GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 27-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


FOX, Lydia K., Dept. of Geological & Environmental Sciences, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95211-0110

Incorporating the emerging subfield of GeoHealth into the curriculum helps prepare students to be globally engaged citizens. It can also help to recruit students who might otherwise major in traditional pre-health disciplines. In addition, it supports an increased environmental emphasis for departments that may offer majors in environmental science as well as geology. These topics also help students connect geologic concepts to their own lives. Incorporating GeoHealth topics also provides opportunities to utilize interdisciplinary approaches. In small departments, however, it can be difficult to offer a separate GeoHealth/Medical Geology course due to limitations of staffing or impacted student course loads. The topics can, however, be incorporated into existing courses in a meaningful way. This presentation will report preliminary results of integrating these topics into existing courses. At the introductory level, focusing on geohazards and climate change is an easy and exciting way to introduce the connections between geology and human health. At the upper division, it can be integrated into existing courses such as geochemistry and mineralogy/earth materials. In geochemistry, health-related topics can be addressed through problem solving related to standard geochemical concepts. For example, the mobilization of arsenic in groundwater in Bangladesh can be incorporated into the coverage of redox reactions, and the persistence of chrysotile in the lungs can be incorporated into the coverage of solubility reactions. In addition, students can read, summarize, and report on current journal articles that connect GeoHealth topics to geochemical concepts covered in the course. In mineralogy/earth materials courses, health-related info, such as exposure pathways and toxicology can be incorporated throughout the coverage of minerals and rock assemblages. In addition, students can give presentations on an earth material that incorporates research into environmental and health impacts.