2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM


FLOOD, Tim P., Department of Geology, St. Norbert College, 100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115 and HAM, Nelson R., Department of Geology, St. Norbert College, 100 Grant Street, DePere, WI 54115, tim.flood@snc.edu

St. Norbert College (SNC) is a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. For the past two decades, the SNC geology department has run biannual international field trips. Most recently these trips have focused on Costa Rica because it provides diverse places of geologic interest, and travel is relatively safe and inexpensive. There are two major components to the field trip—the field trip itself, and pre and post-trip meetings (all of which constitute a full academic course). Prior to the trip, students and faculty meet in the fall term for approximately two hours per week to provide background and establish research projects for teams of students. The trip occurs during winter break for about two and one-half weeks; follow-up research and grading are completed during the second semester. Trip logistics are assigned to one faculty member who arranges travel and lodging, and manages the budget. An excellent in-country expeditor greatly aids logistics. The most significant challenges and concerns relate to funding and health/safety/liability. SNC funds this field-based course through a unique tuition arrangement that pays for faculty expenses and offsets some aspects of student expenses (e.g. research-project expenses); however, in turn faculty do not receive pay or release time for teaching the course. To the extent possible, health/safety/liability issues are addressed before the trip by the geology faculty along with various campus personnel (i.e. health center, risk management) who assist with pre-travel preparation. We have never experienced any major problems in these areas.

We believe our successes have justified our efforts. The international geology field trip provides students with valuable field experience in an international setting; additionally, student research projects often result in a presentation at a professional meeting and a nice highlight to their academic resume. The course also helps in our recruitment efforts, both for majors from within the College and from high school prospects. Based on our positive experiences, we encourage those schools not running a trip to give due consideration. With adequate preparation, and especially an in-country expeditor, successful operation of an international field trip does not have to be more onerous than one operated in the United States.