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Department of Geosciences
Fort Hays State University
600 Park Street
Tomanek Hall 233
Phone: 785-628-5389

P. Grady Dixon, Chair
(785) 628-5389
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Department of Geosciences Hands-On Learning

The Department of Geosciences offers many hands-on and other experiential learning opportunities as well as unique courses targeted to specific topics and continuing education. We believe the best place to learn about the many aspects of geology and geography is in the field! Many of our courses involve field-based and applied learning experiences. Additionally, students majoring in Geosciences at FHSU will have opportunities to participate in internships, independent research, and conferences to build professional experience.


Facilities, Equipment & Special Projects

To find out more about our classrooms, labs, and specialty equipment and software please visit us. 

Unique Courses and Experiences

The Department of Geosciences offers a variety of field based courses designed to emerse students in real-world field work, gain valuable skills, and experience the world.

Field Camp - Field Camp is an integrative geosciences capstone course involving a broad range of applied field techniques and procedures. Students will not only be evaluated in the field on traditional field methods such as measuring and describing stratigraphic sections, correlating stratigraphic sections, interpretation of ancient depositional environments, making geologic maps, mapping structural features, they will also complete projects on applied environmental geophysics using MagMapper, Surfer, and Grapher computer modeling, GPS, and ArcView GIS. 

Field Trips - Each semester, including summer, the Department offers several exciting field trips and experiences out-side of the classroom setting.

Department offerings of field trips may include:

  • GSCI 355 Field Trips in Geology which may study any of the following topics: Lake Wilson, Ellis County, Gove County Chalk Beds, Central & NE Kansas, SE Kansas, Colorado Front Range, NE New Mexico, SE Colorado, Hays Water Issues, Geology of Wine, Geology of Beer, Fossils on campus, Fossils of KS, Fossils in the Museum, and other unique geologic areas.
  • GSCI 651 Field Studies in Geography which is a concentrated group field study stressing the environment, resources, lifestyles, and problems of a designated territory of the world. Previous field study regions have been New Mexico's Volcano region, Colorado Front Range, Arbuckle Mountains, and Anadarko Oil Bason. Upcoming field study regions include: the Ozark National Forest, Colorado Mountains, Diamond Prospecting in the American Mid-West, Disaster Response sites, and local landscape investigations. 
  • Any number of Special or Advanced Topics courses concentrating on selected regions or topics. 


Museum Studies Courses

GSCI 673 _ Problems in Geosciences: Collections Management - Collections management is a relatively new term in museums and cultural heritage. It has grown from the need to develop professional practice in looking after culturally and historically significant objects and their associated information. It covers a range of activities, including documentation, care, storage, movement, and loan and applies to organizations ranging from national galleries to small local museums. Caring for cultural and natural history collections today also requires knowledge of legal and ethical considerations. Recent developments in the areas of sustainability, security, and economics are also part of daily collections administration. These areas, as well as the practical aspects of collection care, are covered in this course. The information presented in this course can be adapted to a wide variety of collection types. This course will be of use to anyone with responsibility for caring for items of cultural and historical significance. Some course topics include: fundamentals of collections management, collections management policies, legal and ethical considerations, documentation techniques, acquisitions, storage techniques, loans, and exhibitions.

GSCI 673 _ Problems in Geosciences: Exhibit Planning and Design - For museums, exhibits serve as a unique, specialized, and primary medium through which they communicate with the public. To the general public, exhibits are the museum. This course explores the theoretical and practical considerations, planning process, and design principles that lead to successful museum exhibits. Topics range from audience needs and educational messaging through project management and display materials to object conservation and evaluation techniques. The course will incorporate readings, class discussions, practical exercises, critiques, and a field trip. Over the semester, each student will plan and develop an original exhibit design. Students will research a topic, identify display objects, write an exhibit script, prepare a set of design documents, and present design treatments for review.

GSCI 673 _ Problems in Geosciences: Museum Education - (To address and understand the role museum educator's play in today's museums.) Education in a museum encompasses many aspects from galleries, outreach, collections, and ongoing research. Explore the role of education from history and development to current issues, learning theories, techniques and the incorporation of State Science Standards. Learn about museum policies, working with volunteers, and program creation and evaluation. This course will touch on all educational avenues from general public, school groups, and continuing education for teaching professionals. This course is designed for those who want to pursue employment in museum education, further their techniques in elementary and post-secondary education, or simply gain a deeper understanding of the role of education programs within the mission and settings of the museum.

