Fieldwork, defined as extended learning or research experience outside the campus environment, lies at the core of geosciences. It can inspire student interest in the discipline, is a gatekeeping experience in many geoscience majors, and is a critical component for much of its research. Fieldwork, as one participant in this project put it, is “knowledge, inspiration, and adventure.” In collaboration with Co-PI’s in both the geosciences and social sciences around the country, FIELD is aimed at improving the design and leadership of field-based experiences in the geosciences toward inclusion of undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability status, sexuality).
As a Co-PI on the National Science Foundation-funded FIELD project, Posselt and her team are conducting ethnographic research of field-based experiences at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In summer 2017, this work included intensive participant observation of a longstanding five-week graduate-level field-based geosciences course, as well as a three-week field-based environmental studies course for undergraduates. These courses provide unique windows into the culture of teaching, learning, and research in the field, and reveal cultural dynamics of knowledge production and inclusion that will be used to inform the design of a leadership institute for geoscientists who facilitate field-based experiences.