Grand Canyon Semester: History of GCS
Early Years with NCHC
Chuck Barnes (NAU-Geology, NAU-Honors
Program) worked with National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC)
to bring the Grand Canyon Semester to NAU in
1978. Barnes described “the offering
was an extraordinarily intensive [and sometimes ragged] effort [including a
near-mutiny by some students], but also educationally powerful and rich.” Barnes
restarted conversations with NCHC in 1997 to bring
the program back to NAU. In
fall 1999, GCS was chosen over 31 other proposals to the
NCHC Semesters Committee for sponsorship. The
1999 GCS ran more smoothly than 1978 because of the addition of the
“Resident Director” hired by NCHC.
The 1999 program was deemed “the finest of the NCHC semesters."
The Middle Years
In 2000, NAU decided
offer GCS without the NCHC sponsorship. Several
NAU and adjunct faculty circulated in and out of the program
over the next several years, but GCS retained a core faculty from 1999
to 2002 (Chuck Barnes, Kit Hinsley, Pam
Jacob Fillion/Tom Pittinger at
GCNP). In 2002
worked as GCS co-director and was the full director in 2003 when Barnes retired
and Jim Mead took over as the geology instructor. NAU ran several more successful GCS programs
from 2003 – 2005 and again in 2007, but enrollment declined throughout those years (as did
enrollment in other field-based education programs nationwide).
2012, NCHC and NAU partnered again to offer the Grand Canyon Semester, which
attracted honors students from 13 universities across the country. Because of
the success of GCS 2012, NAU offered GCS again in the fall of 2014, and plans a third run in 5 years for fall of 2016!