often susceptible to wind, thunderstorms, flooding and ice storms. Most notably, Port Matilda falls in a red zone for Radon exposure meaning that we are at the highest level of potential exposure, with radon screening levels falling above 4. This is very hazardous to the health of our residents. (Centre County)

Centre County, PA Radon Risk and Information. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from


Most of the hazards that face my town are not within our control, however we can work to be prepared for such situations. My high school was incredibly susceptible to flooding as our north building was built at the bottom of a slope down from the south building. Any time it rained heavily, the parking lot would flood to the height of student’s shins, causing a lot of problems for drivers and students crossing the street. Radon is a more pressing current issue, but I am not familiar with the process of radon exposure prevention and protection. I believe it is important to make people aware of the radon levels within their homes and encourage procedures for safe living and minimal exposure to protect health of residents.

Urban Planning

While I’ve always told people that I am from State College, Pennsylvania, I technically live in a small town just outside of State College called Port Matilda. Port Matilda can be separated into two parts, Residential and Downtown. The residential area (where my house is located) is an Automobile Suburb, while the “downtown” area is more of a Streetcar suburb. The town as a whole has just over 600 people. The town has very little to it outside of a salon inside my neighbor’s home, a small gas station, a pizza place, and one actual restaurant. The nearest grocery store is 25 minutes away, and the schools I attended over the years ranged anywhere from 20-35 minutes away. I have lived in this town for almost my entire life, attending the recreation program at the local community center, and cheerleading for the local youth league founded by my next door neighbor. I have a lot of love for this small town in its simplicity, even if I often wish it was closer to State College.

The first city I have chosen to focus on is Rochester, New York. The neighborhood featured in the picture looks almost identical to my own, and the city as a whole is very similar to my own. Similar to Port Matilda, this particular neighborhood falls outside of the more urban region of Rochester (or in my case State College), and has very little within walking distance. Similar to this neighborhood and its residents, my neighbors and myself must drive to get almost anywhere. I have become accustomed to driving a minimum of 20 minutes to get to most places I need to be. This Rochester suburb, is geared toward activity such as bicycling, walking, running, etc. in the neighborhood without fear of interruption from city traffic leading to safety concern.

The second city I have chosen to discuss is Boston, Massachusetts. Boston, specifically Beacon Hill, is very similar to State college in that it is a pedestrian oriented area. The town is set up strategically to make employment, food, entertainment, and shopping easy accessible through walking. While State College also includes access for cars, those who live downtown do not necessarily need one in order to have their needs met. This is similar to Boston as the appeal of walking and little necessity for travel, makes residents choose to do so. All of the stores and restaurants line two main streets, similar to that of Beacon Hill making everything easy to reach from any given point. There is plenty of access to housing for both students and families to take advantage of, making this an ideal place in which to live.

Food Choice and Social Norms

I grew up in a family that was always on the move. As my siblings and I all participated in sports and clubs, we rarely had the time to make/eat family dinners. As we got older and more involved, it became significantly harder to find the time to make a meal before leaving for our various activities, and more common that we would stop for fast food such as McDonald’s on the way to practices. Rather than preparing meals ahead of time, or buying healthy snacks to bring with us, we fed into the social norm of unhealthy fast foods being the solution to lack of time and money. Fast food has been socialized as the alternative to home cooked meals, as it saves time, effort, and money that might be spent on expensive groceries. However, alternatively, consumers are damaging their health by eating foods high in sodium and fat, all to save a few minutes that could be spent making a healthier alternative. I have since tried to break this habit and eat healthier.


Fast food consumption is one of the leading causes of Obesity in today’s society. While stopping for food rather than cooking may save you time and money in the long run, the negative effects it has on your health can take time off your life. Obesity can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, respiratory problems, diabetes, or death. This is an extremely pressing issue today as obesity rates, especially childhood obesity rates, are alarmingly high. Children are being introduced to these unhealthy habits at a young age and without education on nutrition they are likely to pass this habit down to their children. I believe that schools should focus on health and nutrition in order to provide children with the necessary education to lead a healthier lifestyle. I also believe that schools should provide healthier school lunches rather than cutting portion sizes of unhealthy foods in order to cut calories. Overall I think this knowledge and action will help to slowly reduce the childhood obesity rate in this country, and we can work towards a healthier future.

Food choice diagram

Water Tracking: Kaitlyn Baker


Part 1A: The water source for my hometown of Port Matilda, Pennsylvania begins with groundwater sources located in the Valley and Ridge province where there are limestone springs and wells. The water discharged from these sources is pumped through a wastewater treatment plant before being returned back into the groundwater system near the Spring Creek watershed in Ferguson Township through pumps and piping. This water is then distributed to local homes and businesses. When water is finished being used it is discharged into the sewage system before going back through the wastewater treatment cycle and into our water systems.

Part 1B: For this section I chose to record my water usage on a weekend day, as I was home for the large majority of the day and had time to do all of the necessary tasks around my apartment. These are my recordings for Sunday, February 7th.





10 Minutes


20 Gallons


Teeth Brushing


2 times


.5 Gallons

Hands/Face Washing  

10 Times


10 Gallons

Dishwashing by Hand  

1 Wash (5 Minutes)


10 Gallons


Clothes Washing


2 Loads


50 Gallons


Toilet Flush


8 times


16 Gallons


Glasses of water


16 Glasses


1 Gallon


Total: 107.5 Gallons


Part 1C: In preparing for this experiment I considered each activity, and the amount of water used before determining the necessity of each thing. I deemed teeth brushing, toilet flushing, and glasses of water to be necessary. While I typically shower every morning, I chose to shower the night prior to my experiment so as to cut down on my water use by a lot for the day I chose. Throughout the course of the day I only used paper/plastic products when eating to eliminate the need for washing dishes. I also prepared only foods that did not require water for cooking. When it came to drinking water, I limited myself to only 3 glasses of water (one at each meal). This proved to be the most difficult for me as I typically drink double (if not more) the recommended amount of water. I brushed my teeth once in the morning and once in the evening, being careful to turn the faucet off while brushing. Instead of washing my hands, I used hand sanitizer for the course of the day. Toilet flushing was the only activity I found troublesome to cut back on, but having only had 3 glasses of water, I only needed to flush the toilet 4 times. While I was unsuccessful in using only 2 gallons of water, I did cut back on my overall usage by almost 99 gallons, only using just over 8 gallons which I think is a huge success. This experiment was very eye opening, as I was forced to think about what is truly necessary each day. Having not had to ever limit myself, I’ve never considered how wasteful my habits are. Geography matters when it comes to water use, because not all people have the same resources and access to clean water. Those who live in areas where clean drinking water is scarce,  are likely far more frugal with their use of the water they DO have, whereas those living in a town such as state college, have readily available resources and therefore can use without thinking.

Ethics (questions 1, 2, and 6)

  1. It is more important to be a good person than to perform good acts. I believe this to be true because being a good person and doing good things are entirely different. Often, people who are not particularly good hearted, can perform seemingly charitable acts for their own personal gain. For example, I went to high school with a girl who was developmentally disabled, and mercilessly tormented by the “popular” kids in my school, as she regularly expressed her love for our school’s quarterback. This particular quarterback had known her since middle school and had always treated her with more cruelty than anyone else. Our school had a long standing tradition where on the school day preceding a home football game, players would give their jersey to a girl of their choice to wear in support. Prior to the final home game of his senior year, the quarterback, not moments after ridiculing her to his friends, offered the girl his jersey, making her dreams come true. The story spread throughout the school, and was featured in the local paper. The following week, the school board presented him with an award for his kindness. Although the quarterback continued to bully this girl following his seemingly charitable act, he basked in the praise and glory that came along with it. Thus, while he performed a good act, he was not then, and is not now a good person. One act of kindness cannot make up for years of torment.


  1. In almost all cases, the ends do justify the means. Often times, while something may be considered unethical in and of itself, its outcome justifies the action itself. A very controversial topic in today’s society is that of abortion. While I am personally pro-choice, many people believe abortion to be unethical regardless of circumstance. When having a child would be detrimental to the mother’s health, potentially resulting in death, can unethical means can be justified by the ends? In a situation of this kind, it becomes a debate of the value of human life, be that the life of the unborn fetus or its mother. While aborting the child may be unethical, it is necessary to save the life of its mother, and therefore the ends justifies the means.



  1. While I don’t believe my life to be worth more than another, I do believe that is important to put yourself first. As someone who has spent most of her life putting everyone before herself, I know the value of self-love and time spent on oneself. Altruism is incredibly important, but we would be naïve to think that being selfish under certain circumstances is fundamentally wrong. Perhaps the best example is airplane safety. When riding an airplane, it is common knowledge that in the event of an emergency you are to put on your own air mask before helping others. If you pass out for lack of air, you cannot assist others in wearing an air mask. Simply put, you are unable to help others if you do not first help yourself. Caring for yourself allows you to have the strength to take care of others.

Biogas system diagram


In my diagram I mapped how the use of wood vs. biogas use in cooking both positively and negatively affects the community and the people who live in it. I began by mapping the negative health and environmental impact wood burning has on the community. As mentioned in the video, the use of wood produces both excessive dirt and excessive smoke. This smoke has detrimental health impacts as it irritates eyes and can lead to chest infections. For women and children in low income families, this is a very common occurrence. I followed the progression of this negative impact on health and how it leads to a negative environmental impact, as well as its impact on mental health and stability. As the collection of wood is a time consuming and tedious task, adults need the help of their children. This keeps children from school and their school work, as they have little to no time for anything outside of this process. The environment is negatively impacted by the smoke, the use of the trees for wood, and the cow dung present in excess. I then switched my focus to the more positive impact that the use of biogas is having on the environment and the health of the citizens living within the community. Biogas eliminates some of the natural resources (cow dung) that make the community unclean and unsuitable, while creating methane gas for safe and clean cooking. This makes an economical impact in that the production of such gas leaves behind the materials with which to produce an organic compost. This compost production creates job opportunities for low income women, as well as increases profit for farmers whose product is improved by such compost. My diagram differs from the image shown as while in that diagram many of the elements are connected, my diagram follows two separate paths connected to the factor preceding or following itself.

Getting to Know you – Syed Amirul

Salam Sejahtera!

My name is Syed Amirul, I am currently a Senior majoring in Economics (BA). I have now lived in State College, Pennsylvania for four years, but I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (which was why I greeted you in Bahasa Malaysia- it means hello!). I have a keen interest in photography so I might pursue a career in doing commercial photography while helping my family run our business. My interest in this course is to generally learn about the Earth. I’m always interested in learning about the nature ( I took meteorology and astronomy classes) and I think learning geography will help me connect the dots between human and environment interaction and its effects towards one another. One fun fact about me- I can solve a Rubik’s cube in 40 seconds. If anyone could solve it faster, please teach me!

Now that we’ve been introduced to some perspectives in the field of geography, one example that came in mind was an issue that’s becoming a national controversy in my country. In Pahang, the largest state in Peninsula Malaysia, the government are being condemned after active bauxite mining that has turned into a harmful economic activity to the locals of the area. Many reports have address the issue and its negative impact, one coming from Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences chairman Dr Harinder Rai Singh who said the contamination would be fatal to marine life. The coast of Pahang are mostly contaminated and is bound to be ‘dead sea’ within three years. This issue is important to be scrutinized on, mainly on how the human-environment interaction caused these harmful conditions, and how that in turn will affect the lives of humans living in the vicinity of the polluted area.

Getting to Know You – James Sharer

Hey all. My name is James Sharer and I am a senior biology major at Penn State Main Campus. I’m from Downingtown, PA, which is about 3 hours from Penn State towards Philadelphia. I grew up with my parents, one older sister, and a multitude of dogs and parrots. I was recently accepted to a medical school in Philadelphia, and I am still waiting to hear back from multiple other schools. As for my career choice, I am very interested in many different specialties, but I don’t have to worry about making that decision for another 3 years or so. I’m excited to learn about the plethora of specialties that will be open to me after med school. I signed up for this course in order to satisfy my credit requirements so that I can graduate on time. Being a biology major, I have studied many topics that this course will touch on, so I thought it was a good fit for my interests.

I think that one of the most interesting and serious aspects of this course are human-environment interactions. Humans rely so heavily on their surrounding environments, that major changes in these environments often wreak havoc on the local population. One example, which was mentioned in the text, is the drought problems that California is facing. I spent this past summer in Venice Beach, California, and felt the effects of the drought. Driving to work in the mornings I would hear radio talk show hosts reminding people about conserving water, only to cut to a commercial break, which included helpful advice such as advising people not to water their lawns. Additionally, there were multiple instances where wildfires raged out of control, threatening people’s neighborhoods and homes. When I consider this situation in a geographical perspective, I cannot help but think about other countries in this world that may be facing similar problems. For example, the drought in California may seem bad to us because we have to cut back on water consumption, but at the same time a drought that is currently happening in Ethiopia on a much larger scale is taking hundreds of lives a day. There economic standing and local resources are much worse than California’s, making the drought in Ethiopia especially tough.

Getting to know- Adriana Buonocore

Hi! My name is Adriana and I am in my 3rd year of college. I was born in London, grew up in Los Angeles, and went to Italy for University. Now I am back in Los Angeles finishing my last year with Penn State. My major is International Affairs and I am considering getting further education in Psychology and eventually becoming a licensed psychotherapist. This course fits in with my major and I have an interest in learning how geographical aspects of the world interact with each other and how that effects the short and long term. I am excited to learn that this course also covers human interaction with the environment because I love learning about the psychological processes involved. I plan on really engaging in this course and am available if any other students want to work together!

In Module 1 sustainability and governance was brought up. The relationship between these two is extremely important because governance can sometimes hinder the full potential of sustainability. For example, climate change is a scientifically proven issue with data showing if we do not drastically change policy then major repercussions will follow. However, since society’s priorities are mainly short term or to increase financial income, barely any policies are being changed. It is expensive to be sustainable and nobody knows where this money will come from. However, Bernie Sanders, one of the U.S. Democratic Candidates, has voiced demands for policy changes. He wants the country to be self sustainable and turn away from fossil fuels and provide low-income families with solar energy. Hopefully we will see these changes soon and find out if it works well in practice.

Getting to Know – Maureen Awitty


My name is Maureen Awitty and this is my second semester at World Campus PSU.

-I currently live in Joppa MD, suburbs of Baltimore. I have been living here with family for over four months while I look for a place in the Washington DC area – where I work.

-I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. Growing up in a developing country exposed me to knowledge and encounters that I appreciate now more than ever. Like first-hand experience of East African’s natural resources, fluency in several languages, various cultural influences and exposures etc.

-I’m majoring in IST and aspiring to be a Computers and Information Systems Manager. Most organizations today, business entities small and large have some form of technology infrastructure and supportive resources. As a result I’m intrigued by the Information Technology discipline because it a continuously evolving part of an organization’s support.  In addition, IT Support is a growing industry as more businesses and organizations grow their online /data/ digital resources and offerings. Some of the challenges these modern organizations face is controlling big data and cyber security. Issues like cyber security are constantly changing into smarter and craftier catastrophes.

