2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 87-12
Presentation Time: 11:10 AM


DAVIS, P. Thompson, Department of Natural & Applied Sciences, Bentley University, 175 Forest St, Waltham, MA 02452 and ACKERT Jr., Robert P., Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, pdavis@bentley.edu

Since 2010, we have led five January-term trips to New Zealand for our Global Climate Change 3-cr course and three May-term trips to Iceland for our Principles of Geology 4-cr course at Bentley University. Both courses satisfy general education science requirements for undergraduate business majors. Bentley supports its faculty-led course-abroad programs with a tuition waiver, which allows us to offer each of the courses for about $5000. This fee is all inclusive, covering faculty stipends, round-trip air fares, local transport by chartered bus, lodging typically in YHA hostels, and meals. The courses are capped at 16 students, the maximum number that we can reasonably manage on field stops. This number is also small enough that special arrangements are not needed for lodging or restaurants.

Students attend three preparation class meetings toward the end of the preceding semester. The instructors provide overviews of the course topics during the first two meetings, along with a selection of specific topics for three student research projects related to course content. The third meeting consists of 10-minute PPT presentations by students on their first research topic. The other two research topics require students to prepare two 2-page photo-essays, one specific to a planned field stop and one on a more general topic. The 2-page photo essays are collated into a field trip guidebook, downloadable to handheld devices. Students are expected to submit drafts of their research topics, which usually undergo multiple revisions before being approved.

In the field, we undertake several quantitative field projects to give students the opportunity to collect and interpret data, such as measurement of lichen diameters to determine the rough age of Neoglacial moraines, or measurement of stream discharge and sediment load. In lieu of exams, students are required to maintain a course journal that we evaluate at the end of the course for content and reflection.