About UEFS

UEFS classes will be held online in Summer Term 1 (May 10 to June 25, 2021), and the focus of the course will be on digital ethnography.  The deadline for submitting applications is March 1, 2021, and there will be no course fee this summer. If local health guidelines permit, we hope to offer some in-person outdoor placements with community partners for those students who are able and willing (this will not be required). Otherwise, students will collaborate with community partners online for 8-10 hours per week.  For more information, please contact the instructors, Tom Kemple and Amir Shiva: field.school@ubc.ca.  And be sure to check this page for updates!

Students from the 2017 cohort of the UBC Urban Ethnographic Field School.

Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territories, is a city defined by its expanding connections with cultures from around the world. At the Urban Ethnographic Field School (formerly IVEFS) students learn from and contribute to community organizations working in relation to this diversity. Organized by the UBC Departments of Anthropology and Sociology as a fieldwork-based course, the UEFS trains students on how to conduct in-depth, community-based research concerned with the social, political, cultural and economic lives of urban Vancouver residents. Students will have a hands-on learning of ethnographic methods, including techniques for participant observation, writing field notes, conducting in-depth interviews, as well as interpretative analysis through their work at the community organizations. By immersing themselves in ethnographic research, students gain valuable experience linking hands-on research in the classroom to theoretical paradigms related to the study of migration, transnationalism, global diasporas, and multicultural communities.

The UEFS is a six-week, six-credit intensive course during the first six-week summer term. Students meet four days a week (Mon-Thurs) where they receive training in ethnographic methods and spend eight hours a week placed with a local Neighbourhood House or community organization that works directly with urban communities. In conjunction with community partners, students develop final projects based on their experiences in the field and the needs of the organization.

See our Community Partners

The Urban Ethnographic Field School (originally called the Immigrant Vancouver Ethnographic Field School) was established in 2010 by Professors Jennifer Chuong in Sociology and Alexia Bloch in Anthropology. Each year the focus of the Field School continues to expand beyond a concern with the experiences of recent immigrants in Vancouver to include student engagement with the city’s many vibrant communities and neighbourhood-based organizations.

Janice Wu

Cohort: Summer Term 2017
Placement: Gordon Neighbourhood House

As a third year student going into fourth year, UEFS provided me with a great opportunity to connect with the community on a different level. It allowed me to reach out to communities and organizations in Vancouver which I would not have been aware of. The best part of UEFS was that we all grew together within the six weeks, creating valuable bonds between our community partners and the peers that we were learning with. Plus, it was a fun way to earn six credits within six weeks! At my placement, Gordon Neighbourhood House, I actively partook in growing crops and selling locally grown food to the downtown West End community. Since, I don’t live in that area, it was an eye opening experience to know how a neighbourhood house runs, which principles run the place, and how similar organizations can positively (or negatively) influence or affect the community members in the area. Overall, this class taught me to think, analyze, observe, and share in a new perspective. It was an invaluable experience for me.


Veronica Cho

Cohort: Summer Term 2017
Placement: Atira Women's Resource Society

UEFS was an amazing experience. It was an opportunity to be truly hands-on with my sociological education, in the sense that we were learning theories inside the classroom and applying them in our community placements. After the six-week course was over, I continued to volunteer at my placement. The value of fostering connections in the community, professors and students was invaluable and I would recommend applying to this program for any student who is interested.