Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
GEO 210
Course Title:
The Natural Environment
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Focuses on natural processes that create physical diversity on the earth. Includes weather and climate, vegetation, soils, landforms, ecosystems, their distribution and significance. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The course is valuable for students seeking to understand the varied and complex physical environments of the Earth.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion of Geography 210 students will be able to:

  • Use climate graphs, diagrams and maps to understand the interrelationships between atmospheric temperature, pressure, wind, precipitation, air masses, fronts and disturbances to explain how these climates change.
  • Identify diverse landforms on the surface of the earth by examining the processes of landform evolution
  • Create communities that are more environmentally aware based on an understanding of the science behind how humans may be contributing to atmospheric and environmental change.

Course Activities and Design

Course activities and design will include some or all of the following: quizzes, essays, small and large group discussions, in class activities, and case studies. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Students will be expected to demonstrate mastery of themes, concepts, issues, competencies and skills by any combination of the following:

  1. In-class discussions and written assignments
  2. Various exam formats (multiple choice, short answer, essay)

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, concepts, Issues:


  • Introduction to Weather and Climate
  • Heat Balance of the Earth
  • Temperature
  • Pressure and Wind
  • Evaporation and Condensation
  • Air Masses, Fronts and Storms
  • Precipitation
  • World Distribution of Climates 
  • Human's role as a modifier of climate processes
  • Climate Change


  • Introduction to Landforms
  • The Internal Processes
  • Weathering and Mass Wasting
  • The Fluvial Process
  • Topographic Development in Arid Lands
  • Costal Processes and Terrain
  • Glacial Modification of Terrain
  • Terrestrial Flora and Fauna
  • Soils