Initial Publication Date: August 7, 2019

Program/Department Development

Goals for change at the program/department level

  1. Increase geology presence on campus
  2. Increase geoscience participation
  3. Increase communication of geology faculty
  4. Develop options for OER resources


Goals 1 & 2

The geology department hosted a table at the annual, campus-wide, Major Madness event for the first time last year. We continued this practice this year and intend to become regular fixtures, representing geology and enticing students with cool rock samples and a bit of dilute hydrochloric acid.

We have established regular contact with the office of career services. This contact has allowed us to better understand the class selection process that students face when arriving at NOVA. It has also provided us with the opportunity to better inform college counselors about what geology is and what career paths may be available to geology students in the future.

For goal 4, Callan has applied (and received) a grant to write an OER Historical Geology textbook (in conjunction with a Change Agent from another Virginia school, Karen Layou). We are coordinating the hosting of this new text with an extant Physical Geology OER text written by colleagues at Salt Lake Community College.

Future work:

Goals 1 & 2: Partner with campus student groups and give talks/plan events that cater to the student groups' interests. On the Manassas Campus, Caitlin has reached out to the Green Club to run a seminar on Earth's Carbon Budget and to the Criminal Justice Club to discuss the use of Diatoms in Forensic Sciences.

Goals 1-3: We are organizing a monthly Geology seminar series to encourage student participation and faculty communication. Our hope is that these events will provide a catalyst for students to establish a Geology Club on campus.

Goal 3: Make sure that current faculty are informed when new faculty arrive at NOVA: provide new faculty with necessary information about lab space, sample storage, etc.

We also want to reach out to adjunct faculty, specifically. Having a team with a mix of adjunct and fulltime faculty has provided us with insight into many of the challenges adjunct faculty face. By planning more faculty events and opening lines of communication we hope to build a more functional sense of community between the NOVA campuses.

Write the OER text; pilot test it in both NOVA classrooms and other institutions that teach Historical Geology, revise with pilot testers' feedback, then promote its use among faculty as a way of removing cost-barriers from geology course enrollment.


Outcomes for goals 1 & 2 are difficult to evaluate this early in our work. For goal 3, our team has certainly established regular contact which is a start, but we still have a lot of work to do with geology faculty wide.