GSA Connects 2022 meeting in Denver, Colorado

Paper No. 206-20
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM-6:00 PM


THOMPSON, Alexandria1, ABEL-ZURSTADT, Samantha2, BAKER, Anna E.3, BUTLER, Francesca4, SARDI, Elisabeth5, WASHBURN, Sidney5, MARSHALL, Anita6 and THATCHER, Sean7, (1)College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, (2)Department of Geological Sciences, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA 98926, (3)Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6010, (4)Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3FX, United Kingdom, (5)Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2120, (6)Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, (7)Engineering and Environmental Science, The City University of New York, College of Staten Island, 2800 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10314

Undergraduate geoscience programs often culminate with students attending a traditional geological field camp as their capstone experience. These are often described as “intensive” or “rites of passage”; students spend several weeks in a remote location where physical and mental “toughness” are expected. Students with disabilities may be excluded from these field camps as they often cannot accommodate many of these individuals in a way that allows them to fully participate and obtain similar experiences as their nondisabled peers. Barriers for disabled (and also many nondisabled) students may be physical, such as inaccessible buildings and field sites, or financial and time-related, such as employment commitments and caretaking responsibilities. Here, we provide feedback as students who participated in the pilot run of the GeoSPACE Field Program in northern Arizona (NSF Award 2023124), an accessible alternative to traditional field camps.

GeoSPACE offered a variety of built-in adjustments for students, which fell into four categories: financial, dietary, physical, and participation. Participation options were in-person or virtual, thereby including students who could not make it into the field. Online communication platforms allowed for a synchronous connection between in-person and virtual students. To ease the financial strain of attending a field camp, students were provided a stipend with food, travel, and lodging costs covered. Field sites with wheelchair access were selected to allow everyone the opportunity to partake in research. Rest days built into the schedule provided time to decompress and physically recuperate. Varied meal options were prepared for participants with restricted dietary needs.

Student survey responses indicate that these accommodations were highly beneficial both to individual participants and to the larger group. We hope that the long-standing exclusivity of field work will begin to change as accessible alternatives like GeoSPACE accomplish the goals of the traditional field camp without excluding disabled participants.

For more information on the GeoSPACE mission and our scientific results, search “GeoSPACE” in the conference abstracts.