Paper No. 33-1
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM
US GEOLOGY FIELD CAMPS IN AN IRISH SETTING: A TWENTY-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE OF TRANS-ATLANTIC TEACHING COLLABORATIONS IN THE WEST OF IRELAND
The west of Ireland is an ideal location for undergraduate field-based geology programmes. Its geology and landscapes bring into focus elements of the Pre-Cambrian, Palaeozoic and Cenozoic eras. Indeed, the ability to traverse across the Iapetan suture zone is one of the main attractions of the region and so too is the karstic landscapes of the Carboniferous Limestone in the Burren region. Over the past twenty years the west of Ireland has been the location for field-based geology programmes for the US higher education sector i.e. Boston University (BU), Mass., (1997-2005), James Madison University (JMU), Va., (2006-present) and The College of William and Mary (CWM), Va., (2007-present). Classroom and field oriented activities and research collaborations have developed, during this time, between US staff and staff from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). The initial planning and scoping of the six week BU camp (now the JMU camp) involved close cooperation between staff from BU and NUIG. The course is conducted yearly at the beginning of each summer (May and June) and is a capstone field experience for US based upper-level earth science undergraduates. This trans-Atlantic cooperative approach to developing teaching methods and field exercises continues through the JMU Geology Field Course. Over the past twenty years, a fully integrated digital mapping and visualization component to the field course has been developed. Field exercises make full use of the west of Ireland’s geological diversity and are designed to engage the students in a range of independent investigative projects e.g. independent mapping of polydeformed Grampian terrane rocks and the hydrogeology of the Carboniferous karst limestone platforms. The CWM four-week summer school course, delivered by NUIG staff introduces the fundamentals of geology and ecology through a series of campus based lectures and practicals. In addition, fieldtrips use classic field examples and environments to explore the geology and landscapes of Connemara and the ecology of the intertidal zones of Galway Bay. This presentation will chart the history, from an NUIG geologist’s perspective, of these trans-Atlantic teaching collaborations using relevant images and documents set against the backdrop of the geology and landscapes of the west of Ireland.