GEOG 401 Capstone::
Migration & Mexico

Captain CanuckCaptain AmericaInstructor: Paul Kaldjian
Office: Phillips Hall 245
Phone: 836-2321/836-3244





TA & Service Learning


Geography Capstones
According to the UWEC catalogue, GEOG 401, the capstone seminar, is designed to integrate theory and methodology, quantitative, and cartographic techniques, and field work to serve as a ‘capstone experience’ for geography majors. Literature review, research design, data collection, and presentation skills are stressed.

This geography capstone offering is unique for its inter-disciplinary reach into the humanities and other social sciences.  While it adopts a human geographic perspective, Latin American Studies, Spanish and other majors are invited to participate and will be required to draw from their own fields for background, theory, techniques, approaches  and questions, all part of the common project.  Qualitative research methods will be developed for local and regional use, and one week of directed field work in Mexico is required.

Capstone Overview
This capstone seminar will be a fieldwork-based study of Latino migration to Western WI, including one week in Veracruz, Mexico. Generally, the project is geared toward understanding current issues and presenting findings.  Specifically, students will study the causes, consequences, implications and significance of Latino migration to Western Wisconsin, using Buffalo, Trempealeau and Pepin Counties as the study area, using dairy farming/agriculture as an initial case study sector.   Students will investigate the needs of and impacts on both the receiving and sending communities, as well as those of the migrants themselves.

After reading background information, capstone students will collect data from primary and secondary sources.  Central to the project, students will survey and interview migrant workers, their employers, community service providers (e.g., teachers, health care workers, police) and other interested or concerned community members.  To gather information and perspectives from the migrants’ sending communities, students will travel to Veracruz, Mexico for one week with Shaun Duvall, Director of Puentes/Bridges, a local non-profit that specializes in bridging the gap between WI/MN employers and their Mexican workers.  Ms. Duvall has designed and led numerous informational trips for area farmers, community members and students.  The specially adapted Puentes trip will be to the towns/villages from which Mexican migrants to Western Wisconsin originate.

Upon returning from Mexico, students will compile and analyze their data for presentation in a traveling, educational poster display to be used in regional public facilities (court houses, libraries, schools, etc.).  Students will explore options and recommendations for approaching the issue of migration in Western Wisconsin.

Geographic Understanding
Since an important objectives of the course include learning the framework used by geographers to examine the world, it will include learning some tools of geographical analysis and understanding fundamental theories and concepts in geography.According to the National Geography Standards developed in 1994, a geographically informed person should have the five skills listed below.  In addition to learning the specific geography of Middle East and North Africa, working on that skills that a geographically informed person knows underlie the course homework assignments and class discussions and lectures.

A geographically informed person knows how to:

1. Ask geographic questions -- Questions revolve around asking why things are  where they are, how they got there and what is the significance of their being there?
2. Acquire geographic information: Geographic information is information about locations, the physical and human characteristics of those locations, and the geographic activities and conditions of the people who live in those places.
3. Organize geographic information: Once collected, geographic information should be organized and displayed in ways that help analysis and interpretation; these range from the visual and graphical (e.g., maps, graphs, diagrams, tables) to the written (e.g., essays, paragraphs, pertinent quotes, tables).
4. Analyze geographic information: involves seeking patterns, relationships and connections, noting such things as similarities, trends and differences over space and time
5. Answer geographic questions:  Successful geographic inquiry culminates in the development and communication of generalizations, inferences and conclusions based on the data gathered, organized and analyzed.