Drury University’s Field Studies in Geography, Hawaii (NSCI/GEOG 0361) consisted of a two-week exploration of the Big Island in January 2011. The class included research on the sustainability of Hawaii’s macadamia nut industry, marine debris and its effect on sea turtles, the prevalence of small floating debris along Hawaii’s coastline, the effect of lava flows on urban development, and the possibility of harnessing wave energy. Students were given the opportunity to explore the entire Big Island of Hawaii, but research was primarily focused on the eastern and western regions of Hilo and Kona, respectively. On each of these topics, a paper was written which combined research on existing literature with field research, which consisted of interviews, observation, photographic documentation, and other collected data. In addition to creating a research paper, each student also kept a journal detailing daily events and reflections.
Through their research, field studies, and exploration of the island, students gained a unique and inside look at Hawaiian geography, nature, and culture.