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Faculty Profile: Ed Hansen
Professor of Geology and
Environmental Science

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 hometown.

“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 work.”

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 the sciences.”

This profile was written by Bethany A. Katerberg, a Hope College senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2006-07 Hope College Catalog.

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