Time in the Field
From Iceland to Inchnadamph, course-related fieldwork is a valuable and integral part of every GeoSciences degree. We discover how alumni donations are ensuring that more students can take this invaluable opportunity without worrying about the costs.
If you ask any Geography, Geology or other GeoSciences graduate what their favourite course memory is, you will probably receive this answer: the fieldtrips spent applying classroom knowledge to real life situations, in a different environment – while making friends for life.
Fieldwork is an integral part of studying GeoSciences, whatever the discipline. However, despite the University’s School of GeoSciences working hard to offer the highest quality field courses at the lowest possible cost, some students have still been struggling to fully finance these educational trips. To assist them, the University decided to establish a Geosciences Undergraduate Fieldwork Fund in 2013.
“As a School, we feel strongly that no student should have to struggle financially to afford these experiences,” says Professor Sandy Tudhope, the Head of School. “We really wanted our alumni to get behind the initiative and ensure that all of our current and future students continue to get the crucial skills and experiences that field trips can provide.”
Since then, 235 alumni spanning graduation years 1946 to 2015 have donated generously to support today’s students through fieldwork bursaries. To date over 200 students have benefitted from this wonderful support, taking them to destinations ranging from Snowdonia to South Africa.
“The School is delighted with the enthusiasm our alumni have shown towards the Fund,” says Professor Tudhope, a driving force behind the initiative who took part in a charity walk over burning embers to raise funds for the cause. “Spending time in the field is such a vital part of a GeoSciences degree, and our graduates obviously recognise this. During these trips, our students have an opportunity to learn practical skills, explore new places and find out about the world first-hand. It is also an opportunity to share memorable experiences with fellow students, and for making friendships that last a lifetime.”
And it’s not only the students who benefit; all of our disciplines are extremely relevant to addressing some of our world’s greatest challenges. From understanding the geology of active volcanic areas to observing the effects of climate change on tropical coral reefs, from measuring receding glaciers to studying the manifestations of poverty, inequality and social injustice in an urban setting – all of these mean that our students will be even better equipped to help address many of our planet’s most pressing issues.
Two students who have benefitted from alumni donations are Luke Green and Jessica Kibble, both of whom study Geography and travelled to Cape Town for their third-year field trip.
“The field trip to Cape Town was a truly remarkable experience,” says Luke. “It was a fantastic opportunity to bring to life many of the important themes we have discussed in lectures and tutorials, and it was joyful to be surrounded by such inspirational and enthusiastic teachers and fellow students.”
Jessica is equally enthusiastic and credits the trip with expanding her cultural awareness and developing her skills as a team worker.
“I know it’s a cliché but it really was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she says. “The experience was eye-opening, thought provoking and, at times, deeply moving and emotional. I have learned so much about South African culture and history, especially apartheid, and the trip was a chance for me and my peers to work in groups. Therefore, the trip facilitated essential teamwork as well as independent learning.”
Luke also highlights the importance of the support of the Fund:
“Receiving this support means that I can focus on embracing my studies, and undertake vital fieldwork, without worrying about the financial implications. And other than being a wonderful educational opportunity, it has been a truly enlightening experience that has impressed upon me a desire to learn more about the enormous challenges facing the contemporary world.”