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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2016  /  April 2016  /  Exploring the Ports and Beaches of Florida

Exploring the Ports and Beaches of Florida

Third year students experience the Southern way of life

Exploring the Ports and Beaches of Florida

In early April, a Third year Geography group spent a week in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, examining the role of the sea in the area’s culture, politics, and economy.

After a day of orientation, the course began with a tour of the city’s port facilities, meeting Homeland Security officials and members of the local environmental NGO seeking to prevent further dredging of the river. Next day, on a similar theme, Naval Station Mayport’s global connections were traced, as well as its relations with neighbouring beach communities.

The third day addressed the area’s contested racial history, with a visit to American Beach, the only area beach fully open to African Americans during the Jim Crow era, when state and local laws enforced racial segregation until the 1960s.

Then, a visit to Civil War-era Fort Clinch on Amelia Island explored the nexus of relationships between property markets, public access to the beach, and ongoing climate change, including meeting both a city planner and an insurance industry lobbyist.

Throughout, students employed a range of investigative methods, including archival research, surveys, and landscape interpretation. On the last day, ethnographic studies were used to examine the micro-scaled politics of life at the beach.

The group still had time to fully engage with American culture, attending the local baseball team’s season opener, enjoying local cuisine such as seafood and BBQ, and taking in some of the local Blues music scene.

The visit was judged to be a great success, and planning is has already begun to repeat it next year!


The group at Mayport