Landscapes: Societies, Cultures, and Political Economies, Certificate

Program Code: HMNGEO_UCT

Program Description

In a rapidly changing world, an understanding of how human landscapes function globally and locally is highly marketable. This 12-credit certificate prepares students to read future socio-economic trends, which will be of interest to many employers. This certificate prepares students for careers in community and economic development, urban design, politics, and travel and tourism through the study of human geography. Global understandings of population growth and international migration; the consequences of economic development; and the impacts of technological innovation are some of the topics covered in the courses that comprise this certificate. Additionally, students gain proficiency in identifying how political power and control of culture can impact human rights, and race and gender equality. Learning Objectives: Describe, analyze, and locate human relations and movements across and through space and place; recognize and discuss the geographical dimensions of varying social, cultural, political, historical, and economic conditions; and identify and analyze human use and/or human change of their environments locally, regionally and globally.

What is Landscapes: Societies, Cultures, and Political Economies?

Human geographers examine human societies and how their cultures, economies and politics develop within the context of their environment. A geographic lens allows human geographers to critically examine the intersections of these social processes and how they shape the lived and built environment. Human geographers examine topics like how race shapes the way we interact in public spaces, how gender conditions where and how people find jobs, what the links are between global finance and community activism, how immigration is shaped by family connections, and why gerrymandering political districts can change the way we think about our neighbors. Human geographers look at how these social processes construct the contexts we live in and how these contexts vary in our increasingly globalized world.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You want to understand why location matters to people everywhere, every day.
  • You are interested in agricultural land use, industrial development, and urban design.
  • You are curious about the reasons for population growth and international migration.
  • You want to learn about the costs of economic development.
  • You are interested in how struggles over political power and control of territory deepen inequalities between peoples and places.

Program Requirements

To earn an undergraduate certificate in Human Geography, a minimum of 12 credits is required.

Required Courses
GEOG 220Perspectives on Human Geography Keystone/General Education Course3
Elective Courses (Choose 9 credits from the following):9
Apocalyptic Geographies: How can we prevent the end of the world? Keystone/General Education Course
Urban Geography: A Global Perspective
Place, Space and Culture Keystone/General Education Course
Geographic Perspectives on Economic Systems Keystone/General Education Course
War, Peace, and Diplomacy: Understanding Contemporary Geopolitics
Population Geography
Geography of the Global Economy
Geography of the Global Economy
Geography of Race, Class, and Poverty in America
Urban Historical Geography
Political Geography
Geographic Perspectives on Global Urbanization
Non-Course Requirements
Per University policy, all credit courses for a certificate require a grade of 'C' or higher, and at least two-thirds (2/3) of the credits used to complete a certificate must be earned at Penn State. If student is completing multiple certificates in Geography, no more than one (1) course may double-count for each.

Certificate Learning Objectives:

  • Students will describe and locate human relations and movements across and through space and place
  • Students will recognize and discuss the geographical dimensions of varying social, cultural, political, historical, and economic conditions
  • Students will analyze human relations and movements across and through space and place
  • Students will identify and analyze human use and/or human change of their environments locally, regionally and globally

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Jodi Vender
Undergraduate Advising Coordinator
305 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802

Career Paths

Students earning the Human Geography certificate learn a wide range of critical thinking, research, and analytical skills that are highly valued by employers. Students with backgrounds in human geography find jobs in all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, and in industry. This is one of several geography- related certificates that students can use to tailor their educational experience in preparation for the job market. In addition to Human Geography, the geography department offers certificates in Environment and Society Geography; Geospatial Big Data Analytics; Geographic Information Systems; Justice, Ethics and Diversity in Space; Landscape Ecology; and Physical Geography.


Students earning the certificate in Human Geography are well positioned to find employment with diverse organizations spanning business, government, and nonprofit sectors. Such organizations may include (but are not limited to): American Red Cross; Amnesty International; U.S. Census Bureau; Heifer International; National Geographic Society; National Park Service; Teach for America; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. State Department; World Bank; local, regional, and state  planning agencies; environmental and engineering consulting firms; policy research institutes; private corporations; and humanitarian organizations.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

A certificate in Human Geography is useful for students who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in the social sciences and humanities. Alumni enter graduate and professional studies in a variety of programs, including (but not limited to) geography, planning, international development, urban studies, sustainability, public policy, emergency management, education, and law. They sometimes begin graduate or professional programs directly after finishing undergraduate studies, but often get several years' work experience before returning to school, either full or part-time.


Professional Resources


University Park

302 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802