Slideshow: Geography in our backyard

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 11:52am

While geographers often study far-off places, important lessons about how humans interact with the planet can also be learned in our own backyards.


The Geography 430: Human Uses of the Environment class during Maymester 2012 chose Centre County, home of Penn State, as its classroom. “Our goals were to understand the breadth of human-environmental systems in Centre County, the causes of environmental changes through the region’s history, and the possibilities for a more sustainable future,” explained instructor Travis Tennessen.


View the slide show below or download the file.

Historic sites, like the Eagle Ironworks at Curtin Village and Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte, helped reveal how different life was in Centre County in the past. Led by expert guides, students considered how and why places like the Bellefonte Fish Hatchery, Penn State’s West Campus Steam Plant, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center had changed over time. The cutting edges of sustainability research and practice were revealed at the Rock Springs Agricultural Research Farm, Greenmoore Gardens, the Morningstar Solar Home, and the Penn State Arboretum.


In addition to this field work, each student chose a place in Centre County to research and interpret in a final paper and presentation. Topics included Penn’s Cave, Millbrook Marsh, Centre Furnace, Bald Eagle’s Nest in Milesburg, Boalsburg, and Penn State’s “Living Filter” water-management system.


“From this foundation of knowledge about our home region, we’re all now better prepared to interpret, understand, and interact with any far-flung places and regions we encounter in the future,” Tennessen noted.