Workshop Overview

Many faculty teaching at the introductory level use environmental themes and hazards to get their students excited about the geosciences. Whether in the form of a stand-alone Environmental Geology or Natural Hazards course or as environmental content integrated into other introductory courses, these concepts are an important part of the geoscience education for many students who will never take another course in the sciences.

This workshop will bring together educators from a wide variety of institutional settings and backgrounds with the common goal of sharing ideas about improving the pedagogy and environmental geology content of our introductory geoscience courses.

Workshop Goals

As a part of this workshop, participants will:

  • Share what works in their classrooms with each other. We will identify innovative teaching methods, approaches, and activities for teaching Environmental Geology and share ideas on how to teach in various contexts: large classes, courses with no lab component, courses in urban areas, etc.
  • Examine where and how environmental geology topics are taught in the geoscience curriculum from introductory courses for non-majors to "core" geoscience courses for majors. We will discuss and develop ideas for maximizing the impact of environmental geology topics to ultimately improve undergraduate students' experience with and knowledge of geoscience.
  • Consider the ways that Environmental Geology courses and topical materials can contribute to public science literacy, particularly how to make personal and societal decisions about the range of issues facing humanity and to live responsibly and sustainably on this planet.
  • Develop a list of best practices for integrating emerging environmental issues, recent natural disasters, and issues related to natural resources into course work and identifying how scientific data and research outcomes can inform public discourse on topical issues.
  • Develop strategies to reach under-represented groups and expand the diversity of students who enroll in our courses. We will consider strategies for improving the overall design of an Environmental Geology course to maximize its appeal and effectiveness.
  • Identify topics of high interest and need for future development as teaching modules and courses through the related InTeGrate project, through funding from the NSF/DUE TUES program, or through other local or national curricular initiatives.


Participants must arrive in Bozeman in time for the first workshop event at 5 pm on Saturday, June 2. (Arrive earlier if you plan to attend the optional field trips.) The workshop will be over on Wednesday evening, June 6, and participants should plan return travel on Thursday, June 7 (those who stay an extra day can attend optional local hikes).


By applying to the workshop, participants agree to do the following if accepted:

  • Serve on a review committee from April to June 2012, applying standardized review criteria to teaching activities in the On the Cutting Edge activity collection related to environmental geology. We anticipate that everyone will be asked to review ~5 activities using an on-line review form.
  • Submit additional teaching activities as needed that complement the existing collection, prior to the workshop. Our goal is to have a comprehensive, reviewed collection of teaching activities ready to showcase at the summer workshop.
  • Prepare in advance for workshop discussions via readings, writings, discussion or other activities developed by workshop leaders.
  • Participate fully in the entire workshop and attend all workshop sessions. Many participants will be invited to make presentations or serve as discussion or working group leaders at the workshop.
  • Post-workshop: continue to network with workshop participants, share workshop resources with colleagues across the geosciences, and participate in follow-on activities such as making presentations at theme sessions at professional society meetings.

Application and Selection Criteria

Applicants for this workshop must hold a faculty position at a two- or four-year college or university and have responsibility for teaching environmental geology topics either in an Environmental Geology course or distributed through other courses. The workshop is limited to 70 participants, and the final list of participants will be established with the goal of assembling a group representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties. For more information see our page on general information for Cutting Edge workshop participants.

Costs and Logistics

The workshop will be held at Montana State University (more info) located in Bozeman, Montana . Our National Science Foundation grant provides funding for most of the operational costs of this workshop. To be supported by these funds, a participant must be either a US citizen, a permanent resident, or in the employ of a US institution. If you don't meet these requirements and are interested in participating in this workshop at your own expense, please contact the workshop conveners. Costs of the workshop not covered by the grant are outlined below.

Workshop registration fee: $150

Travel, lodging. Participants or their home institutions must cover costs of lodging plus travel to and from the workshop. We will offer a low-cost option to stay in the dorms at MSU. Alternatively, participants may make their own lodging arrangements at a local motel, where we will hold a block of rooms. Rooming rates for this workshop have not been set yet, but in past workshops the MSU dorm option was ~$25/night single occupancy and the hotel option was ~$120 + tax per night. More information on the lodging options will be made available as soon as arrangements have been finalized.

Optional field trips: There will be a separate free for the pre and post optional field trips. That fee has not yet been determined, but will cover transportation and food.

We will be able to offer small stipends to participants from institutions unable to cover the costs of travel and participation in Cutting Edge workshops. The deadline for applying for one of these stipends is March 12, 2012.

For More Information

Questions? Contact Dave Mogk ( or Katryn Wiese (