PVCC Honors Students Journey Through the Grand Canyon

Monday, May 13, 2024
PVCC Honors Students Journey Through the Grand Canyon

The PVCC Honors program recently orchestrated an immersive journey into the heart of one of nature’s most captivating wonders, right here in our own backyard – the Grand Canyon.

Led by Dr. John Douglass, a PVCC faculty member and expert in the field of Grand Canyon geology, the PVCC Honors Program embarked on a three-day expedition along the south rim of the canyon. The goal was to delve deep into the canyon’s geological and paleoclimatic history, unraveling the mysteries of its formation and evolution. This excursion included curated hikes, insightful mini-lectures, and hands-on opportunities for students to gather, process, and categorize geological samples, enriching their understanding of the Grand Canyon's origins.

"Our goal in providing these one-credit honors courses is to help provide an immersive rich experience more typically associated with universities,” explained Douglass. “By spending time together, even if at times uncomfortable, like camping on a cold night, our students experience the importance of being part of a community that grows stronger together through hardships like camping or academics.”

Using their newfound knowledge and laboratory skills, students honed their ability to identify and magnify geological specimens, gaining invaluable hands-on experience which transcends the confines of a traditional classroom. Additionally, the  trip fostered a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of natural history, geological processes, and human history.

“The Grand Canyon trip was a great experience and I met lots of new friends,” said PVCC Honors Student Maddie Rhodes. “It was awesome learning about the Grand Canyon while also being there to see it in person.”

The Grand Canyon excursion has been a tradition at PVCC for years, shepherding at least 10 groups of students over the years. However, this is the first year the endeavor was supported by a small grant, enabling students to delve even deeper into the nuances of regional geology and paleoclimatic shifts. By removing financial barriers, the grant ensured that every student has the opportunity to participate fully. 

Douglass spent countless hours studying and working on the formation of the Grand Canyon, beginning with his Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University and Ph.D. from Arizona State University. He has written four papers: to check out his most recent paper, click here. Additionally, Douglass was interviewed on the planet geocast podcast here

For additional information on PVCC’s Honors Program, visit Honors | Paradise Valley Community College.