Teaching Environmental Geology

The study of Environmental Geology encompasses geologic hazards, natural resources, topical issues of concern to society (such as climate change), and provides sound advice about how humanity can live responsibly and sustainably on Earth. This web collection will help undergraduate faculty and students apply new approaches to teaching and learning environmental geology, including use of tested pedagogical methods and strategies and use of emerging scientific advances (e.g. use of models, datasets and visualizations including Google Earth). By integrating these emerging techniques into the classroom, students will be able to benefit from new developments in this exciting field.

Course Design & Pedagogy | Resource Collections | Special Topics | Workshops & Events | Get Involved

Designing an Effective Environmental Geology Course

1. Set goals

Learn more about setting effective course goals in the Course Design Tutorial. You can also explore course goals from others' Environmental Geology courses using the syllabi available in the course collection.

2. Consider assessment options

Aligning your assessment strategies with the goals of your course is an essential part of the design process. You can learn more about assessment in the section about Assessing Student Learning in the Course Design tutorial and through our module on Observing and Assessing Student Learning.

3. Select pedagogies and specific teaching activities

The pedagogic techniques highlighted below can provide inspiration as you consider various approaches that will help you achieve your course goals. The resource collections are organized to provide a rich set of materials to draw from in constructing the specific set of learning experiences you want for your students. Finally, explore the more in-depth information and ideas available in special topics.

Selected Pedagogical Approaches

Environmental Geology courses offer opportunities to develop one or more key skills and habits of mind that professional geoscientists use. These skills, while having obvious applications in geoscience, are also transferable to many other professions, and generally foster critical thinking skills that are essential to success in many careers. In addition to those listed below, a selection of applicable pedagogies can be found in the Teaching Methods area.

Petrology 2003 field trip

    • Environmental Geology in the Field: A number of workshop presenters and participants have shared their expertise in teaching with and through field work. Here, you can benefit from their experiences and learn from their presentations and teaching activities.

    Resource Collections

    Once you've identified the core learning goals for your course, you can use them to focus your search for relevant materials in our resource collections. The materials listed below reflect the contributions of faculty members from across the country.

    • Course descriptions including course learning goals, syllabi, and supporting information.
    • Teaching activities including classroom activities, lab exercises, problem sets, and more. Once the review process has run its course, we'll be highlighting a smaller collection of exemplary activities.
    • Visualization collections: These pages of visualizations, videos, and images are a rich source of materials for use in the classroom.
    • Selected readings recommended for use in teaching Environmental Geology. The collection includes a listing of textbooks recommended by participants in the June 2012 Workshop.
    • Additional resources: Useful websites and resources recommended by faculty who teach environmental geology.

    Special Topics

    • Limits to Growth: The 2012 workshop included a panel session discussion of the book Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update by Donella Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows (2004). The book draws on 30+ years of research into overshooting the carrying capacity of Earth and the associated risks for global ecological collapse. This page present resources about the book, other related works by the authors, and documentation of and outcomes from the workshop session.

    Workshops and Events

    • Hazards Webinar Series: This series of webinars addressed some of the many issues surrounding hazards and teaching about hazards in the geosciences. The 4 webinars in the series addressed climate change risks, natural hazards policy and mitigation, volcanic hazards, and earthquake preparedness education and outreach resources.
    • Climate and Energy Webinar Series: The issues of climate and energy are evolving quickly and are constantly in the news, which is why our students find them to be relevant and interesting. On the other hand, keeping ourselves up to date becomes challenging. This monthly series in 2011 explored the science of energy and climate, along with promising teaching approaches for these topics.
    • 2012 Workshop - Teaching Environmental Geology: This workshop was held June 3-7, 2012 at the Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. This workshop brought together instructors of Environmental Geology to explore ways to effectively teach this topic in undergraduate Earth science courses. Participants reviewed a collection of teaching activities, contributed insights on teaching methodology, and developed classroom resources that take advantage of cutting edge technology. See the workshop program to view presentations and materials.

    Get Involved

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