The Department of Earth Sciences nominated Stuart for an MPLS Teaching Award, for his outstanding contributions to teaching and the department throughout the pandemic and since normality has begun to return.
Field activity has remained an integral part of the undergraduate course. From the first year excursion to Pembroke to worldwide trips throughout the course, Oxford Earth Scientists are given opportunities from the beginning to develop the practical tools required for research. In turn, this ensures that tomorrow’s experts are scientifically trained to break new ground in their studies.
As we all know the Covid-19 crisis has had a big impact on the past two years of field courses. The early stages of the pandemic in 2020 severely impacted our ability to deliver field teaching and all trips scheduled for the Easter vacation (Assynt, Arran, Spain), Trinity Term (Day-trips around Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds), the Long Vacation (Independent mapping, Dorset, Bermuda, Greece) and Michaelmas Term (Pembrokeshire) had to be cancelled.
In Trinity Term 2021, when it first became possible to return to the field, Stuart co-designed and co-led a number of day field courses for the 1st and 2nd year cohorts who had missed the most field teaching. In the Long Vacation of 2021, 2nd year students had not been able to plan their summer mapping projects as usual, and also missed a great deal of field teaching, so Stuart designed and led a course in Skye where they undertook mapping training and a shorter mapping project with additional guidance – a very wet experience that will live long in their memories!
Head of Department, Mike Kendall said of the award ‘The pandemic has been hard on staff and students alike, and we have all had to pull together to deliver an effective teaching programme. This has been especially difficult with fieldwork teaching. Stuart has gone above and beyond the call of duty in providing creative and effective fieldwork leadership during the pandemic. He is richly deserving of this award and the Department thanks him for his efforts.’
Stuart said “Field teaching is a really important aspect of our Earth Sciences degree and the area of education that was impacted most severely by the pandemic. Although the virtual field classes we developed were extremely useful in connecting lab and field observations (and enjoyable to organise), it was a huge pleasure to get back into the field with our students in 2021. It was lovely to see how enthusiastic they were and to see them rapidly develop their skills as Earth scientists over short periods. It was also nice for me personally to have an excuse to revisit my own mapping area on Skye for the first time in more than 20 years! It was a lovely surprise to receive a Teaching Award from MPLS and I thank the Department for the nomination, my colleagues for their support and leadership, and the students for their patience and good humour throughout the last two years.”
To celebrate, here is a round up of recent fieldtrip ice creams – (Disclaimer: in no way was anyone bribed with ice creams for this nomination)
A well deserved recognition – many thanks Stuart for your teaching throughout the pandemic.