Environmental challenges of the 21st century include climate change, loss of biodiversity, and declining water quality, to name a few. For today’s students to work towards solutions, they need outdoor educational experiences in addition to traditional classroom instruction. Field courses provide students with essential hands-on and immersive experiences with nature. Valuable field courses include those focused on organisms—such as plants, birds, fish, or fungi—and on topics—such as aquatic ecology, prairie ecology, or soil science.
To make these transformative experiences available to a greater number of KU students, three KU units are working together: the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research, and the Environmental Studies Program. Our goal is to increase access to KU field courses, and to develop courses that attract and retain students from diverse backgrounds. All courses will have a rigorous scientific basis, and we encourage development of creative courses that also draw from disciplines across the university. Our priority is to utilize the KU Field Station because of its proximity to campus, diverse terrestrial and aquatic environments, and well-designed laboratory and greenhouse facilities.
With the help from a generous matching gift donor, we seek funds for the supplies and equipment necessary for field courses. Donations will also support instructional and transportation costs. Graduate student involvement in summer short course development will help these graduate students gain field and teaching experiences, as well as a source of summer income, extending the benefits of these courses to both undergraduate and graduate students at KU.
Many professionals trace their love and enthusiasm for science to engaging, hands-on field course experiences, yet these are disappearing from university curricula. KU has the scientists, environments, and facilities to make these life-changing experiences available to our students.