Lab and Field Skills

Valpo’s geography program teaches the discipline not as a body of knowledge, but as an approach to learning about the world.

This teaching philosophy means that collecting data in the field and analyzing it in the lab are essential to the curriculum.

Geographic research involves the systematic observation and collection of data and the analysis of data to address a specific question, problem, or hypothesis.
Among the techniques and skills Valpo geography majors master:
  • Topographic surveying
  • Sampling and measurement techniques
  • Responsible methods of interviewing and surveying human subjects
  • Acquisition of position data using GPS
  • Digital cartography
  • Mapping, modeling and analysis using Geographic Information Systems
  • Use of remote sensing technology to extract data from airborne and satellite imagery

Valpo’s F.P. Kallay Geographic Applications Laboratory offers state-of-the-art, professional-quality technology just for undergraduate geography and meteorology students at Valpo. The lab’s equipment includes
  • More than 20 Dell Optiplex 960 desktop computers that provide access to latest versions of GIS, cartography, and remote sensing software, including
    • ArcGIS 10.3
    • Quantum GIS 2.10
    • R Studio
    • Multispec 3.4
    • ENVI 5.2
    • Adobe Creative Suite

Field study also introduces students to the use of a variety of surveying and measurement tools. Handheld and Backpack GPS receivers (Trimble, Garmin, DeLorme) are readily available for student researchers.

The department regularly offers field study courses as well as field trips within other courses, and students undertake independent field research in a variety of locations. Recent locations include:
  • The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Chicago
  • Major Indian Mound sites of the Southeastern United States
  • Yellowstone National Park and other sites in Wyoming
  • Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
  • The Sonoran Desert in Arizona
  • Hawaii’s Big Island
  • Alaskan glaciers