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 SSC 141 - Introduction to Human Geography


The study of human geography is the study of the dynamic and complex relationships between people and the world they inhabit.  In today’s rapidly changing world it has become ever more important to appreciate the interconnectedness between people and places.  Geography matters because it is in specific places that people learn who and what they are and how they should think and behave.  Places also have a strong influence on people’s physical well-being, their opportunities, and their lifestyle choices.  Places contribute to peoples’ collective memory, and they become powerful emotional and cultural symbols.  Places are the sites of innovation and change, of resistance and conflict.

To investigate specific places, however, we must be able to frame our studies of them within the compass of the entire globe, as the world’s regions and places are interrelated and interdependent in many ways.  Furthermore, the forces that contribute to the making of ‘place’ – especially economic, cultural, and political forces that influence the distribution of human activities – are operating increasingly on a global scale.  Studying human geography thus involves an interrogation of specific, local places as well as the socio-spatial relations between them on a local, national and global scale.

This course will thus examine the dynamic and complex relationships between people and the wider world they inhabit.   One of the main overall aims of this course is to show students some of the ways in which the world is not only an increasingly interconnected set of places but one in which people and places are also very differentially positioned.  We will do so by investigating a series of topics including maps and historical geography, travel and tourism, migration and diasporas, nature and environment, food and culture, development and famine, politics and social movements.  Finally, this course also invites students to become conscious of their own place in the world: how do we imagine the world around us, how do we understand our own position within it, and how do we represent that world to others?  In other words, we will come to realise the extent to which descriptions about the world are never objective, but instead reveal our own thinking and experiences of it.


Dr. Sam Wong​


Human Geography