Course Information • • Course Overview • • Asynchronous/Technology • • Content • • Links

Asynchronous, On-line Course (Summer I, 2009)
History of Geology (GLY 573)


Hutton Unconformity at Jedburgh, Scotland, illustrated by John Clerk in 1787

“We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they and for a greater distance, not by any virtue of our own but because we are carried high and raised aloft by their stature.”

Bernard of Chartres 11th-12th century philosopher and teacher

Course Information

Christopher A. McRoberts
348 Bowers Hall
voice: (607) 753-2925
Course Dates
Summer Session I: May 20-June 24, 2009.

Syllabus and Course Information

Course Syllabus [pdf file]

Reading, writing, discussion expectations [pdf file]


Registration is conducted by SUNY Cortland's Registrar. See also the Summer Sessions web site for additional information regarding registration. Please note: enrollment in this course will require the permission of the instructor.

Matriculated Undergraduate and Graduate Students will be able to register for summer session classes at the same time they register for Fall 2009 classes. SUNY Cortland undergraduate students must see their advisor to receive their registration PIN, which is different from your Banner Web Access PIN. Graduate students do not require a registration PIN from an advisor, but will need their User ID and Banner PIN to log on to Banner Web.

Non-matriculated students including those visiting from other colleges, may mail, fax, or bring their registration form to the Registrar's Office (undergraduate) or the Graduate Studies Office (graduate) any time after web registration closes for matriculated students which is April 18. Registration forms will be available to print off of the web on April 20. Non-matriculated student registration forms will be processed by date received on a space available basis.


Course Overview

This course deals with the historical development of geology as a scientific discipline from ancient civilizations to modern times. The course will cover the historical context and cultural basis of major geological theories regarding the origin of the Earth and processes that have influenced the Earth's development. We will also explore the lives and contributions of individuals, whose ideas have shaped geologic thought and public opinion as well as scientific technology, exploration, and the changing role of science through time.

An Asynchronous Online Course

This course is a completely web-based course. All interaction between students and the instructor is via the internet in an asynchronous manner (meaning that the class members do not all need to be logged in at the same time). However, it is not a self-paced course-- students need to interact with the the instructor and each other in a timely fashon. We will have a fairly rigorous schedule of podcast lectures, readings, discussions, and writing assignments.

Technology Requirements

An internet connection (broadband required).  Students will need to be on-line on a daily basis and have the ability to download and upload course content and assignments. Some of the digital content files may be big (+10 MB) or streaming video, thus if you have a slow internet connection, perhaps this course isn’t for you.

Web browser. Make sure your web browser is up to date. For Windows I recommend Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (v. 7 or higher) or Firefox (v. 2.0 or higher) for a Mac, Safari (any version) or Firefox v. 2 (or higher) would be fine.

An active email account. Much of the correspondence will be delivered through email. It is important to have a reliable email account that you can access on a daily basis and have the ability to receive and send attachments.

Video playback software. You will need to have the ability to download and view video podcasts (vodcasts). These will likely be large files and will be in a format that can be viewed in Apple’s QuickTime or iTunes. Both software products are available for free download from Apple’s website Note: the vodcasts will also be in a format that can be played on iPods that support video (iPod 5G with video and the newer iPod Classic, iPod Nano 3G, iPod Touch, and the iPhone).

Additional software. Many of the files I will send you (or you will download) will be in pdf (portable document format) and you will need to have the ability to open them. Adobe provides the free Acrobat Reader reader to view pdf documents which can be downloaded from I would prefer also to receive documents in the pdf format as well.  You will need a word processor. Microsoft Word (for Window’s or Mac) will do as would several other open source programs that can be obtained for free.. Please note: I will NOT accept files made with from other programs such as WordPerfect (.wp).

Required Text and Readings

Gohau, G., Carozzi, A., and Carozzi, M. 1991. A History of Geology. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 258 p.
find new and used at Amazon or used at

Additional readings (pdf documents or links to webpages) will be made available throughout the semester

Course Content
[restricted area for registered students]

Vodcast Lectures

Assignments and Discussions


History of geology resources on the Web: by the History of Geology Group of the Geological Society.

Listing of geologists and institutions from James Aber (Emporia State University).

History of Geology Division of the Geological Society of America.

The History of Earth Sciences Society.


Return to SUNY Cortland's Paleo Lab main page
Return to SUNY Cortland's Geology Department
Return to SUNY Cortland's main page

© 2009. SUNY Cortland Geology Department

SUNY Cortland is an Equal Opportunity Institution. State University of New York and the College at Cortland do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability or marital status in admissions, employment, and treatment of students and employees.

This page was created: August 1, 2006, modified February 18, 2009