Field School 2019, Hydrology

Vancouver IslandUniversity

Geography Field Studies Courses and Field Schools

Geography Field Studies Courses and Field Schools

All students enrolled in the B.A. Major in Geography are required to complete GEOG 467 – Field Studies in Geography I. This course is delivered locally every spring. Students are encouraged to take this course at the end of their third year of studies so that they can apply the skills learned in their fourth-year courses.

GEOG 467 – Field Studies in Geography I is being offered at the Nanaimo campus. Students must register for GEOG 467 during the normal registration period for the academic year for the Spring semester. An initial orientation class will be held once early in the spring semester; the field-based course will be delivered immediately following final exams at the end of the Spring semester.

Note: This course is not part of Summer Session.

In some years, students may have the option of taking a field course in another part of Canada or outside the country as part of a larger geography field school program. The field studies may be offered as a single course (GEOG 465 - Special Field Studies in Geography) or as multiple courses in the case of a field school. The field school is often a six or nine credit program consisting of GEOG 465 and one or two additional courses (e.g. GEOG 466 - Regional Studies; GEOG 433 - Special Topics in Geography). Students enrolled in a six-credit, or more, field school program are eligible for student loans.

Trieste, Italy 2020 (Cancelled!)

The two-week Geography-English field school to Trieste, Italy (northern Italy, bordering Slovenia) in May 2020 was cancelled. Participants would have received 3 upper-level English credits and 3 upper-level Geography credits. There was also the option of doing a directed studies course with either instructor for an additional 3 credits. For more information contact Michele Patterson (

San Francisco Field School 2015

VIU students from Geography and Rec/Tourism participated in the Department’s second San Francisco field excursion (following up on the successful 2012 trip). Highlights included meetings with San Francisco's Director of Planning to discuss city growth issues, with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Community Relations Officer, tasked with the implementation of the Presidio Master Plan and with UC Berkeley Co-operative housing students, members of the largest such organization in North America. We also visited urban agriculture sites, studied architecture and urban form, explored the City's many ethnic neighborhoods and had a wide range of further social/cultural experiences throughout the Bay Area. This course is part of an ongoing series of Spring Break field trips which has focused on urban environments. Future offerings will continue to venture to urban centers in western North America and even farther afield. 
(3 credits) delivered as a directed studies course.

Portland and Seattle Field School 2014

VIU students participated in a Geography field school in Portland and Seattle at the end of February 2014. Students spent time studying local architecture and urban planning in a sustainable urban setting. Highlights included touring several buildings in Seattle and the Portland area. Sustainable urban planning was a central focus of the trip and had students coming away with a greater appreciation for “Green” systems. This was the third in a series of one-week Spring Break field schools (3 credits) delivered as a directed studies course.

Belize Field School – Summer 2014

Nine students participated in the most recent Geography adventure in Belize. Along with touring the northern part of the nation, including an extended stay at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, the students assisted the Village of Ladyville in the development of actions and recommendations that will lead to positive change for the Village. The work completed by the students will be used by the Village Council and also establishes a solid foundation of research for future field projects.

San Francisco Field School 2012

VIU students participated in a Geography field school in San Francisco and the surrounding area in February 2012. Students looked at issues relating to how a city functions in a topographically challenging setting, spent time exploring UC Berkeley, and travelled north to tour wine country. Highlights also included a review of water-front uses and a meeting at the City Planning Department with key staff members to discuss topical issues. While the focus was on urban design and architecture, the students also examined the landscape and natural features within San Francisco. This was the second in a series of one-week Spring Break field schools
(3 credits) delivered as a directed studies course.

Los Angeles and Anaheim Field School 2011

VIU students participated in a Geography field school in Los Angeles and Anaheim in February 2011. Students enjoyed an architecture and city planning tour of downtown Los Angeles, visited a thriving eco-village making waves in the community, got a behind the scenes tour of Disneyland by the Disney Imagineers, visited the UCLA campus and had an amazing time.

This was the first in a series of one-week Spring Break field schools (3 credits) delivered as a directed studies course.

Belize Field School – Summer 2009

Dr. Larry Wolfe delivered another Belizean geography field school in May and June 2009. GEOG 466, 467, and 468 were again offered; however, the theme of the 2009 field school involved planning for the mitigation of natural disasters in Belize, including hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. Disasters touch the human and natural resources of any country. The 2009 Belizean field school allowed students to apply their knowledge and skills to a range of social and physical planning issues. Emergency or disaster planning involves identifying hazards and vulnerable areas and people, and developing strategies for minimizing harm by preparing for emergencies and credible responses to such unpredictable events. Students had the opportunity to visit other areas of Belize and learn about tropical marine and terrestrial ecosystems, Caribbean and Central American culture, and archaeology.

This field school produced the following reports:



Belize Field School – Summer 2007


In Summer 2007, Larry Wolfe and Pam Shaw led a group of 19 students on a five-week field school to Belize. Students completed GEOG 466 – Regional Studies: Mesoamerica; GEOG 467 – Field Studies in Geography I; and, GEOG 468 – Field Studies in Geography II. Part of GEOG 466 was delivered prior to leaving for Belize in early May 2007. In addition to assisting Orange Walk Town in developing community planning policies, the group stayed at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, Indian Church Village/Lamanai Archaeological Site, Belmopan, and Caye Caulker. A summary of this field school experience is available at:

This field school produced the following reports: