American Indian Youth and Geography

Geographic Learning for Children

The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth and Space (now the YESS Research Center) launched a new initiative to work with Native American children and youth in the San Diego area to promote the pursuit of a college education and expose them to the value of geography as a field of study.  In Summer 2013, PhD students Lydia Wood and Sam Cortez worked with faculty members Kate Swanson, Thomas Herman (Adjunct), and Giorgio Curti (Adjunct) – as well as Professor David Kamper from American Indian Studies— to bring geography learning activities into the American Indian Recruitment Program (AIR).  AIR has been working to increase Native American participation in higher education for over ten years, and this partnership, funded by a President’s Leadership Fund award, helped SDSU geographers make connections with local indigenous youth and their communities.

AIR Summer at Mission Trails


Building healthier communities and pathways to higher education with native youth american youth

During the 2013-14 school year, an SDSU team launched a related project to mentor Native American youth and encourage them to pursue studies in geography.  Based on input from community and school leaders, this second project focused on Native American students enrolled in community colleges and sought to provide support encouragement for advancement to a 4-year degree program.  This project was led by PhD student Denise Goerisch and matched nine Native students with mentors who were graduate students in Geography at SDSU. This year-long mentorship program was funded by a $10,000 grant from the HDR Foundation.

Team building activities

These projects led to a PhD dissertation project for Lydia Wood and an ongoing relationship between the Departments of Geography and American Indian Studies, which has generated further collaborative projects.

Mission Trails

Click to read more: Building Healthier Communities and Pathways to Higher Education with Native American Youth

AIR Summer at Torrey Pines

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