VIEW FROM ACADIA - 1994
The year 1994 was a busy one for the Geology Department at Acadia. The increase in student enrolment has reached the senior-year courses, so that this year we look forward to graduating a class of about 12. We continue to have large enrolments in the first year courses designed primarily for non-majors. (In these days of accountability it's good to have our enrolment/faculty ratio at the same level as other science departments!) Among majors we have students in a variety of programs - Geology majors, Geology/Biology majors (who take more courses in Geology), Biology/Geology majors (who take more courses in Biology), students anticipating the introduction of a B.Sc. program in Environmental Science as well as honours and graduate students. It is a complex matter, trying to provide teaching time slots for such a diverse group, some of which must take core courses (most requiring lab periods) in two or more departments. On top of all this we have agreed, along with other science Departments, to provide a Coop program, and we are currently contacting possible Coop employers.
After two years of waiting, the Environmental Science degrees received the go-ahead late this year, and we anticipate the first students to enrol in the program in the new year. Geology and biology are the areas of course concentration, but other sciences are well represented and the overall degree has more science required than traditional BSc's.
There is no doubt that "environmental" geology is the direction where many of our students are heading, whether it involves hydrogeology, the computer-based image analysis and GIS business, or more biological or ecological fields. Employment prospects in the traditional areas of petroleum and mineral exploration and government surveys still seem limited, though a little better.
As you might guess from the mention of GIS and image analysis, the use of computers in the Geology Department continues to grow. Nowadays, students only do one or two norm calculations or stereonet plots by hand, then use the computer. We plan to introduce AutoCAD and related programs, which are now widely used for general geological mapping as well as in the mineral industry.
There is nothing new to report on potential rationalization of Geology programs in the province. After a flurry of activity two years ago, little has yet come of it. Reviews and restructuring have continued in other disciplines (Education, Engineering and Computer Science), and are under way in Business. Geology is apparently still on the list.
Some of the major events of the year within the Geology Department include the completion of Stewart Sweeney's two-year term as lecturer in the areas of sedimentary geology, geomorphology and hydrogeology. We were able to replace Stewart with Ian Spooner, who came to us from the University of Calgary. More details on Ian's work and interests can be found later in this letter. Our field schools in cooperation with St. F.X. University continued. An enthusiastic group of 16 second-year students descended on Antigonish in late April, ready for five days braving the fierce northerlies from the Gulf. None of them will forget their first day on the Georgeville shore, when, as they stepped out of the van, the rain began, the fog blew in, and their world shrank to a cold wet beach of volcanic rocks and alaskite! The senior field school was again held in conjunction with St. F.X., at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton Island. The students involved in this school had become acquainted the previous year in Antigonish, and teamed up well with each other to complete their mapping assignments. At the Atlantic Universities Geological Conference at Dalhousie in October the St. F.X./Acadia friendly rivalry continued - this year the APICS award returned to Acadia. It has been won by St. F.X. or Acadia 11 of the past 12 years. More details of this and other Fletcher Club activities can be read below.