Montana Western professor opts outside for geology course

First-year Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Spruce Schoenemann recently spent eight of 18 block days in the field with his Geology of the American West class.

First-year Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Spruce Schoenemann recently spent eight of 18 block days in the field with his Geology of the American West class.

Students experienced class subject matter by traveling to areas including the university’s Birch Creek Outdoor Center in the Pioneer Mountains, Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument and geologic locations throughout Beaverhead County.   

Under Montana Western’s block scheduling program called Experience One (X1), students attend eight blocks, or classes, throughout the school year, receiving the same amount of credit as under traditional semesters. The innovative program emphasizes authentic, real-world learning experiences. 

“It was great spending so much time out in the field obtaining experience I will be able to use after I graduate and begin my career,” junior Sharon Williams said.

Williams is currently pursuing an environmental sciences degree with an emphasis in geology. She plans to later obtain a Master of Science in cartography and geographic information system (GIS) and begin working in GIS.

“By the end of the 18-day class, my geology students are able to assess the landscape around the intermountain west, interpret the geologic and surficial processes at work, and predict how the landscape may evolve in the future,” Schoenemann said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the fieldwork exposure and the immersive nature of classes at UMW.”

Schoenemann earned his Ph.D. in Isotope Geochemistry and Climatology from the University of Washington.

— Montana Western —

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