Learning to Craft: Integrating Fieldwork into the Human Geography Curriculum

Authors: Roger Picton*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: craft-production, beer, small cities, post-industrial, fieldwork, undergraduate teaching, pedagogy, SOTL
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Fieldwork in geography is recognized for improving learning outcomes (Cook, 2010), improving recall and comprehension (Kent et al., 1997), and fostering critical thinking and learning (Healy and Jenkins, 2000) among undergraduate students. However, despite the importance of fieldwork to the discipline, a recent review of geography programs has shown that the role of fieldwork in university geography is limited and in decline (Wilson et al., 2017). This paper charts my experiment with a semester long, course-based, student-led study on how craft breweries (microbreweries and brew pubs) in Ontario (Canada) are reinvigorating defunct industrial locations in small cities. Given the exceptional growth of craft brewers in Central Ontario and its rich fabric of historic and industrial buildings, the area provides an appropriate site to test a fieldwork-based research methodology for undergraduate students. The research project asks: 1) How can fieldwork on craft brewing be integrated into an undergraduate human geography course; 2) What is the value and benefit of integrating fieldwork, such as site-specific breweries, into the human geography curriculum? The paper provides an overview of my course design, the advantages offered by the course experience, and the challenges and limitations of such an approach to teaching and learning in geography, as well as directions for future research.

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