As an assistant professor of geology at Southern Utah University, Dr. Johnny MacLean takes his students outside to learn from nature and to see concepts come to life. His authentic teaching style and passion for the outdoors creates a curriculum based on the ideals found in SUU’s mission: to engage students in experiential education leading to personal growth, civic responsibility, and professional excellence.
MacLean completed an undergraduate degree in geology at Furman University, a master’s degree in earth science at Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in geosciences at the University of Montana. Upon completion of his academic studies,
MacLean worked in the oil and gas industry in Texas as a geologist and in the environmental consulting industry in Montana.
Though he appreciates these ‘real-world’ applications of geology, MacLean wanted to have a more direct, positive impact on people’s lives. This desire led him to Southern Utah University where he works as an assistant professor of geology.
MacLean teaches the following courses:
- GEO 1030: Hazards
- GEO 1050: Geology of National Parks
- GEO 1110: Physical Geology
- GEO 2210: Geology of Southern Utah
- GEO 3010: Environmental Geology
- GEO 3120: Tectonics
- GEO 3510: Structural Geology
- GEO 4960: Field Camp
It was a dynamic high school English teacher that first exposed MacLean to a fun, engaging education. He credits this teacher for helping him realize how much influence educators can have on students’ lives, good and bad. He committed then to become an engaging teacher and positive influence on the people around him.
MacLean uses various teaching methods inside (and outside) of the classroom. He takes his students on field trips to national parks near Cedar City and utilizes the rich geologic region of southern Utah.
“Teaching general education geology courses to students from across campus has given me a better appreciation for how all disciplines are interconnected,” said MacLean. “I love how we can transfer concepts and skills from one class to another, and then to our future plans at home or in the workplace.”
MacLean is the academic coordinator for SUU’s Semester in the Parks initiative, a new type of study abroad that places students at Bryce Canyon National Park where they learn from experienced faculty in areas including outdoor recreation, geology, communication, biology and library science. Teaching students in this diverse landscape allows MacLean to show students hands-on concepts that other students only read about in a textbook.
MacLean’s passion for the outdoors allows him to spend his professional and personal time exploring the world. He enjoys backpacking and has recently developed a passion for rafting. He is scheduled to raft approximately 270 miles through the Grand Canyon this summer.