Alumni Donations In Action

The newly revised Physical Geography Field School

A key educational goal for the field school has always been teaching students how to practice resilience in the face of challenging conditions. In the past this has included reworking plans that have been derailed by inclement weather, trucks stuck in the mud, or rivers running in flood stage. In 2020/2021, this resilience involved a complete reworking of the field school format to accommodate the challenges of the pandemic.

Initially, at the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, we were preparing to run as normal, and had our field sites booked, equipment prepped and activities planned. The students participated in constructing field equipment they would use to measure turbidity levels and infiltration rates, and we ran several preliminary planning exercises. Anticipation was high, but the province-wide shift to online learning meant the rapid adjustment of plans did not allow us to head out into the field. Our focus shifted towards making a field-school for Spring 2021 possible for students.

The revised field-school now includes a combination of virtual and in-person field exercises on campus and on nearby parkland. Students meet in small groups and are only in contact once every 2 weeks. This format, though different, still allows us to work towards our core educational goals. Generous support from alumni donors allowed us to equip students with their own individual packages of field gear that they would keep for the entire semester. In the event face-to-face meetings were not possible, this would allow students to run their own replacement exercises with their own field gear, something that has not been possible in the past. The field school continues to demonstrate resilience in planning and we are grateful for the alumni who continue to support this valuable and transformative practical application of theory for the students.