Geneseo’s Brooklyn-based program offers urban research opportunities

Geneseo students can take classes through a program in Red Hook, Brooklyn over the summer. After completing an online preparation course, students have an immersive, two-day research experience. Represented departments include geography, art history, political science, history and English. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Geneseo students can take classes through a program in Red Hook, Brooklyn over the summer. After completing an online preparation course, students have an immersive, two-day research experience. Represented departments include geography, art history, political science, history and English. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Although Geneseo is a wonderful place, if you are a geography major with an interest in urban or city planning, the college does not offer many research opportunities in these subjects. 

As such, Geneseo recently began offering a program in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where students are given the opportunity to conduct research in an urban setting after doing an online course designed to prepare them for work in the field. 

In addition to the geography course, numerous other classes are offered for people who want to do research in an urban setting, including art history, political science, English and history. 

Thanks to Greg O’Connell ‘64, Geneseo has a warehouse in the center of Red Hook that serves as a classroom and a base for research. Students in the program spend two days in the summer at this facility after completing the online course.  

 “The goal of the program is to provide an alternate way of learning, a play space style of research,” program head Madeline Smith ‘14 said. 

Though the program is only in its second year, feedback from both faculty and students indicate that it has been a success thus far. 

Jennifer Rogalsky from the geography department has been extremely involved with the program. She taught a course in Red Hook in 2016, is involved with the planning committee and is currently on sabbatical for research on the gentrification in Red Hook. Her class, Geography 377—which focuses on urban planning—is a requirement for urban geography minors and counts as an elective for the geography major and minor. 

The course benefits both students and professors, according to Rogalsky. 

“Lots of the teaching happens easier,” Rogalsky said. “Teaching happens naturally when you’re out showing them the topic. It translates well to the students.” 

Rogalsky also noticed that students’ writing improved dramatically due to their research. 

“I think that it is because they are writing from actual experience, not just abstract ideas learned out of a textbook,” Rogalsky said.

Geography major senior True Capalbo—who took Rogalsky’s class in Summer 2016—echoed this sentiment. When asked about his favorite part of the program, the most enjoyable part was interacting with the locals, accomplishing data mining and understanding what they feel about the city, Capalbo said.  

Capalbo also explained that the two days in the city completely changed his—and many of his classmates’—perspective. 

“If it’s a hands-on experience you’re looking for, that’s what this program is,” Capalbo said. 

In addition to the benefits of an immersive research experience, the program also offers a chance for students who can’t study abroad to do research and to engage in a learning experience outside of the Geneseo campus. 

The Red Hook program is offered again this summer. The program includes Rogalsky’s geography course as well as Art History 173, English 202, History 249 and Political Science 120. 

Geneseo’s summer program in Red Hook provides a beneficial research experience for students of all majors. In pairing a hands-on learning method with a completely immersive environment, students will be sure to get the most out of their courses.