Understanding the components and regional variations of cultural patterns and processes is critical to human
In examining culture we learn how geographers assess the spatial and place dimensions of cultural groups
as defined by language, religion, race, ethnicity, and gender, in the present as well as the past.
A central concern
is to comprehend how culture patterns are represented at a variety of geographic scales from local to global. Diffusion
is a key concept in understanding how cultural trails (for example, agricultural practices and language) move through time
and space to new locations. The concept of region is central to the spatial distribution of cultural attributes,
We also explore
cultural differences at various scales according to language, religion, ethnicity, and gender. The geographies of language
and religion are studied to illustrate processes of cultural diffusion and cultural differences. For example, we learn to
distinguish between languages and dialects; ethnic and universalizing religions; and popular and folk cultures, and to understand
why each has a different geographic pattern.
emphasis of the course is the way culture shapes human—environment relationships. For example, religion can influence
environmental perception and modification. The differential impact on environment of traditional folk cultures versus popular
cultures is studied, as is the significance of environment in relation to social customs and cultural landscapes.
We also come to understand how culture is expressed
in landscapes, and how landscapes in turn represent cultural identity. Built environments enable the geographer to interpret
cultural values, tastes, and sets of beliefs. For example, both folk and contemporary architecture are rich and readily available
means of comprehending cultures and changes in landscapes