Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:40 PM


HENDERSON, Stephen W., Geology, Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA 30014 and MARTIN, Anthony J., Department of Environmental Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322,

Teaching geology in the field at a liberal arts school without geology majors necessitates approaches that connect geology to students with diverse backgrounds, interests, and goals. This challenge is especially apparent with first- and second-year students, many of whom have not yet been exposed to any geological concepts, let alone in a field setting. As a partial solution to these problems and opportunities, we attempt to open our students' eyes to basic principles of geology and scientific methods through the use of field examples, while also encouraging them to associate geology with other facets of their educational experiences. A key component of these field courses is the development of observational skills, which is largely facilitated through required journaling and field sketching.

The first field course that we taught, Desert Geology, explores the connections between desert landforms, arid climates, and the biomes represented in Big Bend National Park. In addition, there is a strong emphasis on changing environments through geologic time. In another course, Dinosaurs and Their World, we want our students to envision dinosaurs as living organisms within ancient ecosystems, as well as understand and appreciate scientific methods at work in the study of these organisms. This course is taught in Colorado and Utah through a combination of fieldwork and museum tours. Modern and Ancient Tropical Environments, taught on San Salvador Island (Bahamas), uses connections between the modern marine and terrestrial environments and their Holocene and Pleistocene equivalents in the rock record there. This method allows students to understand the preservation potential of features within these environments and gain direct experience with concepts of uniformitarianism. Geology and Culture in Scotland explores the connections between geology, landforms, resources, and how geology has influenced Scottish settlement patterns, history, myth, storytelling, and literature. These courses, focusing on an integrated study of a particular area, represent excellent settings that allow students to see connections between seemingly unrelated disciplines within the liberal arts.