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Honors Program


Hot Link to Geoscience Through American Studies

One third of my teaching load and some of my committee responsibilities are to the Honors Program, now experiencing dramatic growth as part of the new academic plan. My involvement with the program began in 2003 when I was nominated by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean to be a candidate for its directorship. Though the search was terminated pending a mandated external review, the investigations and interviews I conducted during the search process, and the report that summarized my observations, helped me appreciate how vital that program was for the whole university, and how much room there was for improvement.  Since that experience, I have committed whatever time I have available to the program, including:

  • Honors Thesis advisor
  • Honors Advisor for the undergraduate Geoscience program.
  • Serving on task forces, planning committees, and panel reviews, notably those involved with developing the Honors Core Curriculum.
  • Creating the first honors-only course (not an honors version of an existing course) designed to meet general education requirements (SCI 1051– Geoscience Through American Studies).
  • Developing and co-teaching the pioneering course for the Honors Core Curriculum, AMST 1070 - Honors Core: The American Landscape.
  • Creating and teching three different versions of INTD 1784-Freshman Honors Seminar, emphasizing my changing research interests.
  • Speaking at Honors Functions.
  • Serving as Honors Faculty Member of the Year in 2010.
  • Attending ad hoc functions associated with student support and recruitment.

In rotation, I teach one full course per year for the program:

AMST 1070 – Honors Core: The American Landscape.  Taught in odd-year fall semesters, this course in the past focused on Walden Pond and New England, with special attention given to how that place and the book by that name influenced American culture. The design of the course involves my participation in a large-group lecture with two other professors, and the running of my own section of students.  Discussion and writing assignments are emphasized.  In the future, Walden will remain an important part of the course, but the emphasis will shift pending consensus of the instructors.

SCI 1051– Geoscience Through American Studies.  Taught in even-year fall semesters, This discussion-based course taps into the student's previous exposure to American history and literature, then leverages that exposure to help them understand geoscience.  This course covers the same material as introductory geology, and meets the same requirements but does so using the Norton Anthology of Nature Writing as a supplemental text.   A final project is required. 


PHOTO BANNER: False color infared aerial photo of the Malaspina Glacier on the Alaskan coastal plain, a good surrogate for lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (credit NASA). Pedestrian pathways cross-cut campus on ground that is unusually level for southern New England, in this case because campus sits above an uplifted Neogene erosion surface. Pleistocene archaeological site being excavated near Delta, Alaska in my favorite material, loess, windblown glacial dust. Close-up of quarried granite from a building in New London, CT contains biotite, quartz and pink orthoclase (every geology professor needs at least one photo of a rock on their website).