Geology at Bucknell
We believe that several interrelated aspects enhance the education of young geoscientists. They should receive a solid foundation in basic geological science, but also be enriched beyond that foundation in a flexible curriculum tuned to the current state of the geoscience profession. Their training should involve classroom theory and fact, but they should also have "hands-on" experiences in the laboratory and the field so that they develop the ability to accomplish successfully the types of projects characteristic of the profession. With more and more independent experience in solving problems of Earth's nature and history, students can develop sound professional judgment and personal self-confidence. They demonstrate that judgment and confidence in completing independent research projects and in communicating, clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing, the results of that research.
Faculty and Staff
All members of the department faculty are active in their research specialties and publish in important journals and books, yet all are committed to undergraduate education. This experience enables us to plan and supervise student research, to obtain funding to carry out some of that research, and to help students carry this research to the stage where it is presented at professional geological meetings and, at times, in joint publications with faculty. With no graduate students, all courses are fully taught by faculty, with behind the scenes assistance from Brad Jordan, our Director of Laboratories.
In the fifty year history of the department, approximately two-thirds of our majors have gone on to graduate school to receive a Masters or a Ph.D. degree. It is not uncommon in the last few years for students to go on after graduation to jobs in environmental geoscience before deciding to enter graduate school. We keep in close touch with our geology alumni through our department newsletter, asking for and receiving suggestions on our educational program.
The Geology Department has graduated over 200 majors, who are
taking many different career paths, as seen in the chart above.
Our location in central Pennsylvania might be our most important educational asset. Geology students and research scientists from around the world come to this area to study the record of development of the Appalachian Mountain System and the pattern of genesis of the classic Valley and Ridge landscape. This relatively unspoiled part of the country provides unparalleled opportunities for environmental geological studies; an example of this is Montandon Wetland, less than a mile from campus across the Susquehanna River. We take advantage of such superb opportunities for field investigations at all levels in our educational program. Introductory courses and courses for majors have many field trips; individual and group field-based projects are incorporated into most of our courses; and many student independent research opportunities exist within an hour of campus. An important byproduct of involving our majors in all these field experiences is that they form close personal relationships and develop a sense of community.
The geology program at Bucknell is strengthened by the numerous forms of interaction with faculty and students from other departments and programs. Our students have an advantage over many other undergraduate institutions in being able to take Civil Engineering courses such as environmental engineering, environmental geotechnology, and hazardous waste management. Two of the four majors in geology form the component parts of the Environmental Studies Program. Students also elect courses in biology, including population and community biology and conservation biology. Courses related to the environment are available in many departments; these include: Economics 222 - Environmental Economics; Geography 208 - Resource Management; Management 317 - Crisis Management; Religion 226 - Environmental Ethics; and Philosophy 218 - Ecology, Nature, and the Future.
Another resource recently added to our community is the Bucknell University Environmental Center (BUEC). The center supports faculty, staff and students dedicated to environmental and nature-related service at many levels through a variety of programs, projects, workshops and seminars. The solar panel array shown below is a result of the Center's participation in the Solar Scholars Program. This particular array provides energy to a student housing unit. Bucknell's main campus can be seen in the background.