-My interest in Geography 030 is meeting the GS requirement for my major, getting a good grade and gaining knowledge of the Geography discipline particularly in sustainability.

-I love technology but don’t currently work in the field. I work very closely with the IT Dept. within my organization due to several cross-functional projects and collaborations. I am a Business Manager at a mid-size law firm in Washington DC, the commute is a killer.  I have extensive experience in operations management with a focus in the legal sector which I have been doing for the past twelve years.


Geographic perspective issue:

The human-environment interactions especially how human decisions are changing the natural environment is global concern today. The human-environment interaction involves keys points such as;

-How the natural environment shapes, controls and constrain human activities. For example, natural hazards like the blizzard Jonas that we are experiencing in the east coast this weekend. Millions of people will be constrained in their homes for at least of a couple of days as a result of the snow storm. This natural hazard will cause a lot of physical damage to structures, possible loss of human lives, and affect the economy as well.

-How human activities shape and change the natural environment like ecosystems, river systems, vegetation, and climate. This is known as Anthropocene.

-How human activities can exist without disrupting the functions of natural ecosystems, a concept which is also known as sustainability.

-Governance which covers how people make decisions and how they are constrained by external forces and structures to limit their range of options.

-Ethics which the prioritization of human needs at the expense of non-human needs.

The perspective of human-environment interactions is important because in its definition above it will impact survival of the human species, non-human species and the earth. Climate change plus lack of sustainability are direct causes of the human-environment interactions seen through deforestation in the Amazon and overfishing.  In addition, global warming resulting from climate change has been a hot topic and a global concern for our generation. Therefore governance, ethics and awareness of the negative impacts of human-environment interactions can encourage and preserve a sustainable environment.

Have a wonderful semester everyone!



Getting to know you-Siying Chen

Hi, my name is Siying Chen and I’m a junior student studying environmental resource management at penn state university park. I’m from Guangzhou, China but I came to study abroad in U.S. since 2013, and since I only go home once a year, I basically live here in state college now. Although I haven’t have a clear picture about my future, I would like to do something related to water or waste treatment in the future, but before that I may want to go to study in graduate school. I’m taking this course to fulfill the requirement of my geography minor, and I’m also really interested in sustainability, to me, sustainability is one of the reasons why I choose this major. Outside of school, I like to play guitar and travel, so far I’ve set foot on 10 different countries and I’m hoping to visit South America someday!

In module one, I learnt about human-environment interaction and I think it’s very important. One of the main reasons why people study geography is to fulfill human being’s needs for natural resources. Since natural resources may be exhausted someday, we need to find a sustainable way to fulfill our need and recover the environment at the same time. Thus more and more people become interested in sustainability. As for living in a sustainable way, developed countries such as U.S. do a much better job than developing countries like China, so I hope I can learn some of the sustainable methods that developed countries used and the effects of that, and hopefully one day I can contribute some help in protecting the environment in my own country.

Getting to Know You–Jessi Krugger

Hi, I’m Jessi Krugger. Yes, you pronounce my last name like Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street. I’m 26, and currently live in the middle of nowhere, also known as Independence, WV. I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and attended PSU Behrend for a while. I decided Erie was not where I wanted to be, so I transferred to WVU Spring of 2011. I got sick of the drunk kids in Morgantown, so I moved as far away from civilization as I could get without losing cell service entirely, and so here I am. I am currently a private math and science tutor at the high school level, as I switched out of a Physics major previously. I’d like to pursue a career in grid-level energy storage at the DOE or do some work on alternative energy upon graduating this program. Batteries and math make me so happy, and I love it. While this course is required, I’ve always taken an interest in this sort of thing, because one of the fellow nerds I chat with often on martini night at my local brewpub is a GIS tech for the West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey. It’ll be really nice to have more to contribute not only to those conversations but also the global conversations on climate change and our environment. I’m a data nut, so to be able to see trends on different scales in a better way will be awesome. Now that I’ve painted myself to be an uppity old man, I’ll further develop that happy little scene down below, much like a modern Bob Ross.

The issue that rings truest for me here in WV that can be looked at through the lens of geography has to be coal mining, and how it has adversely affected the beautiful mountain landscape, as well as the various watersheds via acid mine drainage. I’d imagine you could use GIS in addition to data gathered from field studies to paint a pretty grim picture of the landscape and how it has changed in the last few decades. Additionally, it could be used later to monitor cleanup.

Getting to know you: Emaleigh Glossner

Hi, I am Emaleigh Glossner, I am 19 years old and I currently living in Bellefonte which is where I grew up. Bellefonte is about 20 minutes away from the campus. I am a freshman and my major is Childhood and Early Adolescent Education PK-4 which means I want to be a preschool/elementary teacher. I know you are probably wondering why am I taking this class. Well first I am taking this class as a part of one of my science requirements for my major. Plus, I would like geography and would like to learn more about it.

One of the issues in the world is human-environment interactions. Humans can effect the environment and the environment can effect humans. First, the environment can effect humans by nature disasters and wildlife. Nature disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc. can disrupt people life. It can destroy homes, landscapes, and people. Human society can effect the environment. humans have been changing the world for years; Species extinct, global warming, pollution, and limited natural resources. We need to learn how to balance the human-environment interactions.

Getting to know you – Kessler Okoroafor

Hello, my name is Kessler Okoroafor. I am Nigerian but I was born and brought up in Surrey, England. I am currently a freshman in Penn State University Park and my intended major is Mechanical Engineering. I am taking this course for a general education credit. However, I am genuinely interested in this course because I want to learn more about the various social and environmental issues there are in the world.

Humans have had such a detrimental impact on the world which has lead to major issues such as climate change and global warming. Everyday we constantly burn and use crude oil to satisfy our daily needs for energy. Additionally, the natural resources we use such as wood, affect several ecosystems and natural animal habitats. It is important to find a way for humans and the environment to coexist sustainably.

Getting to Know You- Carmela Madrigal-Lua

Hello, everyone!
My name is Carmela Madrigal-Lua, but I go by Carmen. I am currently a sophomore at Penn State Mont Alto. I have spent most of my years in New Oxford, Pa, but I was born in California. My major is Early Childhood Education grades PreK-4 and I’m minoring in Criminal Justice. The age preference I would like to teach would be first grade, but I am more than happier to teach any grade because I love working with children. The reason why I am taking this course is because my major requires me to take. Although I think it is great because I can learn more about Geography. A fact about me is that I am the first one in my family to attend college. I have learned a lot so far from my college experience and I hope to continue to learn more throughout the remaining years.
Module one covered a lot of information that was very interesting. Although the one thing that stood out to me the most was human-environment interactions. In the reading, it said that it is the examination between ecological and social systems. It also talked about the many things that are under threat because of dry conditions, for example, there has been the shortage in water and wildfires. Another interesting point that I read in the reading was how human decisions can make a change on the natural environment which is also known as governance. I personally think that this is important to know because if we do not understand how much a human can impact the environment we will continue to harm it as the years pass.

Getting to Know You – Erica Golden

My name is Erica Golden and I just moved back to Chicago after a couple of years living in Texas for work. I have lived in multiple areas of the United States and China over the last 10 years, which has been amazing, but I am glad to be back in the midwest. I have worked for Apple for more than a decade in Human Resources and do a significant amount of travel. I am interested in this course because I have always cared deeply about environmental issues, but because I also travel, I am taking this course to enhance my understanding of the different environments I am in.

