Fostering Graduate Attributes Through Field Education in Post-Quake Canterbury, New Zealand
Following the 2010-2011 earthquakes in Canterbury, New Zealand, the University of Canterbury (UC) was faced with the need to respond to major challenges in its teaching and learning environment. With the recognition of education as a key component to the recovery of the Canterbury region, UC developed a plan for the transformation and renewal of the campus. Central to this renewal is human capital – graduates who are distinctly resilient and broadly skilled, owing in part to their living and rebuilding through a disaster. Six desired graduate attributes have been articulated through this process: knowledge and skills of a recognized subject, critical thinking skills, the ability to interpret information from a range of sources, the ability to self-direct learning, cultural competence, and the recognition of global connections through social, ethical, and environmental values. All of these attributes may readily be identified in undergraduate geoscience field education and graduate field-based studies, and this is particularly important to highlight in a climate where the logistical and financial requirements of fieldwork are becoming a barrier to its inclusion in undergraduate curricula. Fieldwork develops discipline-specific knowledge and skills and fosters independent and critical thought. It encourages students to recognize and elaborate upon relevant information, plan ways to solve complicated problems, execute and re-evaluate these plans. These decisions are largely made by the learners, who often direct their own field experience. The latter two key graduate attributes, cultural competence and global recognition of socio-environmental values, have been explicitly addressed in field education elsewhere and there is potential to do so within the New Zealand context. These concepts are inherent to the sense of place of geoscience undergraduates and are particularly important when the field experience is viewed through the lens of landscape heritage. This work highlights the need to understand how geoscience students interact with field places, with unique implications for their cultural and socio-environmental awareness as global citizens, as well as the influence that field pedagogy has on these factors.