Stanislaus State students are exploring the community and region of the Central Valley through the Keck Visual Anthropology Lab (KVAL) and the Geography program.

At KVAL, students tell the untold stories of the cultural communities that make up the Central Valley through short films and a digital video archive of cultural events. Through their work, students are preserving the heritages of people from Laos, Cambodia, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan and Israel.

KVAL facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration as students from diverse academic backgrounds such as anthropology, film and art work together towards the common goal of honoring the stories of the Central Valley.

Students have a safe space to reflect on their own histories and document the important stories of the community at KVAL. The process of creating films and footage has proven to be transformational for both students and interview subjects. The finished products are tools to create awareness, tolerance, education and enlightenment within a given culture as well as with those who interact with it from the outside. Students use the contemporary language of digital media to tell the age-old stories of the Central Valley, engaging with the community and participating in experiential learning.

Meanwhile, in the Geography program, undergraduate and graduate students are utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other geospatial tools such as web mapping to explore the Central Valley. Research projects and internships emphasize community engagement. One student is using an unmanned aerial vehicle to examine water use and the health of plants in the community, downloading information and visualizing data on a map. Another student is working on creating a spatial database of all the information needed to run the campus garden, including planting and watering times, number of seeds to plant, pest management, harvest dates, and expected and actual yield. By incorporating tools like GIS, students can study and visualize the surrounding community.