Men excavating

Human geographers at SDSU are interested in understanding how people maintain livelihoods under changing economic and political circumstances. This requires that we pay attention to employment and income earning activities as well as social reproduction – the everyday activities that take place outside of work, but are essential in supporting the life and wellbeing of individuals and communities and include the provision of food, shelter, clothing, and care. We study these issues in a variety of places, including southern California and Ecuador. We are particularly interested in informal and precarious work.


Informal Work in Los Angeles

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli conducted research on Latina immigrants who are working without contracts, benefits, and labor protections in various sectors of L.A.’s economy, including low-wage manufacturing and service industries. She examined the role of local employment opportunities, labor market institutions, and social networks in shaping participation in this type of work.

Ethnic Food Businesses in City Heights

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is studying formal and informal food businesses that are owned and managed by immigrants or refugees in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. She is interested in the obstacles faced by ethnic entrepreneurs in opening and successfully running their businesses and the social and emotional costs of their business endeavors.

Street Vendors and Beggars in Latin America

Kate Swanson has worked with Indigenous women and children who beg and sell on the streets of Ecuador’s largest cities. Her work explores ideas surrounding migration, childhood, gender, and race, as well as ongoing conflicts over efforts to “cleanse” public spaces of Indigenous street workers in order to improve the urban image for tourism.

Roma children and families

Stuart Aitken has worked on projects involving Roma families in Slovenia and (with Jasmine Arpagian) Romania.

The Erased Populations in Slovenia

Stuart Aitken has worked with ethnic Bosnians, Serbs and Croatians who lost their permanent residency status and citizen rights in Slovania.



Survey of the location, function and spread of cities; the spatial and functional arrangement of activities in cities, leading to an analysis of current urban problems: sprawl, city decline, metropolitan transportation. Field trips may be arranged.

Political and economic forces shaping the structure and organization of cities; physical and human consequences of urbanization; environmental, economic and social sustainability of cities. Housing, transportation, land use, urban services, employment, segregation, and social inequality.

Worldwide trends in urbanization. Case studies of selected cities from various culture areas with focus on international variations in city structure and urban problems.

Intensive study of a spatial aspect of human geography. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content.