GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 6-8
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


VULAVA, Vijay M., Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424 and CALLAHAN, Timothy J., Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424,

Water resource processes and issues are receiving more interest at all levels in higher education. While traditional courses stress the concepts and principles of hydrology, hydrogeology, and water resources, it can be logistically difficult and expensive to provide students with substantive hands-on training and experience. Toward this end, and to provide students with exposure to global water resources issues, we have designed a 3-week field studies course along the entire length of the Ganges River in India, a region in which water is a critical economic, environmental, and cultural resource. Complex geology and ecological settings, poor river management, inconsistent precipitation patterns, climate change impacts, significant water pollution, and burgeoning population have resulted in severe degradation of the river. The course delves into all these issues and is timed to coincide with the end of the pre-monsoon summer season to show students the importance of the dry-wet transition in this region. The target audience is students who have completed a sequence of introductory geology courses, but expectations and learning goals are calibrated to match students’ interests and background for each time the course is offered. Students make observations of local and regional geology, water balance, and water quality conditions and they also collect on-site water-related data at locations near the river headwaters in the Lesser Himalaya, in the Ganges Plains, and near the mouth in the Sundarbans estuary system. This allows students to reflect on the changing physical, chemical, and anthropological character of the river from headwaters to the mouth. We will present examples of student work to show achievement of student learning outcomes and also discuss practical and logistical issues with operating this international course. Students also gain more nuanced perspectives on the role of water on society, culture, and religion in this region.