Teach the Earth > Teaching Methods > Campus-Based Learning
This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Created by Suzanne Savanick, Macalester College

Carleton College, photo by Tom Roster
"As commonly practiced, education has little to do with its specific setting or locality. The typical campus is mostly regarded as a place where learning occurs but is, itself, believed to be the source of no useful learning. It is intended, rather, to be convenient, efficient, or aesthetically pleasing, but not instructional. It neither requires nor facilitates competence or mindfulness. By that standard, the same education could happen as well in California or in Kazakhstan, or on Mars, for that matter." (Orr 1993)
Carleton College

Every campus has a geoscience context.

All campuses have links to climate through rainfall landing on the campus grounds. All campuses have links to surface water as water lands on impervious buildings and parking lots. People travel to the campus by automobile and bus, which add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.


Education at most institutions does not link to the local context, yet the actual buildings and grounds can be studied, analyzed and even manipulated for research and education.


What is campus-based learning?

Campus-based learning uses the campus buildings and grounds as teaching tools. Campus-based learning can be used in all of the parts of the geoscience umbrella, from the most specific geology class to the broadest introductory environmental studies class. Learn more about campus-based learning in the geosciences

Why use campus-based learning?

Campus-based projects can provide hands-on, real-world projects that link to service-learning and civic engagement programs. Campus-based learning can also be accomplished even without a field trip budget or transportation. Learn more about why campus-based learning is effective

How to use campus-based learning?

For specific tips on how to get started, find resources and people, contribute back to the community and keep campus research records, Learn more about how to use campus-based learning

Examples of campus-based learning

See specific examples of how to incorporate campus-based learning in to geoscience courses.


You can also check out Historical Geology by Mike Phillips and Tait Chirinje's Brownfields or Superfund Case Study activities, which use a campus-based learning approach.

References on campus-based learning

Find useful references on campus-based learning.

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