Getting Started

Open Geography Education “is dedicated to providing free, open curriculum and resources to anybody who is interested in our geographic world.” The textbooks available at the site have been published on the Pressbooks platform and have gone through an editing and peer review process.

Open Textbooks

  • Essentials of Geographic Information Systems
    This book “integrates key concepts behind the technology with practical concerns and real-world applications. Recognizing that many potential GIS users are nonspecialists or may only need a few maps, this book is designed to be accessible, pragmatic, and concise.”
  • Geographic Information Systems and Cartography
    “Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), cartography, remote sensing, and spatial analysis. Readers will learn how to utilize geospatial technology to address social and environmental issues. This course is designed to be used as a stand-alone course to complement other disciplines or as an entry-level course in a geospatial program.”
  • GIS Commons: An Introductory Textbook on Geographic Information Systems
    “This e-text focuses primarily on Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—a geospatial technology that enables you to create spatial databases, analyze spatial patterns, and produce maps that communicate more effectively.  While this GIS textbook is principally an introduction to GIS, most of the chapter’s concepts are applicable to other geotechnologies including remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), Internet mapping, and virtual globes.”
  • Human Geography
    “If you are interested in how humans interact with the environment and how human systems are geographically distributed over space, then you’ve found your place.”
  • Introduction to Human Geography – 2nd Edition
    “Geography is a diverse discipline that has some sort of connection to most every other academic discipline. This connection is the spatial perspective, which essentially means if a phenomenon can be mapped, it has some kind of relationship to geography. Studying the entire world is a fascinating subject, and geographical knowledge is fundamental to a competent understanding of our world.”
  • Nature of Geographic Information: An Open Geospatial Textbook
    “The purpose of this text is to promote understanding of the Geographic Information Science and Technology enterprise (GIS&T, also known as “geospatial”).
  • Physical Geography
    “This open textbook covers a variety of introductory geography topics, including Earth’s grid system, rivers, oceans, deserts, basic geology, and cartography.”
  • World Regional Geography
    “Rather than present students with a broad, novice-level introduction to geography, emphasizing places and vocabulary terms, this text approaches geography as experts understand the discipline, focusing on connections and an in-depth understanding of core themes. This thematic approach, informed by pedagogical research, provides students with an introduction to thinking geographically.”
  • World Regional Geography: People, Places and Globalization
    This book “is designed for students to experience and study as much of the world as possible within a limited amount of time. It gives students the fundamental concepts and the latest data regarding world places in a concise, easy-to-read format.”

Open Books (Misc. Topics)

  • Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North
    “Climate change and globalisation are opening up the Arctic for exploitation by the world – or so we are told. But what about the views, interests and needs of the peoples who live in the region? This volume explores the opportunities and limitations in engaging with the Arctic under change, and the Arctic peoples experiencing the changes, socially and physically.”
  • Community Resilience to Climate Change: Theory, Research and Practice
    This book is “meant to accompany a graduate or higher-level undergraduate university course in climate change resilience, adaptation, and/or planning. While the material is geared toward students in urban and regional planning, it may also be of interest to students of urban studies, public health, geography, political science, sociology, risk management, and others.”
  • Deltas in the Anthropocene
    “In the world’s deltas the Anthropocene is manifest in major land use change, the damming of rivers, the engineering of coasts and the growth of some of the world’s largest megacities; deltas are home to one in twelve of all people in the world. The book explores bio-physical and social dynamics and makes clear adaptation choices and trade-offs that underpin policy and governance processes, including visionary delta management plans.”
  • Drylands Facing Change: Interventions, Investments, and Identities
    “The chapters in this volume discuss the politics of change triggered by forces as diverse as the global land and resource rush, the expansion of new Information and Communication Technologies, urbanization, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the spread of violent extremism. While recognizing that changes are co-produced by differently positioned actors from within and outside the drylands, this volume presents the dryland’s point of view.”
  • Geographies of Digital Exclusion: Data and Inequality
    “Today’s urban environments are layered with data and algorithms that fundamentally shape how we perceive and move through space. But are our digitally dense environments continuing to amplify inequalities rather than alleviate them? This book looks at the key contours of information inequality, and who, what and where gets left out.”
  • Global Forest Monitoring from Earth Observation
    “Covering recent developments in satellite observation data undertaken for monitoring forest areas from global to national levels, this book highlights operational tools and systems for monitoring forest ecosystems.”
  • Grammars of the Urban Ground
    “The contributors to Grammars of the Urban Ground develop a new conceptual framework and vocabulary for capturing the complex, ever-shifting, and interactive processes that shape contemporary cities.”
  • Infrastructuring Urban Futures: The Politics of Remaking Cities
    “The book asks the reader to think through the different ways in which infrastructure comes to be present in cities and its co-constitutive relationships with urban inhabitants and wider processes of urbanization. Considering the climate emergency, economic transformation, public health crises and racialized inequality, the book argues that paying attention to infrastructures’ past, present and future allows us to understand and respond to the current urban condition.”
  • Mapping Society: The Spatial Dimensions of Social Cartography
    “In this richly illustrated book, Laura Vaughan examines maps of ethnic or religious difference, poverty, and health inequalities, demonstrating how they not only serve as historical records of social enquiry, but also constitute inscriptions of social patterns that have been etched deeply on the surface of cities.”
  • Mapping, Society, and Technology
    “This book is about how to read, use, and create maps. Our exploration of maps will be informed by a contextual understanding of how maps reflect the relationship between society and technology, and how mapping is an essential form of scientific and artistic inquiry. We will also explore how mapping is used to address a variety of societal issues, such as land use planning and political gerrymandering.”
  • Mapping the Unmappable? Cartographic Explorations with Indigenous Peoples in Africa
    “How can we map differing perceptions of the living environment? Mapping the Unmappable? explores the potential of cartography to communicate the relations of Africa’s indigenous peoples with other human and non-human actors within their environments. These relations transcend Western dichotomies such as culture-nature, human-animal, natural-supernatural. The volume brings two strands of research – cartography and »relational« anthropology – into a closer dialogue.”
  • Migration, Agriculture and Rural Development
    “This open access short reader looks into the dynamics which have reshaped rural development and human landscapes in European agriculture and the role of immigrant people. Within this framework it analyses contemporary rural migrations and the emergence of immigrants in relation to the incorporation of agrarian systems into global markets, the European agricultural governance (CAP), and the struggle of local territories as differentiated practices in constant stress between innovation and resilience.”
  • Oil Spaces: Exploring the Global Petroleumscape
    Oil Spaces traces petroleum’s impact through a range of territories from across the world, showing how industrially drilled petroleum and its refined products have played a major role in transforming the built environment in ways that are often not visible or recognized.”
  • Post-Growth Geographies: Spatial Relations of Diverse and Alternative Economies
    Post-Growth Geographies examines the spatial relations of diverse and alternative economies between growth-oriented institutions and multiple socio-ecological crises. The book brings together conceptual and empirical contributions from geography and its neighbouring disciplines and offers different perspectives on the possibilities, demands and critiques of post-growth transformation.”
  • Shifts in Mapping: Maps as a Tool of Knowledge
    “Questions of privacy, authorship, and economic interests are highly relevant to cartography’s practices. So how to deal with such powers and what is the critical role of cartography in it? How might a bottom-up perspective (and actions) in map-making change the conception of a geopolitical space?”
  • This Is Not an Atlas: A Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies
    This Is Not an Atlas gathers more than 40 counter-cartographies from all over the world. This collection shows how maps are created and transformed as a part of political struggle, for critical research or in art and education.”
  • Time for Mapping: Cartographic Temporalities
    “Maps often seek to ‘freeze’ and ‘fix’ the world, looking to represent, document or capture dynamic phenomena. This collection examines how these processes are impacted by digital cartographic technologies that, arguably, have disrupted our understanding of time as much as they have provided coherence.”
  • Urban Literacy: Learning to Read the City Around You
    “The purpose of this book is to provide you with the background you need so you can read the stories in the city around you. This book is designed to introduce you to some basic concepts and theories about how cities function and develop. The book is organized into thematic chapters that highlight different aspects of urban life, from the environment to culture to housing.”

Additional Open and Zero-Cost Resources

  • Environment and Society in a Changing World
    This course is “Penn State’s introductory course to nature-society geography. In addition to examining the linkages between human development and natural hazards, this course will also explore human society’s connection to food systems, climate change, urbanization and biodiversity. The course will also cover topics of ethics and decision making in order to help students evaluate the tradeoffs of these interconnections.”
  • Human Use of the Environment
    This course from Penn State is “focused around understanding the changing relationships between people and their environments, the causes and consequences of environmental degradation, strategies for building a more sustainable world, and the methods and approaches that scholars have used to understand human-environment interactions.”
  • If It Were My Home
    “ is your gateway to understanding life outside your home. Use our country comparison tool to compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. Start by selecting a region to compare on the map to the right, and begin your exploration.”
  • Individual Choices, Collective Impacts
    “This is a group of assignments developed for GEO 100: Introduction to Geography at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD. There are three activities that work together to help students assess the connections between ecological destruction and modern forms of slavery in the context of their own everyday lives. Although not addressed in the materials, it should be noted that individual choices only go so far, and that the discourse of ‘consumer choice’ can oftentimes serve as a distraction from the broader structural reforms necessary to fully and effectively address climate change.”
  • Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America
    “Mapping Inequality opens the HOLC files at the National Archives to scholars, students, and residents and policy leaders in local communities. This site makes the well-known security maps of HOLC available in digital form, as well as the data and textual assessments of the area descriptions that were created to go with the maps.”
  • Mapping in the Humanities: GIS Lessons for Poets, Historians, and Scientists
    “User-friendly Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is the common thread of this collection of presentations, and activities with full lesson plans. The first section of the site contains an overview of cartography, the art of creating maps, and then looks at historical mapping platforms like Hypercities and Donald Rumsey Historical Mapping Project. In the next section Google Earth Desktop Pro is introduced, with lessons and activities on the basics of GE such as pins, paths, and kml files, as well as a more complex activity on “georeferencing” an historic map over Google Earth imagery. The final section deals with ARCGIS Online and StoryMaps with tutorials, basic exercises on pins, paths, and CSV import, and a lesson plan for creating a research project presentation on an historic building in StoryMaps.”
  • National Geologic Map Database
    “Developing a distributed archive of standardized geoscience information for the nation.”
  • Palestine Open Maps
    “Palestine Open Maps (POM) is a platform that allows users to explore, search and download historical maps and spatial data on Palestine.”