Learning How the Earth Works


Nine weeks. Three vans. Seventeen hotels, hostels, and campgrounds. Nearly 3,000 miles across six states and provinces.

The Stretch—Dartmouth’s storied earth sciences off-campus program—takes 22 undergraduates, six faculty members from the Department of Earth Sciences, and six graduate student teaching assistants into the field on a geological tour of the American West, from the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies to the floor of the Grand Canyon.

No other geology program in the country exposes undergraduates to this breadth of field techniques and geographic locations. Over the course of the term, students measure the depth of a glacier, map mountain bedrock formations, collect data from rivers and dunes, analyze their findings, and more—all under the close mentorship of Dartmouth professors and graduate students. In short, they get a hands-on, personal taste of what it’s like to be a scientist.

But the Stretch is more than a scientific expedition. It’s an opportunity to live and work intensively with a small group of people who are responsible for each other’s learning and growth. Or, as Max Bond ’20, who participated in the Stretch last fall, says, “It’s a two-and-a-half-month-long road trip with 21 of your best friends.”

Video: On the Road with the Stretch
View of the Earth from outer space
Department of Earth Sciences

Earth Science involves the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes on Earth and other planets over time. We study not only rocks and minerals, but also rivers and oceans, ice and snow, and the atmosphere and climate.

Bird watching at palo verde
The Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education

We endeavor to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and ethical civic engagement through transformative global academic experiences