GSCI 673 _ Problems in Geosciences: Museum Management - Museum administration and management deals with the challenges and changing role in society that museums face in our rapidly evolving world. The course looks into the ways that museums are organized, how they find their mission, and how they achieve their objectives. Issues facing museum administrators including personnel, facilities, marketing, public programs, financial management, collections, and ethics will be covered. The emphasis in this course is to allow you to plan and design your ideal museum.

International Field Trips or Study Abroad Opportunities

Next Study Abroad Spring 2020 - 

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the culture and peoples of selected region through direct interaction and visiting sites with deep cultural ties. Join the Department of Geosciences on an educational adventure of a lifetime as we explore the culture of this region. To find out more and to apply to participate visit the Department of Geosciences Study Abroad page at

For additional information on international trips or study abroad opportunities hosted by other departments visit the FHSU Study Abroad page


Previous Trips

  • (Spring 2018) Cultural Geography of Italy and Switzerland - Participants emersed themselves with the people and culture of Italy and Switzerland through daily interaction and touring historic sites of the countries.
  • (Spring and Summer 2017) Cultural Geography of Hawaii - This study abroad included travel and study of the diversity of culture in the Hawaiian Islands of Oahu and Kauai. 
  • (Spring and summer 2016) Denmark/Sweden Urban Sustainability - This study abroad included travel / study benefits for an education in Geography, Sustainability, and Urban Planning with visits to some of the most significant Scaninavian cultural places, sustainable buildings, and monuments. This program examined the features, systems, and designs for suitable cities ranging from public transit, bike and ped circulation to renewable energy systems to land use, and urban planning and design. Based on lectures, field trips, walking tours, guest speakers, design and planning problems, and reading-the-city exercises, the trip asked students to consider what lessons can be taken from Europe back to U.S. cities.
  • (Spring Break 2015) Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands - The Galapagos Islands are one of the most important locations visited by Charles Darwin during his time with the H.M.S Beagle. Much of the evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection came from his observations of wildlife and ecology during his time exploring the islands and their surrounding waters. During our trip to the Galapagos Islands, students witnessed the same natural wonders that inspired Darwin on his 5-year journey, almost 200 years ago. Students explored the islands that helped inspire the theory of evolution, one of the most important ideas in human history.
  • (Spring 2013) Chimote, Peru - Spring Break Trip


A Quick glance at other previous Offerings of Unique Courses and Experiences

The specialty and unique courses highlighted below have been offered in the past to expand student experiences. Check-out the TigerTracks course listing for enrollment opportunities and unique courses such as these each semester.

Advanced Topics in Geosciences: Urban Geography (Fall 2015) -This course will cover the major geographical forces at work in the development of cities and their hinterlands. Students will learn the locational aspects of urbanization, the functions of and relationships among and between cities, their relationship to rural areas along with the internal structure of urban areas. The course will also introduce basic concepts in modern urban planning, including the role of citizens in the process.

Problems in Geosciences: Synoptic Meteorology (Fall 2015) -Synoptic Meteorology addresses the theories and concepts required to understand mid-latitude cyclones, fronts, and jet streams. Emphasis is placed on quasi-geostrophic theory and mid-latitude cyclone models and evolution.

Problems in Geosciences: GPS & Land Navigation: This course will enable students to gain an understanding of the basic principles of navigation, gain understanding of the principles of GPS and its use in navigation, mapping, and surveying, make use of both traditional and high-tech navigational equipment for purposed of charting, mapping, and general land navigation, and apply navigational/GPS-related skills learned to each individual student's area of interest or employment. Particular emphasis is put on the role of specific networks such as NAVSTAR, GLONASS, and prospective GALILEO and BAIDU - collectively known as Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The basics of land navigation, stellar navigation, and trilateration, with these concepts then being applied to the use of the GPS networks will be emphasized. A brief introduction to the fundamentals of chart interpretation will also be supplied.

Problems in Geosciences: Geography of Foods (Spring 2012) - This class will take you on an investigative and tasty world tour of food and cultural eating habits. In this course you will: be exposed to tastes and uses of spices from different regions of the world, have the opportunity to openly discuss your thoughts and opinions on foods and food sources, learn about and discuss world and personal food taboos, investigate food marketing methods, explore principal foods of the world, and identify regional world cuisines as well as united tastes.

Advanced Topics in Geosciences: Disaster Planning and Response (Spring 2012)- This class will take an in-depth look at methods of disaster planning and recent responses to disasters. This course is an excellent elective for anyone interested in a career in urban planning, GIS applications, or any aspect of government.


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