Field Exercise Instructions

Field Exercise I: Orienting

Equipment: Orienteering compass

Though we cannot be in the same place together, we are all situated in Earth’s geomagnetic field — just one of the field concepts that we might talk about today and tomorrow. Please take a few minutes to play around with the compass and try to orient yourself within this field.

Some questions to consider as we share our observations with each other: Where precisely are you located in this field? What direction are you facing? What is the disparity between true north and magnetic north?

Step by Step 

  • Either pick up your compass or place it on your table or desk with the “travel arrow” pointing straight ahead of you.
  • Note that the red magnetic needle points toward “Magnetic North” as opposed to “True (or, geographic) North.”
  • Notice or take note of the direction that you’re facing.
  • If you would like to find and/or correct for the “Magnetic Declination” of your specific location, you can quickly find yours here.
  • After a few minutes of getting oriented with our compasses, we will go around the Zoom room for a round of introductions/orientations:
    • What are your preferred name and pronouns?
    • Your location?
    • The approximate or precise direction that you’re facing while you’re facing all of us on Zoom?


Field Exercise II: Collecting

Equipment: Two glass vials

Reflect on the materiality of the field as you shift your attention to familiar settings. Please use a portion of the lunch break to collect two samples of something from your domestic or office environment, or even venture out on a walk outdoors.

Some questions to consider as we share our observations in small groups after the lunch break: What do the things you collected reveal about the site/land/location you inhabit? What do you learn from having two samples, instead of just one?

Step by Step

  • During the lunch break, please find two specimens and place them within your sample vials.
  • You might find them within your domestic or work space, or outside. They might be “natural” or “artificial.” You might want two samples of the “same” thing, or two different things. It’s up to you.
  • When we reconvene at 1:30pm, we’ll gather into small groups for show and tell. In addition to presenting your samples, please be prepared to say something about why you selected them and what they say about the place you’re in.


Field Exercise III: Field Notes

Equipment: Field book and pen

Please record some field notes from the first day of the workshop to be shared with the group on Saturday. Although you likely have notes from today’s presentations and discussions, please take a few moments at some point Friday night or Saturday morning to reflect on the workshop itself as a social, material, and/or virtual field.

Some questions to consider: How might our own conventions of convening and thinking be constituted as objects for observation, reflection, and perhaps intervention? How does the digital workshop differ from your experiences of events that were not mediated by a global pandemic and Zoom (fatigue)? What may be worth noting, reporting, and attending to — about the object(s) of our discussion, and about our modes of presentation and discussion — as we begin our second day together?

Step by Step

  • In preparation for tomorrow morning’s field exercise, we would like you to write down a few notes on the social and material field that we have constituted through today’s talks, discussions, and exercises.
  • These notes need not be long, but we would like to ask you to actually write or draw something about today’s proceedings.
  • Tomorrow morning, we will again meet in small groups for a brief discussion of our reflections and “findings.”
  • Our hope is that this exercise both helps us reflect on the practice of “fieldwork” in the human sciences and gives us some insight into our own “field-making” practices “at home” in (digital/pandemic) university/academic spaces.