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School of Land Use and Environmental Change

Field study and field trips

Field trips

GATE strives to give students field experience that will enhance information presented in the classroom. Field trips are essential to geography programming, and as such are a required part of most courses.

These trips introduce students to new places, methods and ideas, and course schedules are often built around them.

See if your geography class has required field trips outside of class time.

Unless otherwise noted, field trips are mandatory. Please keep the following items in mind.

The UFV semester timetable will include a notation under specific geography courses informing the student as to whether or not a field trip outside of class time is required.

Dates will be posted on the department website one month prior to the start of classes. Students will also be notified within the first week of the course as to the dates and locations of the field trips.

Field trips that take place exclusively during class time (i.e. they do not require additional travel time outside of the course) may be arranged at a later time.

Most field trips, particularly for upper-division courses, will require Friday or weekend travel, and may require overnight travel.

If you are enrolled in a course with a mandatory field trip requirement, and you are unable to attend the field trip, notify the instructor as soon as possible.

Valid reasons for missing assignments (field trips) are outlined under Make-up exams and assignments. It is up to the instructor to determine if the reason given for missing a field trip meet the criteria for missing assignments.

If your field trip conflicts with another field trip or another university function, see your instructor no later than the first week of classes. They will either require you complete the field exercise on your own (when appropriate) or provide an alternative assignment that requires a comparable amount of time and research for completion.

If you miss the bus or cannot attend without just cause, the instructor will likely not assign an alternate assignment, and the student will receive a ‘0’ for the original exercise.

Instructors will require that field trip costs be paid ahead of time, particularly for any field trips that require bus travel and/or accommodations.

Field trips are integral to geography programming. Thus, field trip expenses should be considered the equivalent of laboratory fees.

The department may, as funds allow, help subsidize the cost of field trips. Your instructor will outline the costs, etc. with you in class.

Students that have paid ahead of time for travel and accommodations, but who suddenly cannot attend, or who miss the bus, and who do not have a valid reason for doing so, will not be reimbursed for field trip expenses paid ahead of time.  

Other field trips may require that students find their own way to the meeting place (for example, downtown Vancouver). If this is the case, it is up to the student to seek out and pay for their travel arrangements. If they have difficulty doing so, they must speak with the instructor at the earliest possible date.

Students are required to provide informed consent and, in many circumstances, sign a waiver of rights to claims form to participate on a field trip.

Students must be at least 19 years of age to do so. Otherwise a parent or guardian must sign the waiver form on their behalf.

Your instructor will discuss potential field trip risks with you ahead of travel.

Students who suffer from allergies that may be aggravated by travel or any medical conditions that may hamper or preclude participation in field trips must notify the instructor ahead of time so that accommodations or alternate arrangements can be made.

Students will be required to have a passport (or, if overland travel only, an enhanced BC Driver’s License) and clean criminal record for field trips to the United States.

If you are unable to travel to the US for legal reasons, please notify the instructor before or during the first week of the course.

Airline travel requires a passport. Students in GATE should ensure that their passport is current.

Travel insurance

Students are responsible for ensuring that they have proper medical travel insurance when entering the US.

Do not rely on coverage provided by your Medical Services Plan alone.

Students may already have insurance coverage through work, an extended health care plan, their parents’ coverage, or their credit cards.

Inexpensive travel insurance is available through BCAA, VanCity and other banks, travel agencies, etc.

Field trip time is considered class time, and as such, the Student Academic Misconduct‌ policy 70 applies. 

Alcohol consumption on field trips is not allowed except in a licensed establishment.

Students are expected to keep up with the rest of the class while in the field.

For trips that require travel by foot (e.g. hiking, urban walks, etc.), students should move at the same pace as the instructor.

For trips with multiple stops, students must be prepared to move in and out of vans and buses quickly, with all necessary supplies (e.g backpack, water, notebooks, etc.) in hand in order to keep with the schedule.

Students who face physical challenges in doing so should speak with the instructor ahead of time or at the first sign of difficulty.

Due Diligence

Many of the field trips involve exercises conducted along forest trails, waterways, and, in the case of some of the study tours, unfamiliar locales and environments (e.g. basalt fields, deserts, foreign urban environments).

It is the student’s responsibility to read and listen to all instructions given during field study so as to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.

Students experiencing physical difficulty that requires medical attention (e.g. heat stroke, bites, sprains, etc.) must notify the instructor immediately.

Field study opportunities

GATE offers multi-day and multi-week field study tours designed to introduce students to the physical and human geography of a region. Each tour is lead by two or three instructors.

These tours are not limited to geography students, but non-geography students will still need to meet the pre-requisites or otherwise obtain the permission of the instructor.

Evaluation is based on some combination of participation, field reports, essays and presentations.

GATE study tours take students for a 2-3 week tour to a specific region.

Each tour takes up to 15 students and equates to 9 credits, including Geog. 470.

Students enrolled on the tour will meet several times before and after the trip, but the majority of course time is spent in the field.

Study tours are optional. Geography majors who are unable to enroll in Geog. 470 for Adventures or a study tour will be required to take Geog. 452 or an internship in order to complete their degree.

Additional costs (beyond tuition) will be required.

Students enrolled in study tours pay tuition, as well as additional travel expenses not otherwise covered by tuition.

Students must apply for spots on these tours—space is often limited, so apply early.

Once accepted, you will be asked to secure your spot on the study tour with a deposit that will in turn be applied to the cost of the trip, and will count toward trip costs.

Typically held in August or September, Adventures in Geography tours take students on 5-6 day field trips to areas in the North American West.

Each Adventures course is worth five credits, unless otherwise noted, and may be taken as either Geography 470 (5 credits) or Geography 480-484 (4 credits). All students will pay the five credits tuition (or four credits and fee equivalent to one credit) plus the trip fee.

Students will meet several times before and after the trip. However, most time is spent in the field.

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