Students and staff reflect on our November 2023 field-class to Boston
A group of second- and third-year students recently returned from a week in the US city of Boston – one of our international fieldwork destinations for those interested in human geography. The trip is the highlight of the module ‘Boston Reworked: The Making of a North American City’, which traces the development and reinvention of the city from colonial times to the present day. During the week-long visit, students and staff stayed right in the heart of the city, close to Boston Common and Chinatown, using this as a base to explore different neighbourhoods and meet the city’s diverse communities.
This year, groups engaged with activists campaigning against gentrification and working to create more inclusive regeneration programmes in South Boston; visited a building in the city’s Italian North End saved by campaigners for the benefit of the community; and met with a charity providing affordable housing in a part of the city increasingly being turned over to the development of university laboratories and biotech industries.
They also conducted their own ethnographies of contrasting neighbourhoods – carefully observing, listening to and engaging with the everyday life of Bostonians – such as in the chic and wealthy Beacon Hill or amidst the glass and steel buildings of the newly-developed Seaport district.
Perhaps the highlight of the week was students working together creatively in small teams to produce podcasts based on field work projects on some very wide-ranging themes: urban farming and food justice initiatives; using archaeology to engage the public with the role of slavery Boston’s history; tackling health inequalities and racial injustice in the contemporary city, and how different heritage groups present Boston’s history as a place of freedom and liberty.
Fieldtrips are always a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get to know one another better – deepening friendships and making lifetime memories, and we did plenty of this in Boston! Together we shared many other experiences in an exciting city – from enjoying its food culture and restaurants, to visiting sporting events, going to concerts, bowling alleys and cinemas, hanging out in coffee shops and galleries, and even indulging a little retail therapy. We all enjoyed being Americans for a week!
Read more about our fieldtrips in London, the rest of the UK and other international destinations here.