Monday, May 23, 2011

Geology of the National Parks online course

Shamelessly self-promoting once again. This summer I'm teaching a fully-online course on the Geology of the National Parks that I'd like to advertise.

The course is available through the community college where I teach which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.  It's also listed with the SUNY Learning Network and can be taken from anywhere in the world where you have a reliable Internet connection. While you register with my college, you don't have to be a student there to take the class.

The course runs for six weeks from July 5 to August 15 this summer and is listed as ESC-114-S16 Geology of the National Parks - a course I developed a few years back specifically for the online environment. Here's a description:

Designed for the non-science major, this course provides an introduction to geology and the geological evolution of North America through a detailed examination of selected U.S. National Parks and Monuments. National Parks studied include the Grand Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Petrified Forest, Badlands, Mammoth Cave, Carlsbad Caverns, Acadia, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Hawaii Volcanoes, Yellowstone, and Death Valley among others. In addition to learning about the geology of North America’s National Parks, students will also gain an appreciation for the scenic beauty, natural resources, flora, and fauna preserved in these unique areas.

If you're a student at a SUNY school anywhere else in NY State, this course satisfies a Natural Science General Education Elective (you need at least one of those to graduate).  I typically have both science and non-science majors taking the course (there are no prerequisites).  The textbook I use is Geology Of National Parks by Harris, Tuttle, and Tuttle (Kendall Hunt, 2003).

I've personally visited many of the national parks and monuments around the U.S. including Acadia, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Rainier, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Canyonlands, Arches, Badlands, and others (I'll also be visiting Mammoth Cave in July). Taking this course will not only teach you about geology and the geologic history of North America, but greatly enhance your enjoyment of any national park you visit in the future since I like to discuss more than just geology - we'll also touch on history (including the Native Americans), flora, and fauna.

How can you find out more about these courses? Email me with any content questions (there's a link in the left sidebar of my blog). For questions about how to register for a SUNY Learning Network online courses, or what the tuition and fees will be (cheaper than four-year college or university tuition), contact the Registrar's Office at SUNY Ulster County Community College.

Why not take a science course that has a practical benefit - who doesn't want to someday visit one of the beautiful national parks we're so fortunate to have in this country?


  1. I am the geologist and paleontologist at Petrified Forest National Park. We are thrilled that you are including our park in your course. There is currently a lot of geological (and paleontological) research going on in the park so feel free to drop me a line ( if you have any questions.

  2. It's a great park, I really enjoyed my visit there (a number of years ago now). Thanks for the offer, I may take you up on it when I go through my notes next month before the course starts!

  3. interested in your course but find the information about cost, etc.
    hard to locate on your college web site. I am a science graduate from 50+ years ago and am just interested in doing your course for information, not for credit.

    1. Easiest thing to do is to call our Registrar's Office (845-687-5075). ESC114 Geology of the National Parks will be offered online in Summer Session II for 6 weeks in July/August 2012.

  4. Have been looking for a class like this for some time...any chance that you'll be offering it again, Summer 2013?

  5. It will be offered Summer 2013 (July 5 - August 15).