Human Geography


Teacher:  Stephanie Berry

Homework:  Required; both reading and writing.  Please sign up only if willing to do the homework as it is pivotal to our conversations and learning in class!


This class is a study of how civilizations from ancient through modern times are challenged, and how they responded to these varying challenges.  From ecocide to genocide, we will study civilizations that did not survive alongside those that did survive and even thrive, and determine the key aspects of choices that were made and the consequences of those choices.   To ensure that our study of history is meaningful, we will then move to more modern civilizations and look at the threats that are currently being posed, and see how each civilization is responding.   What assumptions can we make about the outcome of modern civilizations based on the actions of the past?


This class will required reading outside of class (about 20 pages from our book per week) and will also culminate in the writing of a research paper.  Students will choose a topic related to this class and apply the lessons learned in the first half of the class to a modern civilization and make their own prediction about the future.   Students will be given weekly writing assignments that will help in the creation of this final project, and will also present their ideas to the class at the end of the semester. Our primary text this semester will be Collapse; How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed along with Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, although this will be supplemented with other works as necessary.


Civilizations we will study include Easter Island, the Anasazi, the Mayans, Cambodia, the Norse and Intuit and then we will look at modern civilizations facing somewhat similar challenges like Australia and China.   We will be looking at the both cultural issues and responses to friendly and unfriendly neighbors and environmental issues like Climate Change, Deforestation and dwindling food sources.  Students will also prepare a group end of semester exhibition.


Homework:  Required; both reading and writing.   Writing demands will be adjusted to the goals of the individual student.  Papers need to be submitted electronically prior to the class.  Honors level work will be available to each student by performing more extensive research and writing a longer research paper.