Working in Human Resources as long as I have, I am surprised by the number of leaders I interact with that do not believe that their environment has shaped their perspective on their beliefs or, simply, their views on people. The clip from The West Wing from the first lesson is one of my favorites from that series because of what it isolated out: the inherent judgement we may have that is derived from things we may have never questioned. I think that geography can help level some of those inaccurate perspectives that may increase ego or decrease the value weight of a people from a particular part of the world because of the way that others see it (read: small).

Jiye Choi – getting to know you


My name is Jiye Choi, and I’m a junior at Penn State, university park campus. I went high school reading, Pennsylvania. I am originally from South Korea. My parents live in Korea and I have one Chihuahua. I’m majoring in Energy engineering which I think it has close relationship with geography. The major reason why I’m taking this course is to fulfill my general education credit. Although there were several other options to choose, I selected this course because I was interested in geography. However, I didn’t have enough knowledge about geography before. I thought geography equals just reading a map. But geography was more than that. It is necessary to understanding where we live and to know the relationship between human and environment and more.

Today, overall world population is increasing gradually. In 2014, the world population exceeds 7 billion.  In global scale we can say it’s increasing however, if we observe closer to the local scale it is not same as global scale. For example, in Korea, experts predict drastic a decrease in population. It is because of low birthrate and elderly society.  And what makes me interesting is all of this never caused by itself. The low birthrate is also related to economic, political, educational issues. It’s very interesting that our world is all interact each other but there are differences all over the world.

Module 1 – Annaliese Long

Hi, my name is Annaliese Long and I am a freshman here at Penn State University. So right now, I live in University Park, PA at Penn State, but I grew up in Pottstown, PA. Pottstown is a town in the suburbs about an hour outside of Philadelphia, near King of Prussia. I love my hometown because it is a great location and has great scenery of Pennsylvania. I am thinking of pursuing biomedical engineering with a possible minor in leadership development. I am taking this course because I have always been really interested in the environment and geography ever since I was younger, but more recently I have become interested in sustainability around the world. Some of my hobbies include all kinds of sports, whether I’m playing or I’m watching, traveling the world, hanging out with my friends, and trying new things.

An issue that I am very passionate about and that geography would be well suited to address is the topic of climate change and/or global warming. Geography, in the most basic sense, means the study of the earth, but it can also describe the human impacts on the environment. In recent years, the average temperature of the earth has increased which is causing major changes to the environment. It is important for people to understand what climate change is because it affects all of us. There is a significant amount of species that are going extinct because of the climate change. Not only are the animals being affected, but mostly all ecosystems are impacted as well. This is a huge, yet important, problem because the earth is our home and it won’t be able to sustain us if we do not take care of it.

Getting to know You – Module 1

Hey everyone my name is Akiksha Mathur and I am a freshman at Penn State University Park. I’m currently undecided probably going to major in Marketing and Economics. I grew up in New Delhi, India. Penn state is literally a home away from home now though its very different in all aspects from where I come from. I only had one geography course throughout high school and completely loved it which is the main reason I want to learn more about this subject. Another reason I took this course is that I am very curious to learn about the activities going on the Earth’s surface. A fun fact about me is I have a bachelors degree in Indian Classical Dance Bharatanatyam. Apart from this I play guitar and read books in my free time.

One issue that I think Geography will be able to address is the concept of Sustainability. Noticing the changes in climate and environment over the past few years I think we all can conclude that human decision making and processes siginificantly affect the natural ecosystems, habitats, river systems, vegetation and climate. If we don’t act smart and realize the consequences of our decisions we will definitely do an irreversible damage to our environment. I believe if we address this issue now, we can still preserve our Mother Earth from further degrading.

Getting to Know Michael Celoni

Hey everyone! My name is Michael Celoni and I am a junior at Penn State’s main campus studying Environmental Systems Engineering. I’m from Blue Bell, Pa which is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Philly. Ideally I’d like to do something engineering related for a career (hence the major) but I’m keeping my mind open for all options. I want to be an environmental and civil engineer and do work for clients related to that because that’s what my dad does. I’d love to work on designing energy efficient buildings. I’m interested in the course because I don’t know a whole lot about geography and I think a class like this is absolutely necessary if I want to follow my major. When I’m not doing school work I’m either on Spotify or Netflix all the time. I also love playing video games (Xbox One if anyone is wondering).

The key word that stood out to me in the first module was sustainability. I believe it’s important for the whole human race to keep the idea of sustainability in their heads as we progress into the 21st century and beyond. With global warming becoming more of an issue and pollution increasing, it is vital that we learn to take care of our planet. We only get one Earth to live on (as far as we know) and it could potentially be completely ruined by the time I have grandkids. There’s a Greek proverb that goes, “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in,” and I believe that’s the kind of mindset we need to have when working towards saving our planet.


Andrea Garbrick- Getting to Know You

My name is Andrea Garbrick and I am currently living in downtown State College, PA because I am also taking classes at Penn State Main Campus. I actually grew up here and am what people around here like to call a “townie.” I am a senior in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management (RPTM) and I plan to move to the West Coast to pursue a career in event management for a stadium or arena! This course interest me because in my major we learn a lot about sustainability and travel which I believe are aspects that are very important to this course. Since I have lived in Central Pennsylvania my entire life I would like to travel a lot after I graduate and I think this course can really help me learn about some different places I could travel to for all the right reasons.

Since I would one day like to travel somewhere, I would like to make it to somewhere that would not only give me the privilege of travel but to also benefit others or an entire community through the way they sustain life where they live. This would give me an opportunity to learn about their ecosystem in which I hope to learn about in this course and how to hopefully improve upon in the given community. This would be a time where we could really learn about how humans impact the environment and what they can stop doing or do to make things better.

Hannah Levine

Good afternoon, my name is Hannah Levine.  I am a junior studying Public Relations in the College of Communications, and I have minors in Information Sciences & Technology (IST) and Military Studies.  I am currently in Penn State’s Army ROTC program.  Upon graduation, I am hoping to commission as an officer in Military Intelligence.  I have lived in New Jersey and Virginia, but I moved to Pennsylvania in 2001, where I have lived ever since.  I live in a town outside of Hazleton called Sugarloaf, which is in northeastern PA.  Geography interests me for a couple of reasons.  My family and I have had the opportunity to travel to several foreign countries, and it is always fun to learn about other cultures.  Another reason is the fact that geography is a crucial aspect of every occupation.  As a future intelligence officer, it will be my job to gather all types of data, analyze the physical and human geography, and synthesize a clear idea of a situation.

One issue that especially stands out to me is the problem of visualization.  From charts to diagrams to map projections, any visual presentation can be distorted.  The creators of such may distort their map’s presentation for more user-friendliness purposes, based on bias, or from a misuse of projection.  Projection is a representation of a surface such as Earth’s round sphere to a two-dimensional map.  Considering all map projections are flawed in some fashion, it shapes people’s attitudes and beliefs in different ways.  I believe projection is one of the greatest challenges in geography, because it all depends upon the purpose of the map and creating the appropriate visualization.  This issue speaks to me personally because as someone who will be analyzing maps of cities and terrain, it is essential to understand the projection scheme and the intended visualization.

Jason Cruz: Getting to know you

My name is Jason Cruz. I currently live in Scranton only about five minutes from Worthington Scranton. I grew up in the tip of northeastern PA in a town called Lakewood. My major is Information Sciences and Technology with a minor in Security Risk Analysis. As if now I am not sure where I would like to go after school, just looking for a decent company that keeps me interested in the IT field. I am taking this course as an elective to satisfy a natural science credit required for general education. I always had a slight interest in parts of history and geography all throughout schooling hence the reason I chose this class. Some fun facts about myself, I am a tire technician at Sam’s Club and in between classes I enjoy playing table tennis competitively.

