Faculty Profile: Ed Hansen
Professor of Geology and
When Dr. Ed Hansen began teaching at Hope College in 1984, he
says, “I was looking for a school where I didn’t think
that being of the Christian faith would be considered a disadvantage.”
At Hope, that quality has actually been an asset, allowing him to apply a fuller
perspective to his teaching. Through his work both in and out of the classroom,
Dr. Hansen says that “part of what I hope to represent to my students
is that it’s possible to be both a mainline scientist who works in the
mainstream and a faithful Christian.”
Hope’s history of excellence in science education is well documented,
a result of the college’s emphasis on experience-based learning. The
approach is extremely beneficial for students interested in pursuing careers
in the sciences.
Dr. Hansen says that “in the sciences, the main advantage of Hope is
our emphasis on undergraduate research. We’re almost an apprenticeship
program. We are able to offer research opportunities at some time to every
student that expresses interest.”
The department of geological and environmental sciences also schedules teaching
field trips throughout the year. A highlight from last year, for example, was
the trip to Death Valley.
In every program in the sciences, students are conducting research with the
faculty during the school year as well as the summer.
Dr. Hansen says that, “by the time they leave Hope, most of our students
will have been to national meetings, will have done presentations, and will
have completed the research program up until the time when they had been submitted.
Nobody that I know of does it as consistently as Hope nor as extensively. That
is, to me, one of the major pleasures of working at Hope. It gives me the chance
to research with the students.”
Dr. Hansen’s research projects have taken him as far away as Sri Lanka
and India. Currently he is focusing on the geological history of Lake Michigan’s
sand dunes, a distinctive feature of the lakeshore near Hope’s Holland
“Research is my hobby and I like to travel, which the research allows me
to do,” he says. “So it is a break; it’s a different kind of
Dr. Hansen applauds the college for making student-faculty research a priority.
“This school is very good at supporting faculty scholarship, and it’s
considered part of my teaching,” he says. “Hope is tremendously supportive.
It encourages people to do scholarship and it provides the resources. The only
expectation that the college has is that students are personally involved in
This profile was written by Bethany A. Katerberg, a Hope College
senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2006-07 Hope College
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