Human Geography

It’s time to say a little about this past quarter.


I unknowingly took two “easy classes.” They were easy as far as the work load goes but not a waste of time.  I enjoyed them both everyday I was there.

The first was Human Geography, a Social Science/Cultural Diversity requirement. I love geography but this class was about cultures within geography. Our instructor, GW, was a  Geordie from England.  He’s married to a native Seattleite and became a US citizen recently.

This is GW’s Japanese tourist pose. He’d had a cataract removed the week before.

The class was very interesting, he taught using his own power points which were full of photos from his own travels.  He discussed attributes of cultures, interactions between cultures, population, spirituality/religion, language, influences of the physical world on culture, and culture & conflict. I say he because he did not teach using the Socratic method like many other teachers I’ve had at BC. Not that he wasn’t open to comments he just rarely asked for class participation. This was one of few things I didn’t care for about the class.  The few assignments we had were essays about discussion topics: Japan’s ageing population, the hijab worn by Iranian women, the loss of world languages, and global warming. Then he asked us to make a cultural map which was wide open for anything we could think of. I came up with the idea to make a map of the US made out of “Made in …” tags out of clothes. I then sewed that onto a shirt and made a price tag for the shirt as if you might find it in a store. I tried to find as many different countries as possible but had to have many duplicates. I got the idea from a comment that GW made in class that he “sees the US not as a melting pot of cultures but as a patchwork quilt carefully knit together.” I started with a patchwork quilt idea but a bus trip later brought about the tag idea. Yes I love my bus rides, an hour and 20 minutes everyday to work, read, or brainstorm.

The tag says “Cultural Threads- The Fabric of America”

Our one other assignment, given at the beginning of the quarter, was to find our own “textbook.” We had to find a book that the author infused it with a strong sense of place. We would be giving a written and oral review of it the last week of the quarter. I chose The Hobbit for two reasons. First, I figured that Tolkien would be describing Middle Earth is pretty good detail both the geography and the cultures. Also, with the movie coming out this weekend I wanted to read the book first.  GW was open to anything even fantasy or sci-fi. I loved it. Tolkien is a fun writer. I’m no expert on writing I just know that I enjoyed his storytelling. I hope to read Lord of the Rings someday.

Not that any BC students read my blog but if any happen to and are interested in this class should definitely take it. GW is quirky and humorous (he reminded me a little of Rowan Atkinson). He does have some very strong liberal/progressive views which he makes very clearly known. Some I agree with some I just had to agree to disagree. But overall he has some great things to share about the world and its cultures many of them he’s seen himself.


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