Southeastern Section - 68th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 21-5
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


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

The geoscience major at the University of Tennessee at Martin includes a geology concentration where instructors (n=5) teach a load heavy with service courses (on campus, at regional centers, and online), while servicing a low number of majors (n<30). The geology curriculum underwent minor updates in 2006, but for over 30 years, it focused on teaching a set of required core courses offered on a 4-semester rotation. This was a major impediment to students wanting to change their major and graduate in under 5 years due to timing of core courses and multiple prerequisite bottlenecks.

Starting Fall 2019, significant geology curriculum changes will be in place. The general education courses have been diversified from 2 geology to 4 geoscience courses with multiple pathways for completing the lab science sequence. For majors, the geology curriculum has pivoted away from an exhaustive list of 11 required geology courses (38 credit hours) and 7 hours of electives to instead focus on 4 areas of competency: methods, a reduced geology core, geology electives, and experiential geoscience. The two method courses focus on written and oral communication, scientific literacy, and ethics, as well as field description of rocks, field trips, and geofieldalytics (3 hours). Student pick 4 classic courses such as mineralogy, ig/met petrology, sed/strat, hydrogeology, structural geology, and paleontology (16 hours). Electives broaden to include oceanography, economic geology, geomorphology, soils, tectonics, and special topics (8 hours). Experiential geoscience (6 hours) include research, seminar, travel-study, internships, GIS, and other field- and project-based courses. The majority of new majors are “immigrants”, so the geology curriculum overhaul was focused on reducing migration impediments by reducing the number of required core courses, offering more elective credits, opening the program to a limited number of non-geological courses, and promoting experiential coursework. The revised curriculum will allowed students to adjust their degree plans to suit their personal interests, post-graduate career and educational goals.