Geography Vancouver Summer Program with Julian S. Yates

Faculty of Geography
Geography Vancouver Summer Program (VSP): Environment, Resources, and Sustainable Development

What are some of the key learning outcomes for this course?
As a summer course for international students, mainly from China, the course was designed as an introduction to thinking about sustainable development in Canada. Field trips were organized to help students think through sustainability problems in real-world contexts. They were expected to conduct research during the field trips in order to write a field trip report that engaged critically with that week’s theme. The UBC Farm visit was included in a week where the focus was on the politics of land and food.

How has the UBC Farm assisted you in meeting these specific learning outcomes?

Given that this was the first time in Vancouver for the students, the UBC Farm trip gave us the opportunity to explore the UBC campus and the wide variety of grounded research being conducted at UBC. The trip helped to develop an understanding of some of UBC’s history, in an intellectual and political-economic sense. It also helped to give a sense of what Canadians think is important in the context of food production and agricultural research, and enabled the students to engage directly with UBC Farm employees and researchers.

What curricula material, activities or approaches do you utilize in this course that further develop students’ learning of the key learning outcomes?

The field trip was designed as part of a critical investigation for the students. Although UBC Farm employees were unaware of this, the students were asked to be proactive in asking questions so as to help develop a critical field trip report on the theme of land and food (we also visited the Sole Food Street Farms and the Yale Town Farmer’s Market). So the trip was designed to help teach research methods and critical thinking while in the field and in placing field observations into broader debates and contexts.

What has been your experience in utilizing the farm with your students?

The tour provided by the farm was a good introduction to the farm’s activities, and engaged in some useful, relevant topics – such as how UBC Farm has been defended against urban development over the years. The Farm was a particularly useful destination, as we could walk to the farm and back within the 3-hour class time period.


Julian S. Yates, PhD – Sessional Instructor and Post-doctoral fellow
Julian is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability and a member of the Program on Water Governance team. Julian has more than a decade of experience working in the field of international development geographies, including graduate level research and employment with international development NGOs. Julian’s work focuses on the intersection between the politics of knowledge and social mobilization for overcoming poverty and inequality. His current work explores the rollout of small-scale water filtration facilities among BC’s First Nations communities – an approach that gained political expediency due to the recently introduced Water Sustainability Act.