There’s Room For Field Trips at the College Level, Too

From the L.A. Times to the Norton Simon Museum, we’re increasing opportunities for enriched learning


Lilit Sedrakyan / Staff Photographer

Darrell Kunitomi shows students Sunday’s paper.

This month, my journalism students had an opportunity to visit the Los Angeles Times printing facilities in Downtown Los Angeles, where they were exposed to the moving pieces that lead to a print product a subscriber can read and synthesize as they drink their morning coffee. The trip made quite an impression on a group of nearly 40 students.

That’s not unusual. Last year, one of my students went on to write for the Glendale News-Press, owned by the L.A. Times, as a freelancer following a trip to the facility’s editorial offices. 

When it was still in operation, I would take my students to the L.A. Times historic headquarters. The previous owner, Tribune Media, sold off assets, including the historic building which it rented back to the newspaper at an exorbitant cost. That prompted the paper’s new owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, to move the newsroom to El Segundo, Calif. 

“It’s one of the most incredible buildings ever,” said Darrell Kunitomi, a veteran employee of the Times, about the old headquarters. “[It was] built the same year as the Observatory.” 

The problem was that the newspaper was paying $1 million a month to rent it and the cost was going up. So, in the near future, we may have to drive down a bit further to get a taste of the Times’ editorial offices.

“[Soon-Shiong] is going to build an incredible operation,” with an auditorium, test kitchen, outdoor plaza, museum, and more. Kunitomi, who has guided many Glendale Community College classes around the newspaper facilities, plans to set up an El Segundo tour and then retire. 

“I’ve been around a long time. I’ve met the world,” he said during our tour. 

I’m a proponent of field trips, as I’ve had many students at the college tell me they’ve never even set foot in a museum or can’t recall whether or not they did in grade school. 

That inspired me to incorporate art restitution feature writing examples into our curriculum and schedule a trip to the Norton Simon Museum in one. It’s a wonderful enhancement to our curriculum, touching the important area of feature writing. 

It also serves to help students think more critically about the many shifts in art – from the School of Caravaggio to Impressionistic art to Cubism.

“More-advantaged families may take their children to these cultural institutions outside of school hours, but less-advantaged students are less likely to have these experiences if schools do not provide them,” according to Education Next. 

“With field trips, public schools viewed themselves as the great equalizer in terms of access to our cultural heritage.”

However, despite the clear advantages to field trips, the same study notes that they are becoming obsolete. 

“Today, culturally enriching field trips are in decline.” The report cites figures showing a “steep drop in school tours.” 

College-level trips, moreover, are rare, but I have noted a trend of higher student success when there are more opportunities for hands-on learning and getting out of the classroom.

While we can’t go back in time to provide these opportunities for enriched learning community colleges can foster an atmosphere of enhancing education with a couple of trips per semester. It enhances our curriculum, provides an atmosphere of immersive learning, and gives many community college students an opportunity they never had before. 

To view a time-lapse of our museum trip, visit: