GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 74-8
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM


DUNAGAN, Stan P., Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources, The University of Tennessee at Martin, 256 Brehm Hall, Martin, TN 38238

Student majors may be classified as natives, immigrants, and refugees based on academic provenance (Houlton, 2011). “Natives” matriculate into an academic program as first-year students (i.e., freshmen). “Immigrants” shift from one academic program to another (i.e., the traditional change of major route). “Refugees” leave one academic program and fall into another program as a means of escape (i.e., more timely graduation). Understanding the academic provenance of past and current majors should be one of the first steps faculty take when considering future curriculum revisions.

At the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM), students interested in matriculating to the geoscience program historically have been academic “immigrants” wanting to change majors or add geoscience as a dual major/secondary degree option. For the geology program, the most significant impediment to academic immigration was a static curriculum that had changed little over the previous 25 years. Of the 45 credit hours required for a geology concentration in the 2018-2019 university catalog, 2/3 of the courses were taught on a 2-year rotation (best case scenario) or on an as needed basis. The geoscience faculty (n=8) recently revised the geography, geology, and meteorology concentrations in the geoscience major at UTM. The 2019-2020 geology curriculum incorporates new method courses, significantly revised core requirements, enhanced elective options, and a required experiential component. The curricular changes should help attract new “natives” and “immigrants” to the program as well as providing an academic pathway for “refugees” all of which serve to promote the mission of the university.