A topic that interests me is the interaction between social and ecological systems. This is also quite the talked about topic as well considering there is usually some talk of a movement, protest, law, etc. when it comes to the environment and how humans effect it. At the same time nature has its effects on humans when you think about things like natural disasters such as the drought mentioned in the module in California (2012-2014). Even today, California still has wildfires that destroy acres of crops and forests both in which humans use as well as wild animals. The issue lies within the sustainability of both social and ecological systems. It is obvious that the environment would exist and flourish without human interaction however, does the same go in the opposite direction? Is our governance too loosely handled  to the point that human interaction possible prohibits environmental growth?

Getting to Know Aaliyah Snell

Hello all! I am originally from Pittsburgh,PA. Currently, I am a junior majoring in Supply Chain and Information Systems with a minor in the Legal Environment of Business.  I attend Penn State University Park. However, this semester I am in Philadelphia participating in a co-op. I am on the path to pursuing a career in supply chain or procurement. However, I have begun to really enjoy my minor and some of the elective courses I have taken so a career in law could be in my future. I am interested in this course because I have always loved social science and natural science courses. I think this course will provide a hybrid of the two subjects. As an added bonus to studying a subject that I enjoy, this course satisfies my International Cultures requirement.


An important issue that came to mind when reading the lesson were changes to the natural environment that can affect entire industries. The example referenced in the lesson talks about the drought in California that has caused agriculture, tourism, and recreational industries to suffer. This made me think about the lack of snow we have received this winter (or at least in the area where I live). On a personal scale, the lack of snow and cold weather has been great. I don’t have to dig my car out of the snow or worry about slipping on ice. However, after reading the lesson I now see that this weather change could have a huge negative impact on businesses that require snow,such as ski lodges. This is an important issue because it will affect many people who have jobs that rely on cold weather. This will also affect people who enjoy participating in cold weather activities.

Getting to Know You

Hello Everyone!

My name is Shoheb Sarwar and I’m in my first semester as a student in the world campus as a finance major. I was born in Bangladesh and came over to America with my family when I was seven years old. In 2008, I moved to Brooklyn, NY to live with some relatives, but am now back in Philadelphia, PA which is where I’ve lived and grew up ever since I came to the States. I currently work as a business analyst for an orthopedic hospital, and plan on either growing within this company once I graduate or pursue something in the investment banking industry. My main goals however is to eventually become the director of finance and accounting, then work on my MBA to hopefully continue growing. One of the reasons I am taking this course to be honest is because this was one of the few classes available when I was registering, and also because I’ve always enjoyed geography in school. Some other facts about me, to put into one word, would be sports. I’ve always played football and basketball growing up, but the years of physical contact has taken a toll on me. Which is why I look forward to summer every year to get out on the golf course now.

While reading through this module, the one topic that stood out most to me is human-environment interactions. I can recall from this past Christmas how we experienced 75 degree weather on Christmas day. Never did I ever imagine playing golf, in the east coast, on Christmas! First thing I could think of was global warming, it’s happening right before our eyes. Everything in this section from sustainability, governance, and ethics are all topics that I want to learn more about. These are things that actually get brought up in conversations amongst my friends, and I am looking forward to learning more about it as they are things that affect the world we live in.

Getting To Know You- Haley Overton

Hi guys! My name is Haley Overton and I’m a sophomore here at Penn State from Doylestown, PA. I currently live on campus in South on my sorority floor. I started off in the College of Education as a World Language Education major intending to become a Spanish teacher. After last semester I decided that wasn’t for me and now I am an Early Education (K-4) major. I can’t wait to become a teacher and work with kids everyday. I also plan on studying abroad, hopefully in Barcelona. In my free time I spend a lot of time with my friends and participate in activities through my sorority Gamma Phi Beta. I needed to take this course to fulfill a requirement but I look forward to learning some new information. since I don’t know much about geography.

The part in this module that stuck out the most to me was the part concerning global warming. I feel like this is something we hear so much about but it is so easy to forget how serious it really is. After reading the first lesson I learned how much we affect the earth and have such a strong impact on global warming. I find that it’s easy to forget how much our actions now will really affect things in the future. Reading this stuff is scary but I think it’s important that everyone is aware of what’s going on when it comes to global warming.

M01- Getting to Know Me: Akshat Rajan

Hey guys! My name is Akshat Rajan and I’m a senior at Penn State University Park, majoring in Biology-Neuroscience. I will be graduating this May.  While I’m in State College during the semester, I currently live in Princeton NJ right by the university. I was born in India and briefly lived in Singapore and Canada, before settling down in New Jersey for the past 12 years. I’m involved with THON here at PSU and a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team. I love filming and photography in my free time. I plan on becoming a physician and will attend medical school after I graduate from Penn State. I plan on taking a gap year before that so I will be entering medical school in the fall of 2017.

This geography class interests me since I would like to learn more about the environment, environmental sustainability, and the mutual relationship between Earth, the environment, and geography. I’ve traveled and lived in many parts of the world, and  seen the way different countries respond to their respective environment and geography and would love to learn more about these topics in a better organized manner.

A big issue in geography right now to me is food and crop maintenance. This not only involves preserving land with fertile soil for farming, but also the preservation of crops. Pollution as well as frequent pesticide use has led to many crops developing pesticide-resistant and antibiotic- resistant organisms present in soils. This has increased the burden placed on farmers to ensure and satisfy safety protocols with their produce. Pollution from the construction of cities and buildings have made farm lands more desirable and expensive. Many farmers who have run their farms from generation to generation are finding that it is more profitable to sell their land to the local township rather than to sell their produce. Since everyone is eager to buy land to build more houses and commercial buildings, it is rather enticing for farmers to sell their lands. Another issue in food production is with overpopulation and therefore a higher demand for certain produce. Foods such as fish and shark are greatly over-harvested in coastal regions by the water. Many of these produces are shipped internationally, with barely any produce remaining in the origin location. Better regulations must be taken to ensure produce is spread about the world evenly.


Getting To Know You: M01, GEOG 30


Hello Class! My name is Jordan Dodderer. I am originally from Johnstown, Ohio but have since moved to Los Angeles, CA where I am a professional dancer for television, movies and music artists. It was always a dream of mine to pursue a dance career and the past 7 years have afforded me a great career in the entertainment industry. Another lifelong dream of mine was to receive my college diploma and so, I am pursuing my degree in Political Science through Penn State University World Campus. My pursuit of the degree at this point in time is really just to enhance my knowledge of the world at large and engage in thoughtful discussions in an academic setting. However, I am open to a future career change that is engaged in the political spectrum. I am taking this course in connection with understanding the political nature of human-environment interactions. I am excited to explore this area of study with you all!


The issue of governance resonates strongly with me as a resident of Southern California. The policy decisions made by governance have greatly affected our water resources and lead the region into a major drought in recent years. Many cities have enforced strict regulations on water usage, while others have enforced greater taxes on water consumption. Politically, the state has refused to impose these same regulations on farmers. I find this of particular interest in regards to the social aspect of human environment interactions and governance. Policy makers clearly regard that water is vital to the agriculture industry and keeping the land fertile with unrestricted water usage continues to drain the state water supply even as city residents continue to reduce their consumption effectively. Of course, there are no right and wrong answers to the policy debate, but I this specific example from my own experience came to mind as I read the descriptions of the importance of governance within Geography.

