Sustainable Cities: Module 7

I live in a small borough in Jessup, PA. The total population is about 4,600. The closest city is Scranton in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania located right off of Interstate 81. The city is broken into six sections. Some of the neighborhoods are pedestrian-oriented, others are more automobile suburb. The urban downtown area is mostly commercial. The population in the metropolitan area of Scranton is estimated at 562,037 in 2013. I have many connections to Scranton. I attend college and live within the metropolitan area. Another personal connection is both of my parents attended college in Scranton. The city is currently in a revitalization phase, trying to bounce back from almost going bankrupt in 2012. The city is also the setting for the NBC show The Office where its fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin is located. Scranton also hosts a marathon once a year that attracts many visitors.

The first city I selected is Copenhagen, Denmark. The main reason I chose this city is because of its successful traffic calming program. The city of Copenhagen and Scranton are similar because they both experience cold and snowy winters. Scranton has one main biking/walking trail that runs through part of the city, but it is broken in sections where the trail intersects with roads. Also, Scranton has a Tour de Scranton event that attracts many cyclists. Scranton does get traffic congested at certain times. Dedicated cycling routes would help to improve the city, while reducing the overall pollution. I believe it will attract more people and increase the quality of life. Since the demand for cycling is there, Scranton should look at ways Copenhagen was able to incorporate cycling into their city.

The next city I select is Bogota, Colombia. Bogota has weekly car-free events known as Ciclovias. The Bogota Ciclovias takes place every Sunday and on their holiday. The Ciclovias works by banning or restricting cars on almost 75 miles of streets throughout the city. This allows for people to use the streets safely and promote exercise. Scranton can adopt this type of event every easily. Scranton already has people have that like to cycle and walk and has some ways to include this. Also, it would be the most cost friendly of ways to include cycling and walking. This will help Scranton be more family friendly and attract more events and businesses. Scranton’s adoption of an event like Ciclovias will help promote a more sustainable development.

Ethics – Syed Amirul

  1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?

Ethic itself is a subjective term, just like the term ‘good’. Being good can be defined in so many ways, it does not hold a single definition and can vary according to different viewpoints such as religiously, culturally, or personally. We would all acknowledge that human should be a good person AND perform good acts-but that’s not how everyone is. I personally think that virtue ethics and action ethics are two elements that should go hand-to-hand; they complement each other. However, upon reflecting towards myself, I’m a little inclined to say that it would be more important to perform good acts rather than to be merely ‘good’ in the eyes of other people. With the definition of virtue (what we should be) versus action (what we should do), I strongly believe that taking ‘good’ actions are more impactful than being a good person alone. Taking myself as an example, I am not necessarily the most organized and neat person you might know, but I do not mess up my house because I know there are other people living with me and they would not feel comfortable with what I am comfortable with. Consequently, although you’re not ‘good’ person to begin with, performing good acts will make you appear good at least at the eyes of people who matter. A killer (by instinct) is not a criminal until he kills.


  1. Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?

I was raised as a Muslim, and one ethical philosophy that I learned is Islam was “Intentions does not justify means”. This saying, although slightly different from the question, has the same core value. Even though most of what people want are ends that are ethically accepted, the mean at which it should be achieved should be ethical as well. My way of thinking are mostly molded by the system that I was raised in, and this system-Islam as a way of life-has provided guidelines to its followers to achieve a goal ethically; that is least harmful or best suited to a given situation. Although, I have to admit that life isn’t as simple as we might say it is. There are more complex situations in real life, one that might lead to an ethical dilemma. To this, I take the stand that most of the time, means ethics are more essential. I tend to accept that not all goals should be reached if it means the means to achieve it is not ethically sound.


  1. Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?

