Cover Photo Image


London, Salisbury, Lyme Regis, St. Austell, England

Program Description

The southwest of England is an area both rich and diverse in its long-term environmental history and record of human impact. While dinosaurs roamed the land, the coast was a shallow sea hosting many species of animals now extinct, leaving only fossils behind. Forces deep from deep with the Earth left their mark with a rich legacy of metal ore deposits that were a great source of wealth from Roman times, but were also critical elements in ushering in the Bronze Age, and later supporting Celtic kingdoms. The region was also part of the Kingdom of Wessex, made prominent by Alfred the Great, and has also served as literary and artistic setting, such as the Poldark series. Accessing the richness of the region had environmental, cultural, and economic impacts that have lasted to this day. This course will examine the environmental legacy of southwest England in field-based settings, traveling to sites that illustrate the crossroads between humans and their relationship to the Earth from prehistory to the present day.

Students will choose to enroll in GEOL 398 or ENVT 300.

Information Session

Tuesday, October 22, 6:00 PM in EnGeo 3231

Location Description

Starting at the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, the course will meet once weekly in evening sessions, providing the basic cultural, geologic, and historical content and context for the the spring break trip proper. Students will travel to London, and departing directly from the airport, will travel first to Salisbury, examining the site of Old Sarum, an ancient settlement north of the city and then to Salisbury Cathedral, which houses one of the surviving copies of the Magna Carta. The course will then travel south to the Isle of Portland, examining the history and legacy of limestone quarrying that supplied the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire as well as the marker stones for the Mason & Dixon survey in America. Next the course will travel along the Jurassic Coast (a world heritage site) to Lyme Regis, the home of Mary Anning, one of the first paleontologists and the source of the tongue-twister, “she sells sea shells by the sea shore.”

The course will then travel through Devon and towards Cornwall, examining the copper and tin mining areas that supplied both the Bronze Age as well as the Napoleonic Wars. The negative environmental impact of these operations is reversed at the Eden Project in St. Austell, the home of the Eden Project, where sustainability is demonstrated through the re-creation of multiple biomes in what was a china clay pit. The course will then return to London, visiting the Natural History Museum and the British Museum to summarize the sites through exemplary artifacts. From this experience, we anticipate students will be able to develop plans for reclaiming areas from negative impact, while honoring the environmental history, culture, and the reimagining of place, in an area where the long-term elements are laid open.


Eric Pyle | | Geology & Environmental Science

Debbie Sturm | | Graduate Psychology


Accommodations abroad will consist of group housing Air BnB locations, hosting the 12-15 students and 3 faculty/staff. Several nights will also be at the Eden Project Hostel. Transportation within the field regions will be through rental mini-buses, and by public transit in London.

Breakfasts will be provided, as will packed-lunch supplies. Students will be responsible for dinner on their own at each site, with information provided by project staff.

Additional Items to Consider

Students are required to participate in the once-a-week preparatory sessions in the first half of the semester, and to complete the final project during the second half of the semester after the travel abroad portion.

*Students enrolled at JMU full-time Spring 2020 will pay no additional tuition to participate in a spring break program. The program fee will be the total required cost.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

All majors are welcome to apply.  This is an excellent option for students with a declared major in Geology, Geographic Sciences, or a declared minor in Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Humanities, or Environmental Management.

Sophomore, Junior, Senior, or graduate students 

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


GEOL 398: Topics in Geology (3 credits)

ENVM 480: Environmental Topics (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


Back to Top