GEOG 101: People and Their Environment

Fall, 2016

Class hours: Tuesday and Friday 11:10 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.
Class location: HW415
Professor: Hongmian Gong
Office and phone: HN1050, 212-772-4658
Office hours: Friday 12:30 – 3 p.m., or by appointment.

Web page:

Department office and phone: HN1006, 212-772-5265

Course Description

A broad overview of subjects and ideas in geography, possibly the most internally diverse of the social sciences.  Covers the geographical aspects of topics including weather and climate, landforms, population, culture, spatial interaction, politics, economics, cities, and much more.  While students will be expected to understand the basics of each of the topics covered, the overarching emphasis will be on understanding the relationships among them. As such, the course builds from one topic to the next, ultimately stressing the sheer geographical complexity and wonder of modern life interacting with it.

This course fulfills the CUNY Common Core requirement on Individual and Society (Social Science) and Stage 2 (Broad Exposure) Group B (Social Science) of the General Education Requirement.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course you should be able to:

1. define and describe the subfields and core concepts of geography.

2. know how to read maps and become familiar with geospatial technologies such as remote sensing and GIS.

3. have basic knowledge of plate tectonics, landforms, weather, and climates.

4. discuss the role of distance as an effect on human interaction.

5. understand the global patterns of population, cultural, and urban, and economic processes.

Required Textbook

A. Getis, M. Bjelland, and V. Getis, Introduction to Geography. McGraw Hill, 14th edition, 2014. ISBN 978-0-07-352288-3 (Paperback) or ISBN 978-0-07-743630-8 (E-Book).

Course Evaluation

Grade will be based on the following Criteria:

Exam 1, Tuesday, September 27 (date is subject to change)


Exam 2, Friday, November 4 (date is subject to change)


Exam 3, Friday, December 9


Paper (due by Nov. 29) and attendance


1. Students are strongly advised not to miss any exam.  If you have to miss an exam, you must contact Prof. Gong within 48 of the missed exam and present acceptable documentary evidence for your absence.  No student is allowed more than one make-up exam.

2. Since all exams will be computer graded, students must bring a #2 pencil and an eraser to each exam.  Students are responsible for correctly filling in an answer sheet.  No dictionary or electronic device of any kind is permitted during an exam.

3. Each student is required to submit in Blackboard a 2-page paper (doubled spaced, 12 font size) about (1) a Transportation Technology Symposium on November 15, or (2) the videos of a previous symposium.  You are strongly encouraged to attend the Transportation Technology Symposium on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 in New York Institute of Technology (1855 Broadway, New York, NY 10023, near Columbus Circle) and write about what you learn from two of the presentations.  If you cannot attend the symposium, you are required to come to class to watch the videos of a previous symposium and write about what you learn from two of the presentations.

4. Class attendance is mandatory.  Missing more than three classes in a semester, regardless the reasons, will adversely affect your grade.  Students are responsible for obtaining any information presented in class during an absence.

5. The only students who will be eligible for CR/NC at the end of the semester are those who have completed the paper and all three exams.

6. No incomplete (IN) is given as a grade unless it is under the most extraordinary, and documented, circumstances.  To request IN as a grade, you must contact the instructor by 11 am on December 9 and complete a Contract to Resolve Incomplete Grades.



Reading Assignments

What is geography?

Chapter 1

Geographic tools

Chapter 2


Chapter 3

------------ Exam 1 ------------


Weather and Climate

Chapter 4

Population geography

Chapter 5

Cultural geography

Chapter 6

------------ Exam 2 ------------


Human Interaction

Chapter 7

An Urban World

Chapter 11

Manufacturing and Services

Chapter 10

Agriculture and Primary Activities

Chapter 9

------------ Exam 3 ------------


Notes on Schedule

August 26 (Friday): First class for this course.

October 4 (Tuesday): No classes scheduled at Hunter College.

October 11 (Tuesday): No classes scheduled at Hunter College.

November 10 (Thursday): Last day to drop the class with the grade of "W".

November 15 (Tuesday): Transportation Technology Symposium, or videos in class for those who cannot attend the symposium.

November 25 (Friday): College closed for Thanksgiving.

November 29 (Tuesday): Paper is due in Blackboard (or by email).  Late paper is subject to 5% penalty per day.

December 9 (Friday): Last class for this course.

December 20 (Tuesday): Make-up exam (9:45 to 11 a.m.) for students with written approval from Prof. Gong.

How to Use Blackboard to Access Your Grades and Course Information

1. Follow instructions on to access Blackboard;

2. To view your grades, click My Grades, and then click GEOG 101: People and Their Environment;

3. To access course announcements, click GEOG 101: People and Their Environment, and then click Announcements on the left.

4. To access course documents, click GEOG 101: People and Their Environment, and then click Course Information on the left.

5. When you are done, click “Logout” at the top to exit your account, and then close the Internet browser.  

Email Policy

Students should check the Announcements section in Blackboard and the course syllabus before emailing the instructor.  Content of the emails is limited to what has not been covered and cannot be covered in class or during office hours.  Emails are generally replied to within one business day and no later than two business days.  Remember to include the course title in the subject line and sign your full name as it appears in CUNYFirst.

Hunter College Policy on Academic Integrity

Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty.  The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.


ADA Policy

In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical, and/or Learning) consult the Office of AccessABILITY, located in Room E1214B, to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance, please call: (212) 772- 4857 or (212) 650-3230.

Syllabus Change Policy

Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) criteria, this syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice.  Any changes made to the syllabus will be announced in class and/or posted in Blackboard under Announcements.