I believe that human lives are all equal. I do not envy the people who have more than me, but I’m petrified for the ones who have far less. I don’t believe that rich people should have less, but I wish for the impoverished, refugees, and homeless people to live their lives with better quality. My altruism isn’t based on monetary value, but rather on having a utility value that is at least the same for everyone. Humans are all created equally from the womb- all are but a white cloth, stylized within the first few years of living. To say that one’s life is more worthy than other, I question where this worth comes from? A person isn’t born to be a certain color by choice, nor does a disabled person. Should a life’s worth be put upon how people are situationally born into? I think not.

Syed Amirul

Biogas Concept Map- India


The provided system diagram that I’ve made is relatively simple to what other students might have and also from Marten’s diagram. What I’d like to show in the diagram were mainly how the biogas technology impacts both the ecosystem and the social system of the part in India which applies the biogas system. This invention produced two major products; methane gas and slurry. Both of these outputs brought various effect to fore-mostly the ecosystem, then affecting the social system as well. The production of methane gas leads to less environmental pollution and also reducing deforestation due to the people having an alternative energy choice for cooking. This in return will benefit the people health-wise and allow the children to go to school instead of gathering fuel. The slurry, on the other hand will help local farmers to fertilize their soil and grow healthier crops. At the same time, the slurry provides a certain group of the population (mainly women) with job opportunity by processing them into fertilizers to sell to farmers. Both the farmers and the women will gain economic profit from this.

For the most part, this diagram is much simpler and straightforward than that of Marten’s. It is similar in a way that both charts are divided into two major divisions- social system and ecosystem. Also, this diagram shows the effect that all outcome from the ecosystem side eventually leads to a healthier ecosystem, which isn’t shown in Marten’s diagram. Comparing the two diagrams, I think we could all learn more from the more complex relationships appearing on Marten’s illustration because he listed along the products and processes that goes along in the exchange of points such as cooking fuel, cut wood or put in biogas generators.

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.

Getting to Know You, Module 1

Hello class, my name is Katy Bordt. I am currently living in State College while I am attending PSU. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh. I am pursuing a career in Nuclear Engineering. I am interested in this course because it is extremely different than my engineering classes. Furthermore, I want to know more about the environment and what has to be done to sustain our current environment. This is my first Geography course. I have taken many other general electives in my 5 years at PSU, such as Anthropology and Kinesiology courses. Also,  I love studying different reglions and cultures. I am an animal lover, mostly a dog lover.  I have a rescue dog name Aurora currently, she used to be an Alaskan sled dog. Currently, she is in her glory with the cold weather and snow on the way.

From Module 1, I believe being able to visualize what is happening in a specific place is very important. I believe maps are a very useful tool.  However, after seeing the different tube maps in the module show how differently maps can be distorted.  It shows that maps should not be taken at face value. Also, I believe the most important concept from the first module is human-environment interactions. I believe humans are the making the most impact on today’s environment. I believe that something needs to be changed in the way we as humans abuse the environment. If any classmates have opinions or ideas on what should be changed to help make our environment more sustainable I would love to hear them.

Module 1: Getting to know you

My name is Jason Brown, but I like to go by J.R. I am a freshman here at Penn State University. I am originally from Canton, Ohio, but moved to McMurray, PA when I was three years old. I’ve lived there my whole life basically. McMurray is about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh, PA. I am currently pursuing a degree in marketing and someday hope to obtain a job with an NHL teams’ marketing department. This course interests me because I have never gotten to take an extensive geography class before. I want to learn more on the subject and see its impact on our lives. Also, I thought it would be great to take this as an intro to my first online class at PSU because of its different components. Other facts about me are that I love hockey and grew up playing the sport and someday hope to be able to travel to all of the 50 US states.


In Module 1, one of the main pages that interested me was human- environment interactions. I want to study more about how human decision making have changed the Earth’s ecosystems. Also, the concepts of governance and ethics stuck out to me. I want to study how humans make these decisions that can highly impact the environment. Geography is interesting to me after reading module 1 because before this I had no clue how much is involved in it. In high school when we talked about geography, we always just learned about the different types of maps and the continents different ecosystems/ features. I cannot wait to learn about this topic and get more info than ever before.