Interdisciplinary Field Program - exploring our cultural diversity

students standing near ancient burial site

San Juan River.jpg

The UGA Honors Summer Interdisciplinary Field Program (IFP) operated out of the department of geology is now in its 29th year. This summer’s group of 19 students come from a broad array of majors including geology, anthropology, ecology, engineering, as well as the arts and business. They are experiencing the challenges of outdoor living in temperatures that range from freezing to 115° and seeing more cultural diversity than many study abroad programs. By the end of this summer they will have covered over 10,000 miles of North American by-ways, dirt roads included. 

Students in the program have the opportunity to meet with experts representing the Bureau of Land Management, Grand Canyon Trust, Native American tribes, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Science Foundation-funded researchers to gain varied perspectives on the challenges in energy, environment, and culture that face society today. U.S. Bureau of Land Management Soil Scientist and UGA alumnus Ken Bradshaw talked with students about land use issues in the Grand Staircase National monument. The result of exchanges like these is a unique experience and perspective appropriate to their training across a variety of fields - from science to politics and conservation. UGA students learn to be leaders with endless career possibilites. 

“IFP students see more landscape and cultural diversity than most people do in a lifetime,” said Paul Schroeder, professor of clay mineralogy in the department of geology and IFP director. "Interacting with people from all sides of stake holding give the students a balanced perspective to discuss pros and cons of issues."

Visit to learn more about IFP activities and track student's real time GPS location as they experience an opportunity of a lifetime. Our thanks to Dr. Schroeder for the information and photos.

Teaser Image: Students gathered at a Kiva (ancient Native American dwelling) at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, listening to noted author and photographer David Grant Noble. In 2003, Noble received the Victor Stoner Award from the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society for his "outstanding efforts to bring historical and archaeological awareness of the Southwest to the general public."

Image: Panorama of the “goose necks” formed by the San Juan river as it erodes into the Colorado Plateau. The layers record millions of years of geologic history that inform students about how Earth’s climate has changed through time.