Chapter 1: Our Social World
Modern technology has helped to bring the world’s diverse peoples closer together. Because the
world is getting smaller, the chances for interaction among people from different cultures are
increasing. American communities include various groups of peoples called ethnic groups, who
often are also minorities.
Organizing information to help people understand the world around them is the role of social
scientists. They study the interaction of people and society using disciplines such as history,
economics, and geography. They examine culture, or the way of life of a group of people who
share similar beliefs and customs; how culture spreads from one area to another through cultural
borrowing and cultural diffusion; and a people’s government, religion, and economic system.
Several patterns have emerged in today’s world. Many people have moved from farms and
villages to live in cities—a pattern called urbanization—often to seek better jobs. The world’s
rapid population growth has resulted in shortages of food, land, housing, and freshwater for some
people. Cooperation has become increasingly important as the countries of the world become
more and more interdependent. Technology is a valuable tool in promoting understanding and
cooperation, but it must be shared among all countries to be truly effective.
Chapter 2: Earth Patterns
Geography is the study of the earth and its people. Maps and globes are some of the tools used to
study the physical and human characteristics of our planet. LANDSAT photos and geographic
information systems (GIS) help geographers provide information used by government and
business leaders as they plan and make decisions.
Scientists have developed a theory about the earth’s structure called plate tectonics. This theory
states that the earth’s crust is made of plates, or huge slabs of rock, that move. Movement of the
plates can result in volcanoes and earthquakes. The earth’s people have adapted in order to live
on various landforms. Mountains, plateaus, valleys, and other landforms are found on land and
under the oceans. About 70 percent of the earth’s surface is water, but only a small percentage is
freshwater, which is drinkable.
Climate is the usual pattern of weather in an area over a long period of time. A combination of
factors creates climate. Wind and ocean currents, the sun, latitude, and elevation all contribute to
climate. People’s actions can also affect climate. The burning of fossil fuels and the destruction
of the rain forest are human actions that are causing concern.
The world’s growing population threatens the delicate balance of life on the earth. Issues such as
pollution, land use, and scarcity of freshwater create the need for policies to protect the
environment for the future.
Chapter 3: North Africa and Southwest Asia—Early Cultures