This exciting new program allows students the unique opportunity to examine the relationship between scientific and artistic observation and communication. Cross Sections: Observing and Interpreting the Environment through the Lens of Geology and Art in the Bahamas allows students to experience working in environments not found within the United States and tie their observations to local and global environmental processes. Students will snorkel at different beaches around the island, where they will view various living corals and invertebrates that are preserved by the local geology. Participants will combine artistic and scientific field methods to experience and interpret the natural environment. They will learn to use cameras as tools to record, analyze, and creatively interpret. In addition to digital photography, participants will create cyanotype photograms of botanical specimens, a process pioneered by the 19th century English botanist and photographer Anna Atkins.
Through the experience, students will develop field methods and data collection strategies while learning how to use photographic imaging to record their work. Along the way, students will also learn about the island's complicated history and rich culture. Thought to be the site where Christopher Columbus first made landfall in 1492, the island contains ruins of slave quarters from a plantation that operated during the 1800s until the emancipation of slaves. The trip dates correspond with the January 1st celebration of Junkanoo, when Bahamians remember the end of slavery.
Alexa Sedlacek, Associate Professor
Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences
Campus Address: LAT 122
Dr. Sedlacek is a geologist and paleoclimatologist by training, who enjoys taking student groups on field experiences. She is excited to take UNI students to the island of San Salvador, Bahamas, because it provides amazing opportunities to see the effects of sea level change first-hand. In addition to the Bahamas, her research has taken her to New Zealand, the desert southwest, the high desert of Utah and Nevada, and the Appalachians Mountains.
Noah Doely, Associate Professor
Campus Address: KAB 104
Noah Doely is a visual artist working primarily in photography, sculpture, and video. Doely has experience teaching a broad range of classes including darkroom and digital photography, 19th century photographic processes, video, film history, sculpture, 2D concepts, 3D concepts, and performance art. He is interested in the precarious nature of subjective experience, particularly the range of interpretations that surround natural realities and the various ways that individuals have represented, measured, and made sense of the natural world throughout history. His primary interest in photography is its subjective and paradoxical nature: that photography is often used to establish veracity, but that all photographs deceive in one way or another.
UNIV 3159: Cross Sections: Observing and Interpreting the Environment through the Lens of Geology and Art in the Bahamas (3 credit hours)
Majors in the Department of Art will have the option of receiving credit for Photo I ART 2070-01 or Undergraduate Photography ART 4000-06 through participation.
Majors in the Earth & Environmental Sciences will receive credit for Field Studies EARTHSCI 3410 through participation.
Course Description: Collaboration of art and science to view, analyze, and interpret natural systems. Cross disciplinary methods will be used to collect, observe, categorize, and creatively interpret natural and human made artifacts. Participants will develop a variety of field methods and data collection strategies to make environmental interpretations. Emphasis will be placed on photographic imaging as a device to record and interpret natural settings. Participants will examine the relationship between scientific and artistic observation and communication. To be followed or preceded by seminars on the proposed study area. Prerequisites: consent of instructor(s). To view the tentative syllabus, click HERE.
Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be able to:
- Describe scientific concepts, principles and theories presented in the course.
- Develop proficiency in the technical aspects of shooting with a digital SLR camera and working with Adobe Lightroom.
- Use photography as a tool to record, analyze, and creatively interpret.
- Apply scientific and artistic field methods to collect data.
- Record and reflect on observations, processes, and products encountered in the field.
- Identify artists with content related to natural sciences.
- Examine the relationship between scientific and artistic observation and communication.
- Assess the impacts of climate change on the region
- Create a collaborative art exhibition responding to the field experience.
Participation in this program requires several class meetings throughout the fall semester, although the capstone course is scheduled as a winter break course. The Study Abroad Center will enroll participants in the capstone course. Please contact the program's course leader for more information on academic requirements.
Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
Tentative Program Dates: late December - early January
Sample itinerary is subject to change.
Day 1: Arrive to San Salvador, Bahamas; introduce cyanotypes project; orientation
Day 2: Visit Cockburn Town Quarry, then spend the afternoon snorkeling before meeting in the evening in the laboratory
Day 3: Investigate ocean circulation and spend morning at East Beach to take an inventory of items washed in by ocean currents. Students will then explore various beach environments.
Day 4: Continue work on photography and cyanotypes, then explore Cockburn Town and attend Junkanoo celebration.
Day 5: Travel to The Gulf on the south side of the island and investigate how sea level change is recorded by rocks. Spend afternoon snorkeling along patch reefs before meeting in the laboratory that evening.
Day 6: Explore Storr’s Lake, one of the only places on Earth where living stromatolites can be found. Now rare, stromatolites once dominated shallow marine environments. Spend afternoon working on art projects.
Day 7: Visit Long Bay, the site where Christopher Columbus is thought to have first made landfall in the western Atlantic, then spend afternoon snorkeling.
Day 8: Visit Pigeon Creek and let the outgoing tide carry us along a tidal delta, checking out starfish and other invertebrates along the way. Snorkel at The Gulf, time permitting.
Day 9: Visit the Dixon Lighthouse and Lighthouse Cave, which is only accessible at low tide. In the afternoon go to Watling’s Castle, the ruins of a plantation.
Day 10: Work on photography and revisit sites of interest for student projects.
Day 11: Departure for home.
Housing & Meals
The group will stay at the Gerace Research Center, which is uniquely equipped to host university groups. It was formerly a US Naval Base, but has operated as a research center for over forty years. It offers laboratory space, computer resources, a library containing a wealth of information about San Salvador and the Bahamas, and inexpensive room and board. All meals will be provided through the Gerace Research Center as either a field lunch, packed in a cooler, or at the center's cafeteria.
Dates & Deadlines
The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:
- Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
- If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
- Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
- Must be over the age of 18 years old
- Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
- Must be in good standing with the University
- UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
- Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
- All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
- Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.