Geo-education – CS 2

Burren Geology evening course

a case study provided by The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, Ireland 

Having an education programme that spreads the awareness of a region’s geological heritage is a prerequisite of being a UNESCO Global Geopark. The Burren has traditionally been a place of learning for hundreds of years with schooling in the region dating back to Bardic times. The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark is committed to promoting their landscape as a destination that support popular and specialist learning. The Stone, Water, Ice introduction to geology evening course is a way for local experts to impart their knowledge of the UNESCO designated landscape in an informal relaxed manner while continuing the Burren’s tradition of being a place of learning.

Education Initiative

 An Introduction to geology evening course developed by the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and titled ‘Stone, Water, Ice – the Burren a landscape shaped by time’. 

Stakeholders / Partners

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and the Burren Outdoor Education Centre – An education centre located in the Geopark that specialises in nature based learning and activities. 

How it developed 

The Geopark geologist created a partnership with a local outdoor education centre to not only create a local learning platform but to support the centre during a quiet time in its annual calendar. The evening course is hosted by the Burren Outdoor Education Centre and the fee for the course is paid directly to them to cover the classroom costs, hosting and admin fees. The Geopark geologist is one of the primary tutors of the course along with the head of field studies of the education centre. 

What’s involved 

The evening course is run on an annual basis and is targeted at anyone with an interest in the Burren landscape and geology from local tourism guides to members of the public interested in heritage and learning. A significant number of tourism businesses and visitors centres have enrolled their guides and front of house staff in the course to ensure they are knowledgeable on their local geological heritage. The course which takes place over five evenings in the winter with a day field-trip included at the end of the programme. It is pitched as an informal learning course with no exam and provides an excellent introduction to geology in general as well as the geology of the Burren. The course explores how the region has been changed over millions of years by floods, earthquakes and ice ages. Each year the Geopark Geologist invites a guest lecturer to speak at the evening course. The guest lecturers have come from several Irish universities and have strong research backgrounds in the field of earth sciences. 

Course Content 
  • Week 1: Introduction to geology 
  • Week 2: Geology of Ireland 
  • Week 3: Geology of the Burren 
  • Week 4: Burren landscapes 
  • Week 5: Fieldtrip 
  • Week 6: Guest Lecturer 

A 25-page course handout has also been developed by the Geopark geologist and the head of field studies at the Burren Outdoor Education Centre.