Field work is an integral part of geography. So far I’ve only had two classes that required any field work and they were both small scale. They have given me a taste of what geographers do but also allowed me to see more of both my campus and the Long Beach area.
In my human geography class, I had three outside assignments. The first was to interview students and complete a survey of transportation use on campus. I went around asking students what kind of transportation they use to get to school. Transportation is an issue both for environmental factors and urban studies. Long Beach is very public transportation friendly city and has a large bike user population. CSULB is mostly a commuter campus and the majority of students drive cars even though they can ride the bus for free. This assignment was similar to ones I had in journalism classes, so I felt right at home.
The next one was also similar to journalism except it was done in a group. It was a combination of observation and interviewing. We observed how public spaces were being used: walking, talking, sleeping, sitting , reading, etc. Such activities are important in urban planning studies when creating public spaces that will be convenient and inviting for people to use. We found that seating, proximity to the street, food and interesting things (artwork/fountains) attracted people to use public space. We also interviewed one person about why she was using the space.
The last assignment was one I enjoyed more because it allowed me to explore the campus. It was a bit like a treasure hunt because my group was looking for all the security features (cameras, emergency phones, etc.) and deciding how safe certain areas of campus were. We occasionally got lost and had to go over certain areas twice. But I visited the opposite end of campus (where there are no classrooms) and saw the Walter Pyramid, Carpenter Performing Arts Center (yes Richard and Karen Carpenter – they went to my school), the dance center, practice rooms for music students and the sports fields.
Each of these assignments out in the field helped me see the bigger picture of how the campus operates and also expanded my spatial knowledge. With each new area explored my campus seems to grow bigger and more interesting. It would be a shame to spend 4 years of my life confined to a certain area. I get one chance to see what CSULB and its students have to offer. I don’t plan to miss out.
I’ll talk about my field work outside of campus in my next post.