Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM
IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING GEOLOGY TO URBAN STUDENTS AS PART OF GENERAL EDUCATION CURRICULUM
One of the important functions of general education (liberal arts and sciences) courses is to expose students to possible areas of professional activity that they may not have thought much about or even been aware of. In addition to fulfilling the general goal of producing better educated and well-informed citizens, for many, general education may provide an introduction to a career field. This is particularly important for a public university serving a student population with a predominantly urban background and a population which, demographically, is underrepresented in certain areas of endeavor. Courses should be perceived as relevant to students’ lives and the issues they may care about, or are confronted with. Course content should be academically appropriate to college freshmen or sophomores. It should be ‘doable’ by our students with a reasonable amount of diligence on their part. At a time when the U. S. is rapidly losing its’ leadership position in the world in science and technology, we would indeed be remiss if we were to give science ‘short shrift’ in our educational institutions. It has been very rare to have a student come to York College for the purpose of majoring in geology. The majors we have had and the students we have graduated into successful careers in the geosciences were recruited by their exposure to the subject in general education courses. I’m sure that the experience has been similar in many other disciplines. Opening professions in science, technology and mathematics to members of underrepresented groups is good for our society in general. Many pressing questions that we face, as a society require a basic understanding of science to be addressed intelligently. Students become better informed citizens as a result of exposure to the sciences in college. General education science courses should have titles that reflect their relevance to problems faced by modern society. For example, “Earth and Environmental Science”, rather than “Geology” and “Energy Systems Science” rather than “Physics”. Exposure to science in, at least two courses should be part of every baccalaureate student’s college experience. One needs to introduce science in general and the other to develop important concepts in a particular field in a little more depth often labeled as experiential learning.