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November 15th, 2021


Problems and Prospects

Location and Physical Characteristics:

Asking the following questions will help you identify your understanding of the Physical Characteristics and Location of the place:


  • Where is it?  

  • What is it a part of?  

  • What is the physical character of the place?  

Population and Culture:

Along with the physical character of a place it is also important to understand the human relationships and impacts to a place.  Looking at the Population and Culture Characteristics will give you an insight into what people have done in the past, what they are doing today and what they could do in the future. 


It is also important to realize that people sometimes change landscapes but that nature is quite resilient!  Given time reclamation often happens all on its own, even without humans intervening.  Look for evidence of people, the density of the population, the culture of the surrounding population, look for not only artifacts but also physical signs that are left behind.

Economic and Land Use:

Looking at the Economic Character and Land Use of an area is a way to tie both the physical and cultural signs together.  The local transportation routes are excellent examples of this.  The housing, development, transportation changes and human reclamation activities have influenced the life of any piece of property in different ways at different times in its history.  The physical surroundings offer humans a resource rich environment that has been changing throughout the history of the property.  Remember that the resources present here are not just historical, but human and economic resources!


This leads us to think about what has happened in the past and how it is impacting what is happening to the surrounding area today and tomorrow.  Understanding the history of a place helps us appreciate the positive impacts made by people as well as take steps to correct or protect our natural heritage.  Sometimes the character of a place is so heavily influenced by people that we must look at what has happened in the past to make better decisions about our future.

Problems and Prospects:

That leads to the problems and prospects associated with a place.  Every place on the surface of the earth has good and bad things associated with it.  Whether it is the impacts of humans on the environment or the crime rates in a particular city, the unique character of a place surfaces as positive and negative qualities.  Understanding the relationship that exists between people and their environment as well as how to maximize the positive impacts can be the key to improving the world around us.


The Angola project is a wonderful example of how local and state agencies, volunteers, libraries and historic societies can create a project that is a changing land use model working with what nature provides!

Things to Think About When Going Into the Field:

As geographers/scientists we look at the world from a spatial or place perspective.  Everything and every place can be looked at geographically and here is a way to think about what you see around you.

When going to a place or learning about a place for the first time, it is good to think about what you already know and what you would like to learn about that place to understand it better. 

Asking the following questions will help you identify your understanding of the characteristics of a place, and its relationship to human activity.

Categories of Questions:​​​

Location and Physical Characteristics

Population and Culture

Economic and

Land Use



As geographers/scientists we look at the world from a spatial or place perspective.  Everything and every place can be looked at geographically!


Download and review the full Field Model For Studying Place. Discuss with your students how the model might help them analyze their own community.

Featured Resource:

       "National Geographic's Geo-Inquiry Process relies on using a geographic perspective, offering a unique lens to analyze space, place, and the interconnections between both the human and natural world.

Using both a geographic perspective and the Geo-Inquiry Process students begin to connect complex components, see patterns, and make connections that change their communities.


The online course Connecting the Geo-Inquiry Process to your Teaching Practice provides an in-depth look at the Geo-Inquiry Process and concrete guidance on implementing it with your students."

Educator resources that support implementing the Geo-Inquiry Process into your classroom can be downloaded below:

Learn how National Geographic explorers use the Geo-Inquiry Process in these case studies:

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