Kyle Hoke – Getting to Know Me

My name is Kyle Hoke and I am a senior here at Penn State. I am from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and that is in the northeast region also known as the Poconos. I was born and raised there, so I’m proud to call the Poconos my home. I am majoring in Supply Chain in the Smeal College of Business and I am currently in the process of interviewing with companies for a supply chain management position. I have interned with a company called Sanofi Pasteur, a vaccine company. My interest in this course has a lot to do with sustainability and how geography relates to that. Here at Penn State, I am the President of the Roar Zone, which is the hockey student section. I’ve been involved with the student section since the Pegula Ice Arena opened its doors, and worked with some fellow students to make the Roar Zone an official student organization.

As I stated above, I am interested in the human-environment interaction aspect of the course. Business is trending towards “going green” and sustainability. Businesses make decisions on a daily basis that affect the natural environment. Having the knowledge about how decisions can be made without disrupting ecosystems will be a great advantage as the world uses its resources faster and faster. Sustainability has become a hugely important topic, and as a result many organizations have created entire departments headed by a Chief Sustainability Officer. Also, as a supply chain manager, I could be responsible for many aspects of the supply chain. For example, as a purchasing manager, there are ethical decisions that must be made to minimize the environmental impacts of shipping goods and products around the globe.

Getting to Know You- Megan Shrout

My name is Megan Shrout, and I am a third year architecture student at the Pennsylvania State University’s main campus. University Park is Penn State’s only campus that offers this bachelor and I have dreamed of becoming an architect since I was in second grade. I live on campus during the school year; in the summer, I reside close to 20 minutes away in the rural town of Petersburg (on a farm I might add). It’s about five minutes away from Penn State’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Where I live you can see the milky way every night unless its cloudy. I’ve always appreciated nature’s beauty, but working on a farm really gives you a strong perspective on how you impact the environment and how it impacts you. I took personal interest in this course because I believe seeing environments from different perspectives and learning about “green approaches” will help develop my future (architecture) design impacts and decisions.

Being in architecture, I’ve learned about manipulating landscapes to incorporate my designs. Recently, I had to design a visitor center for the Farnsworth House (1945-1951). It was a residential project by Mies van der Rohe that is situated five feet above the ground (by I-beams) which resides in a floodplain in Illinois. Originally the design worked to keep the waters from entering the house, but over time (and residential development upstream) the house now floods seasonally. If Mies van der Rohe had access to the advanced capabilities that geographers have/produce today, he may have been able to extrapolate a higher flood line to design to. Understanding the site through a temporal aspect, such as estimating the future developments of the area, is a large design consideration that architects need to address.

Getting to Know You

Hello all! I am Gilberto Aponte Prats. I currently live in State College, but I originate from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I am an IST Design & Development major, and I want to pursue the career of being a front-end developer (AKA make user interfaces in software). This course really interests me because geology is among the fields of science I know the least of, but I hold a very strong liking to all natural sciences. I want to know more how humans affect the Earth, given that the amount of evidence we can find of us affecting our planet is without a doubt. I love fiddling around with computers, play a lot of video games, listen to electronic music as my main genre. Essentially my life revolves around computers.

Something of great deal I have been seeing lately is the effect we have on our climate this year, and how many have resorted to basically ignore the fact that we have always had an effect in our environment since the beginning of the homo sapiens. Human-Environment interactions has a really long history, yet today many decide to think we don’t. We are reaching a point where sustainability is a real issue and the way we have used our resources in an incredibly greedy way. In today’s situation we’re reaching the point where governance with ethics will be necessary, not only to be fair, but to guarantee the survival of our society. Ethics also goes not only at the expense of non-humans anymore, what we do has a direct effect in the health of other people, as we can see in China with Beijing having an incredibly dangerous smog problem.

Getting to know you

Hi, my name is Devin Walk. I am a freshman majoring in Civil Engineering. I’m from Bellefonte, PA which is about 10 minutes from University Park, and that’s where I grew up. My ultimate goal with earning my degree is to become a project manager for various construction jobs. I chose to take this class because I thought it would be interesting to learn how geography could affect the field I’m interested in studying.

Reading through Module 1, one key issue that stuck with me was the drought issue in California. The pictures of Folsom Lake from 2011 and 2014 were unbelievable. It just goes to show that when resources aren’t being properly sustained, they can be used up and sometimes you won’t be able to get it back- like nonrenewable resources.

Getting to Know Steven DeAngelis

Hi everyone! My name is Steven DeAngelis and I am a senior studying Telecommunications. I currently live in State College, but I am originally from Farmingdale, New York on Long Island. After graduation I hope to work for a company in New York City called Situation Interactive as a Media Strategy intern. I currently have no idea what career I want to pursue, but I hope to get my foot in the door at a media company and see where life takes me. I am interested in this course because I have never taken a geography course in college, so I hope to learn something new. When I’m not working on my studies I love to play and watch sports, specifically baseball (Let’s Go Mets!). I also am currently working on a TV show here at Penn State for PSNtv where I am a writer and producer.


While reading the information in the first module the issue of interactions between humans and the world stuck out to me. We all know about global warming, but we are not sure how this affects the world we live in and the future of the world. I think that studying the Environment and Society Geography section of this course coupled with the Human Geography section will provide a lot more insight into the topic. Having grown up just 30 minutes outside the greatest city in the world (Sorry, Philly residents), I have always been fascinated by the sheer amount of people that live and work in New York City and studying how these societies popped up around the world is very intriguing.

Getting to Know You

Hello everyone! My name is Landon Brenize and for this semester, I am not actually living in State College. I am a Junior currently still attending Penn State, but for the semester, I am living in Maryland and have an internship working with CohnReznick in D.C. I am originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and I am majoring in Accounting. I plan on going for my CPA after I graduate college. I never actually have taken a Geography class in college before and I was interested in seeing if I would like it and want to pursue more classes or not.

Growing up, my grandpa farmed and my family hunted and there was always food on the table. We impacted the nature and everyone around us. In module one, we talked about globalization and sustainability. Everything we do has some impact on the people around us or on nature. I believe that it is important for there to a good balance between the two in order keep doing what we want without worrying about things disappearing.

Getting to know Ranee Perricone

Hello from Honesdale PA! I am a senior in mechanical engineering working on a minor in energy, business, and finance. I grew up in Honesdale Pa and only left for school and am back now that I am only taking online classes. Rent is cheap at home. While I am home I like to participate in sports. Everything from watching, playing, coaching and officiating. I am pursuing the mechanical engineering, with no idea what I want to do with it. I have things I am leaning toward but will probably end up working for a larger manufacturing company to start. Someday I would love to work in consulting. This course is a requirement for another class I am hoping to take but I am looking forward to learning more about geography and sustainability.

An issue is that interesting to me is the impact of developing nations on the environment because they do not have the same restrictions as the more developed nations have adapted. Inducing these countries into programs such as Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) would not only help the environment of those countries but also the environment of the whole planet. There should be greater efforts to educate those in developing countries of their impacts, large and small. Individuals could help start recycling programs and conserving resources to make a difference even if the country as a whole did not partake in the efforts.

Gavin Collins Module 1 Blog

Hello my name is Gavin Collins, I am from Woodbridge Virginia and live currently just below D.C. in Northern Virginia. I am a sophomore here at Penn State pursuing a degree in Economics. With this degree I eventually hope to run my own business. I am the oldest from a large family of seven. I am a member of America’s only outdoor interest fraternity, Tau Phi Delta. My Hobbies include hunting, fishing, and playing the guitar.   I am interested in this course because I took an Oceanology course in high school and was always interested in the ocean. I felt that the units covered on plate tectonics and geography of the ocean was very interesting.   I think that this class will help me gain knowledge on how I can help to sustain the earth.


