INHABITING OTHER LIVES: HCY2
FIU HONORS COLLEGE
Faculty: John Bailly & John Clark
CITY AS TEXT™ AT FIU
Machonis, Peter A., ed. Shatter the Glassy Stare: Implementing Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Birmingham, AL: NCHC, 2008.
Frost Art Museum
Primera Casa Fifth Floor
Lakes and Public Art
STRUCTURE AND SCHEDULE
This CAT is adapted for a class of the Honors College at FIU. It is designed to fit into a small section, as an introduction to CAT. The aim is to develop relationships in the class and to discover the campus.
Students will be divided into 5 groups of 4. Students groups should be formed randomly.
Strategies: Mapping, Observing, Listening, Reflecting
City as Text™ methodology is based on the concept of active or experiential learning. Participants are split up into small groups with an assigned area of the city/place to explore in their three to four hours. They report back 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 is a better view than just one person or one group doing the same exercise.
There are four basic strategies used in these exercises: mapping, observing, listening, and reflecting:
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.
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.
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, 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), 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 survive there.
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. Don’t settle for easy answers. Don’t 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.