Field education traditionally has been an integral component of undergraduate geoscience curricula. Students have learned the fundamentals of field techniques during core geology courses and have honed their field credentials during class-specific field trips, semester-long field courses, and capstone summer field camps. In many geoscience departments, field camp remains a graduation requirement, and more than 100 field camps currently are offered by U.S. universities and colleges (see http://geology.com/field-camp.shtml).
During the past several decades, however, many geoscience departments have moved away from traditional geologic fieldwork and toward a broader theoretical and laboratory-intensive focus that encompasses a range of subdisciplines. Trends that have influenced these shifts include (1) the decline in the late twentieth century of the petroleum and mining industries, which have consistently championed the values of fieldwork; (2) a decrease in the number of professional jobs that incorporate field mapping; (3) a decline in the number of geoscience majors nationwide [American Geological Institute (AGI), 2009]; and (4) barriers to fieldwork, including time requirements, cost, liability, and decreasing access to field sites.