Being that I live close to D.C., the Potomac River as you may know runs between Virginia and D.C. It is one of my favorite places to fish. Over the past couple years the water running in this river has been heavily polluted, not just with human trash but runoff from erosion of tributaries up stream. This movement of earth has caused the Chesapeake Bay to collect large amounts of sediment and dirt causing harm to fish and other species that live in the Bay. Geographic assessment of these dire conditions might be able to help to sustain the health of the bay with more water drainage technology. Looking at the Potomac is on the smaller spatial scale of it just being a river, but if the pollution of the river changed it would directly affect the Bay’s health.

Getting to Know You- Michael Simons

Hey everybody! My name is Michael Simons and I am a sophomore studying Early Childhood Education. I live on campus in Nittany Hall right now. I am from Long Island New York. Specifically in Lindenhurst if anyone happens to be from Long Island. I plan to pursue a career in Teaching. My specific area of study is pre k-4. But if I had to choose I would want to be a second or third grade teacher. I am interested in this course because I have never really taken a geography class and I feel like this is a subject that I lack in because I have never been taught the importance of it through my own education. I guess an interesting fact about me would be that I am an Eagle Scout.


While doing the first module in occurred to me the importance of global warming and how we affect the world itself. Its very interesting to me that by what decisions we make now can make a huge difference in the future (both negatively and positively). In the first lesson we learned about how us humans interact with our environment and how the sustainability concept applies to various modules later in the course. I believe that Global warming is a huge issue because it can determine how much longer humans can inhabit the earth.

David Youn Post 1

Hello classmates, my name is David Youn and I am a chemistry major. I am expected to graduate this semester and planning on going to graduate school for biomedical engineering or biochemistry. Currently, I plan to pursue a career as a research professor at a big institution like Penn State. Answering unanswered scientific questions is a great interest to me. I love studying proteins and trying to find a applicable use for it. I currently live in State College, PA and attending the main campus. Most of my life I grew up in a small town called Cherry Hill, NJ, which is located about 30 minutes from Philadelphia. However, I was born in Seoul, South Korea, where I lived my first 9 years of my life. Both United States and South Korea have their pluses and minuses, but if I were to choose a place to live, I would choose United States because of there are more easy going people. I have a decent interest in this course because I know that lot of human actions effects the environment. I want to develop methods to reduce chemical wastes to prevent further harming the world.

Ever since I was a young kid, I had lot of interest in the environment. I was fascinated by what the nature was showing, especially the mountains. However, there were many incidents in which humans were destroying the nature by mountain fires, oil spills, and not efficiently decomposing waste such as plastic. I believe that in recent years, humans have been taking advantage of what the nature is providing. In the near future, it is projected that we will run of coals and oils to power the every necessities that we need. It was so shocking to see that Lake Folsom completely dried out within four years. It could be possible that due to climate changes the lake dried out, but I believe that human interactions had more effect on it. These are all things that we can change, but we have not. It is easy to prevent wildfires by not throwing away cigarette butts and not bring fire prone materials. We should be more considerate of the nature because without it the world won’t be the place that it used to be.

Getting To Know You – Dylan Hellings

Hi, my name is Dylan Hellings and I am a sophomore at University Park on track to graduate in Fall of 2017. I am majoring in Security & Risk Analysis (Information & Cyber Security Option) and minoring in Information Sciences & Technology and Political Government. While in State College I live in West Halls and while I am not at school I live in Plymouth Meeting, PA where I grew up. Like many people at State College, I live in a town that is “right outside of Philly.” I am pursuing a career as a Cyber Security Analyst or a Cyber Threat Analyst. In my free time I like to play video games, my favorites being Rocket League and World of Warcraft. GEOG 030 interests me because I believe it is an important subject that is often looked over as many people do not recognize how geography has historically influenced governments, globalization, and several other aspects of the world we know today.

There is much more to geography than your elementary school quiz where you had to memorize the location of all 50 states. Geography spans from several facets of our experiences and influences including cultural, political, economic, etc. Due to globalization and the swift growth of technology, elements of geography that may have limited or confined humans have been put aside. Although there may no longer be constraints on communication due to an ocean or a mountain blocking your path to reach another person, there are still several components of human-environment interactions that affect modern day people. There are ecosystems that exist that can be harnessed and appreciated in different ways. Humans and the environment co-evolve  and co-adapt together.

Getting to Know Jim Shaud

Hello, my name is Jim Shaud. I’m a Senior here at University Park, State College. I am originally from the area of Swarthmore in Delaware County, about fifteen minutes out from Philadelphia. I am an undergraduate in the Smeal College of Business working towards a bachelors of science in Accounting. I start working as a tax accountant in Washington D.C. this summer. I love watching football and basically all sports. I passionately support the Eagles. I also enjoy playing video games like Fallout 4, lounging around with my friends, and listening to new music. This is my final semester at Penn State so I am definitely going to make the most of the time, being with my friends and having fun as much as possible. I hope to gain a better understanding of how people can affect and utilize geography around both in practical work and culture. Also the impact geography has on local environmental policies and other laws is something I look forward to getting a better grasp on.


In the social science perspective, it is very interesting to read about the human interactions with geography. It reminds me of a presentation that my group did in Intermediate Financial Accounting on the triple bottom line approach of accounting. This basically amounts to an environmental policy in which all impacts on society are taken into a profit margin. Financially measuring a company’s geological and overall environmental impact is a very tough thing to quantify but a very interesting and useful concept, one that I find very important. Overall, the mutual relationship between humans and the environment is key. Understand the world and our place in it is a fascinating and very important objective.

Getting to Know You – Katie Greiner

My name is Katie Greiner. I am senior and an Elementary and Adolescent Education Major with minors in Deafness and Hearing Studies and Special Education at the University Park Campus. I currently live in State College, PA, but I am from a small town outside of Philadelphia Area. After I receive my bachelor’s degree, I want to go to graduate school for Special Education. My goal after graduate school is to work as a Special Education Teacher in an elementary school setting. I am taking this course to fulfill a major requirement. An interesting fact about me is that I love to travel. I have been to Asia and Europe and will be completing my student teaching in New Zealand.

An environment issue discussed in the Module 1 that is important is the concept of ethics. The concept of ethics discussed the ecological costs of humans conducting environmental changes. This issue is important because many humans neglect to think about how much they impact their own environment. Littering is a great example of how individuals can impact their own community by neglecting to throw away their trash properly and harming the ecological system that they live in. Littering can become a great issue in a community and ecological environment, if the problem is not stopped and controlled. There are many other small ways that humans negatively impact the environment on an individual scale, such as not recycling, all the way to a global scale, pollution for example.

Getting to Know You – Kelsey Shoepe

Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Shoepe and I am a junior studying Rehabilitation and Human Services in the College of Education. I am currently living in an apartment just off of Atherton. I was born in Hazleton, PA but moved to Texas when I was around 5. I have lived there ever since. After graduation I plan on moving back to Texas to work with students, most likely elementary or middle school students. I would like to work with students who have disabilities, most likely as an inclusion resource into the classroom for students in the special education program. I am interested in the course because the only time I have ever taken a geography course was in high school. I would love to learn more about the general concepts. I guess an interesting fact about myself would be that I have two tattoos – which are both the handwritings of my grandparents.

