Our group is currently working on developing an Icelandic Field Studies program. This would be a regularly offered set of courses and field work. This is a draft description of the program, we will be field-testing it during the summer of 2016, submitting curriculum and funding proposals in the fall, and with luck the first iteration of it may take place beginning in 2017; we’ll see.

Icelandic field studies is a multidisciplinary science based on-campus and off-campus program designed for first-year, sophomore, and junior students to immerse themselves in a multifaceted exploration of the geology, biology, geography, environment, and culture of one of the most unique places on our planet.

The program starts with an application period in January/February, in-time for students to register for an on-campus May term course. During June the group will travel to Iceland for approximately 20 days of fieldwork in Iceland. Upon returning to campus in the fall students will take a one credit course to complete the reflection and dissemination components.

The principle curricular characteristics of the program are:

  • Multidisciplinary field science – biology (field, lab, and computational), chemistry, geology, computer science (hardware and software), archaeology, and environmental science. Engage students and faculty leaders from a broad range of disciplines.
  • Servant leadership development – a substantial amount of the leadership would be provided by students, working in conjunction with the faculty leaders, ala the current Wilderness Program approach.
  • Notion of place – focusing on Iceland, considering it from natural, cultural, and historical perspectives. Ties to local educational and scientific entities.
  • Sustainability – Participants would plant trees back-campus in the spring before their trip equal to the carbon load generated by that year’s trip. Study Iceland’s broadly sustainable energy economy.
  • Long-term view – Each year, participants would measure the extent of a specific part of a glacier, building a data set that, over a period of years, will document one tangible aspect of climate change.
  • Science education and outreach – Building on the science projects, participants would develop materials and datasets for use in classes on-campus and by the Data Science Applied Group.

The basic structure is:

  • 3 credit on-campus May Term course (preparation)
  • 3 credit off-campus in Iceland (20 days in the field)
  • 1 credit on-campus Fall semester course (reflection and dissemination)