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Appendix D: City as Text[TM] strategies: mapping, observing, listening, reflecting.

City as Text[TM] methodology, designed by Bernice Braid for the Honors Program at Long Island University and first implemented in the 1976 NCHC Honors Semester in Washington D.C., is based on the concept of active or experiential learning. The title City as Text[TM] has been used by members of the NCHC Semesters Committee since 1983 and, since applications are not necessarily limited to a city, is also referred to as Place as Text. In addition to Honors Semesters, an abbreviated version of City as Text[TM] is currently used at the annual NCHC conference: an intense three--to four-hour structured exploration of the conference city and surrounding environment. At these conference walkabouts, students and faculty actively investigate not only the local culture and history but also the local economy, ecology, geography, and politics. Participants are split up into small groups with an assigned area of the city to explore in their three to four hours. They return for a general discussion at the end of their walkabout and exchange their insights with others who have explored other areas of the same city. The idea is that the sum of everyone's experience provides a better view than just one person or one group doing the same exercise.

Participants use four basic strategies in these exercises: mapping, observing, listening, and reflecting.

1 Mapping: You will want to be able to construct, during and after your explorations, the primary kinds of buildings, points of interest, centers of activity, and transportation routes (by foot, vehicle, or other means). You will want to look for patterns of housing, traffic flow, and social activity that may not be apparent on any traditional map. Where do people go, how do they get there, and what do they do when they get there?

2 Observing: You will want to look carefully for the unexpected as well as the expected, for the familiar as well as the new. You will want to notice details of architecture, landscaping, social gathering, clothing, possessions, decoration, signage, and advertising.

3 Listening: You will want to talk to as many people as you can and to find out from them what matters to them in their daily lives, what they need, what they enjoy, what bothers them, and what they appreciate. Strike up conversations everywhere you go. Ask about such matters as how expensive it is to live there (dropping by a real estate agency could be enlightening), where to find a cheap meal (or a good one or an expensive one), what the local politics are (try to find a local newspaper), and what the history of the place is, what the population is like (age, race, class, profession, etc.), what people do to have a good time. In other words, imagine that you are moving to that location and try to find out everything you would need to learn to flourish there.

4 Reflecting: Throughout your explorations, keep in mind that the people you meet, the buildings in which they live and work, the forms of their recreation, their modes of transportation--everything that they are and do--are important components of the environment. They are part of an ecological niche. You want to discover their particular roles in this ecology: how they use it, contribute to it, damage or improve it, and change it. You want to discover not only how but why they do what they do. Do not settle for easy answers. Do not assume you know the answers without doing serious research. Like all good researchers, make sure you are conscious of your own biases and that you investigate them as thoroughly as you investigate the culture you are studying.
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Publication:Shattering the Glassy Stare: Implementing Experiential Learning in Higher Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Previous Article:Appendix C: How to organize city as Text[TM].
Next Article:Appendix E: Written assignments.

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