Workshop Overview

Format and goals

nautilus fossil
  • Plenary sessions: Participants will discuss general issues such as
    • What should students be able to do after having taken an undergraduate paleontology course, and does the answer depend on the perspective (e.g., graduate school, government agency, consulting industry)?
    • How can we best include the important and growing roles of isotope (bio)geochemistry, molecular paleobiology, and large-scale databases in understanding paleontologic processes?
    • How can we best integrate paleontology concepts into courses in the core geoscience curriculum, especially in departments where paleontology is not taught as a required course?
    • What can we do about department attitudes toward paleontology?
    • How do we give students experiences that emphasize the relevance of paleontology to modern cross-disciplinary science?
  • Dealing effectively with issues in teaching paleontology: How do we help students visualize important concepts in paleontology? How do we cope effectively with the range of quantitative abilities among students, especially when both undergraduate and graduate students are involved in a course? What about the expectations of students and their varied preparation in geology and/or biology? What are the most effective ways to teach evolution?
  • Digital resources for teaching paleontology: How can we effectively use online databases (e.g., PBDB) as educational tools? What are the best ways to integrate virtual field trips and online museum collections into a paleontology course? How can student-produced "new media" (e.g., streaming videos, blogs) enhance student learning?
  • Assignment/activities sessions: All participants will submit at least two activities or assignments for actively engaging students in the classroom or for providing effective and innovative lab or field experiences. These activities will be shared with other participants either as posters or short oral presentations during the workshop and on the Cutting Edge web site.
  • Teaching materials collection: All participants will contribute to development of the collection Resources for Teaching Paleontology similar to the collections Resources for Teaching Petrology, Resources for Teaching Structural Geology, Resources for Teaching Hydrogeology, Resources for Teaching Sedimentary Geology, Resources for Teaching Geophysics, and Resources for Teaching Geomorphology. Workshop attendees will consider what makes effective activities and assignments and will review and make suggestions for improving submitted materials.
  • Email List: A email list for workshop participants will promote discussion before and after the workshop.


Velociraptor skull
The first workshop event will take place at 7 pm on Thursday, July 30, and the last at dinner on Monday, August 3. Participants must attend all sessions. An optional field trip will take place on Tuesday, August 4.

Eligibility and application instructions

Applicants for this workshop must hold a faculty position at a two- or four-year college or university and have responsibility for teaching courses in undergraduate paleontology or courses with a significant paleontological component that are taught for majors above the intro level. We welcome applications from all academic ranks. 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. Application must be made on line by February 6, 2009, and successful applicants will be notified by February 20, 2009.


Workshop costs. The workshop fee of $250 covers meals and double-occupancy rooms for the workshop. Our National Science Foundation grant provides funding for the remainder of the operational costs of the 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.

chesapecten fossil

Travel. All participants or their home institutions must provide transportation to and from the workshop. The workshop will be held at Cornell University and the Paleontological Research Institute. Both are located in Ithaca, NY, about 55 miles south of Syracuse International Airport. Participants must make their own way to Ithaca in time for the first workshop event at 7 pm on Thursday, July 30. The workshop will be over on Monday evening, August 3, and participants will return home on Tuesday, August 4. Those who wish to go on the optional field trip on August 4 can return home on Wednesday, August 5.

We will be able to offer small travel stipends to participants from institutions unable to cover travel costs. The deadline for applying for one of these stipends is March 2, 2009.


Workshop sessions will take place at Cornell University and the Paleontological Research Institute, and participants will live in the dorms on the Cornell campus. The registration fee covers the cost of meals and a double-occupancy room. We will offer the opportunity to choose a single room at a single supplement fee.

Further Information

Contact Barbara Tewksbury (

New TTE Logo Small

Paleontology resources from across Teach the Earth »

Key Resources:

Join the Community:

or Search