After going through this first module the one thing that struck me as interesting was how when people make decisions it will ultimately have some type of effect on the Earth’s ecosystems. I would love to learn more about what decisions are being made that have had such a large impact on the Earth and what will happen if people continue to make these choices. I can already tell that this class will be very different from the one I took in high school because then all we had to do was memorize a map of different countries, cities, states, etc. This class (already) seems to be much more in depth about certain aspects of geography and the who, what, when, where, why and how of the topics we will be covering.

Getting to Know You – Ryan Gebhardt

Hello, my name is Ryan Gebhardt. I’m a sophomore here at University Park, State College, PA. I am originally from the small town of Delran in New Jersey, a few minutes out from Philadelphia. I am an undergraduate in the College of Engineering and the major I’m working towards is Electrical Engineering. I have an interest in programming and enjoy to play video games in my spare time. My favorite game being Dota 2 which I have even joined a club for it here at Penn State. I’m looking to join more clubs this semester to further look into my interests and make more connections. What I hope to gain from this course is a better understanding of how people affect and use the geography around them through culture and necessity. I’m also interested in the political side of geography and how decisions in congress may be able affect our view of the world.

An important issue that I’m interested in the the first module brings up is how governance affects geography. The natural world around us is subject to many human forces, which are more or less controlled by the governing body located in that area. Decisions made by policy makers or despots can now affect issues all over the world thanks to globalization and the connectedness of modern society. We are in an age that is beginning to understand that every action we take as both groups and individuals affects the planet in its own way. Government decisions related to economy and trade can be especially impactful since it encourages or discourages production of goods, which often either adds to or takes away sources of environmental damage.

Getting to Know Dorish Nguyen

Hello! My name is Dorish and I am currently a freshman at Penn State University Park with an intended major of aerospace engineering. I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, where the University of Notre Dame is located. I have lived here my entire life until recently when I decided to make the trek to State College, Pennsylvania in order to be here at Penn State. Currently, I am a part of Phi Sigma Rho sorority and currently serve as fundraising chair. I chose to study aerospace engineering because I truly feel like I can make a difference in the world. I joined this course due to its description for being a “geographic perspective on sustainability and human environment systems,” which I believe fits the interest of what I want to do in aerospace engineering. I am very interested in air and space craft and believe that as an engineer, I can hopefully eventually work for Boeing and develop better aircrafts and combat climate change. Airplanes burn a lot of fossil fuels, thus releasing a lot pollutants into the atmosphere. Therefore, by taking this course I hope to understand the earth better in order to create efficient and less wasteful airplanes one day.

Recently on the news, I have been seeing a lot of articles on Flint, Michigan’s tap water and how it has become toxic to the point of crisis. What happened was that there was a financial emergency in Flint, so the state decided to switch Flint’s water supply line from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a “cost-saving” measure, which turned out to be very corrosive. Geography fits this situation well, because geography does not just entail maps but as I learned, also includes human-environment interactions and politics. The Flint River would not have been so polluted had humans taken care of it, and the government should have implemented environmental policy in order to control the human impact on the Flint River. The topic of human environment interactions poses the question of “how does the natural environment shape, control, and constrain human systems?” The instance of the Flint water crisis sheds light on this question where the health of the Flint River has caused many citizens of Flint to suffer due to the inaccessibility to clean tap water. This situation is an eye-opener to how humans need to become more sustainable in order to have clean water systems so when times come when they need to access a certain water source, that water source is not deemed toxic like in the case of Flint, Michigan.

Our Prospectives-Brett Cruz

My name is Brett Cruz. I currently live in Washington State but I will be moving to Northern Virginia in a week because my wife is Active Duty in the Army. I originally grew up in San Antonio, TX where most of my family still lives. I’m currently in the Energy and Sustainability Policy degree field. This course is a prerequisite requirement for me but I’m additionally interested in human interactions with the environment and how we can positively influence it to preserve it for future generations to enjoy. I just recently just drove from Northern Virginia to Washington State and next week I will be driving back from Washington State to Northern Virginia. It’s very exciting to experience driving from coast to coast twice!

The concept of sustainability is obviously very important to me. This is why I choose it as my major. Over time it is becoming more and more politically significant and ecologically critical. Just recently in 2015, world leaders have met in Paris and came to some consensus on improving global emissions in an attempt to slow global warming. Now, the consensus wasn’t by any means enough to effect real change, but at least it was a start. Module 1 discussed human-environmental interactions and how human decision-making and processing shapes and changes the natural environment (Lesson1). I am excited to delve deeper in this topic as with the melting of the glaciers and changing of weather pattern it is becoming more and more imperative for us to produce effective change and once again have hope for future generations.

Getting to Know You- Mara Bunting

Hello everyone. My name is Mara Bunting and I am a sophomore at University Park, State College. I’m majoring in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. As an Education major I hope to use my degree to become a Kindergarten or First grade teacher or a Guidance Counselor. I live on campus at University Park but I grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey, about a half hour outside of New York City. This class is a requirement for my major but; by taking this class I hope to gain more knowledge about the subject of geography. A fun fact about myself is that I love traveling and have been to places such as Italy, Greece, Turkey and a few of the Caribbean Islands.

Throughout my time in school, science related subjects have not been my favorite. But, when reading the first module, the topic that interested me the most was about human and environment interactions. One topic I am eager to learn more about is global warming and climate change. The concept of sustainability is very important because, we need to come up with positive actions that can better influence our environment. I am interested in what the world as a whole can do to help and improve the environment and hopefully understand what causes the changes. I am excited to learn more about the subject of geography and hopefully get to know you all in the weeks to come. Good luck to you all.

Best, Mara Bunting

Getting to Know Sebastian Hollabaugh

Hello everybody! My name is Sebastian Hollabaugh. I currently live off campus at University Park, PA, but I grew up in Sunbury, PA. I’m currently in my last semester as an Architectural Engineer. I will be working in the Philadelphia area starting in June once I finish up. One of my biggest hobbies is competing in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. It is quite different from more its recent iterations, and I enjoy competing at local and national tournaments in it.

As an architectural engineer I think that buildings are very interesting, and geography has arguably the biggest impact on building design. The physical landscape, location, and local environment provide the basis when designing a building. I think an issue that geography is well suited for is mapping climate zones to address specific building mechanical systems. Since climate change is occurring relatively rapidly, maintaining an updated climate map is essential for system selection in relation to buildings. For example, the choice heat or enthalpy recovery is greatly dependent on location, and having a reliable climate map is necessary for making the proper selection.

Introduction: Wesley Phipps

Hey everyone, my name is Wesley Phipps and I live on West Foster Avenue, and I grew up in Grove City Pennsylvania a small town about 20 minutes from the Ohio border and right in the middle of Pittsburgh and Erie.  I am currently set to graduate this spring with a degree in criminology and a minor in Business.  I’m taking this class because one I just needed some credits to graduate, and two I took an EGEE class online a few semesters ago that dealt with humans consumption of energy and found it useful in my everyday life and so I thought I may like this class too.  I’m currently a member of the varsity wrestling team here at Penn State, and i will be attending grad school next year at Slippery Rock University and playing football.

The issue I am concerned with is the massive amount of deforestation in the world.  Just the other week I believe it was on twitter that I saw someone posting a time lapse photo of earth from the international space station and the amount of earth that turned from green to brown  was just staggering.  I think deforestation is a topic that sometimes gets overlooked by the general population because one we don’t travel to where this is happening so we don’t see the destruction first hand, and two tress are not a fossil fuel so we don’t place as much importance on conserving them as other resources.  So I think in general we as humans struggle to really grasp certain scales like really small scales or really big scales lie the global issue of deforestation.