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The GEOSPACE Project: Boldly Going Where Traditional Geoscience Field Courses Often Don’t

Presentation #410.06 in the session “Education and Community Engagement”. Cross-listed as presentation #504.03.

Published onOct 03, 2021
The GEOSPACE Project: Boldly Going Where Traditional Geoscience Field Courses Often Don’t

GEOscientists Promoting Accessible Collaborative Experiences — the GEOSPACE project — is a multi-year initiative to develop a fully accessible field module for upper level undergraduates. Field-based learning remains a core requirement of geology-focused planetary science programs, but traditional field courses can present a major barrier for disabled students. Excluding these students reduces the diversity of our programs and future workforce, and can have a negative impact on learning and feelings of belonging in the community. The lack of accessible field courses also perpetuates the mistaken perception that disabled people cannot have meaningful geoscience careers, likely a contributing factor in underrepresentation within the community [1].

Our 2 week field course, to be held in northern Arizona, will cover the basics of planetary analog studies, including remote sensing, field data collection, and geophysical surveys; culminating in field projects designed and executed by collaborative teams of students. The GEOSPACE Project aims to address a barrier that impacts many (not just those with disabilities) and to create an environment where the support and mentoring of geoscience students is grounded in both expertise and personal experience.

The project is in its first year, focusing on developing field exercises built on the principles of inclusive communities of learning in the field [2]. Our initial scouting trip focused on evaluating the accessibility of potential field sites, including many from the well-known planetary geology “Holey Tour” [3]. Activities developed over the coming year will be deployed during our pilot season (May 2022), and then refined for the next field season when the full 2 week course module will first be offered as a course for credit. Resources developed during the project will be made publically available so others can use them as a template for developing their own accessible field-based experiences.

We are actively recruiting interested students, particularly those with limited opportunities to engage in field-based learning. Students from the pilot season will be invited to act as peer mentors for the following year. We invite you to follow us for updates and for students to apply: @GeospaceUF on Twitter and Facebook and our website at

[1] Piatek et al., 2021. BAAS 53. doi:10.3847/25c2cfeb.d4e2da17.

[2] Atchison, Marshall, & Collins, 2019. J. Geosci. Ed. 67:472-486. doi:10.1080/10899995.2019.1600962.

[3] Greeley, 2011. GSA Special Paper 483: 377-391. doi: 10.1130/2011.2483(23).

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