2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


SURPLESS, Kathleen D., Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford Univ, 450 Serra Mall, Building 320, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, ksurpless@stanford.edu

The Geological and Environmental Sciences (GES) Department at Stanford University found that dedicated teaching and excellent course offerings were no longer sufficient to attract students to the GES major. Accordingly, the department implemented several initiatives to recruit students and improve the GES major. These included appointing a faculty “Undergraduate Program Director,” creating an “Undergraduate Program Coordinator” full-time staff position, improving outreach and recruiting within the university, revising curricular requirements, creating an undergraduate summer research fellowship program, and building community among current GES majors. The Program Director and Coordinator work together with the GES faculty to advise students and address programmatic issues, and the Coordinator handles additional outreach and departmental initiatives for undergraduates. Outreach efforts include informational posters about GES within and outside the geology building, participation in “Major Nights” hosted by dormitories and the Office of Undergraduate Advising Programs, hosting an annual GES Open House for prospective majors, creating and maintaining a departmental web page for undergraduates, and distributing informational material to students in introductory-level GES courses. The undergraduate curriculum was revised to eliminate multiple tracks and replace them with a more flexible curriculum consisting of a shorter series of core courses and numerous elective units. An introductory-level three-week field course is part of the required core curriculum and has proven highly successful in student recruitment. The summer research fellowship program, largely supported by university funding, greatly improved undergraduate research opportunities in GES by allowing the department to provide 8-10 undergraduate students with summer stipends and research funding. The fellowship program enhances GES community-building efforts, which also include designating a large workroom and lounge to GES undergraduates, hosting social events for GES majors throughout the academic year, and creating a senior seminar course required of all majors. GES undergraduate numbers have increased significantly over the three years that these initiatives have been in place.