EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED AT FIELD CAMP: THE CORNELL EES FIELD PROGRAM
My semester in Hawai'i was the most exciting, intellectually fascinating, challenging and rewarding experience of my entire college career. Comments such as this one are nearly universal among our student participants, and those of us who went to field camp ourselves probably expressed similar sentiments after that experience as well. That field learning evokes such response may be reason enough to justify the endeavor, nevertheless, we have spent considerable time examining what we believe to be the causes of such enthusiasm, as well as some of the other benefits that students may not themselves consider. Most important is the relationship between field study and research on human cognition, which unequivocally demonstrates that authentic experience with the practice of science is the best way to learn. Field study, additionally, engenders independence, self-reliance, and a sense of accomplishment that few other learning environments produce. In the EES program students work extensively with non-academic mentors, wherein students learn that normal people are capable of accomplishing extraordinary things. What students derive from the sum of these experiences goes beyond scientific learning to include empowerment and inspiration, which is well-documented in the achievements of our program alumni.