Welcome to the website of Dr. Scott Burns

Dr. Scott Burns still teaches two classes at Portland State University every year:

G344 - Geology of the National Parks, which covers the geology in our national park system.


G200 - Field Studies: Mount St. Helens. During this class students visit Mount St. Helens' Visitor Center at Silver Lake, the Toutle Sediment Retention Structure, four outcrops of volcanic rocks, debris flows and landslides, and the famous debris avalanche and the David Johnson Ridge Visitor Center. During the pre-field trip class meeting, students are introduced to the geology of the Mt St. Helens areas, information on the geology of the Cascade Range, volcanic hazards.

Here is what students say of Dr. Burns' teaching:

"One of the best classes I have taken at PSU! Professor Burns made the subject material  interesting and exciting.  If I wasn’t graduating I would take everything he taught!  The professor! This course/subject has the potential to be dull but Professor Burns makes it very interesting! I was always excited to come to class.  I am very happy I took a class with Professor Burns! It is one of my highlights of PSU."



"It is a truly inspiring and educational course.  Greatly increased my understanding of the earth beneath my feet and souring above my head.  Makes me want to get out more and explore the natural world, and share the knowledge and sense of wonder with younger generations.  Encourage them to study geology.  He actively supports minorities and females – Yay!  Combined the scientific explanations of physical earth, with insights into environmental steward ethics.  Appreciated the information about the people/organizations who created the national parks.  Highlighted unique formations of each park.  Scientific info presented in a fascinating way.  It only last one term.  I will be going through withdrawal from Scott Burns’ enthusiastic presentations.  Wish I could attend his presentations year around.  Hire Scott Burns to teach more classes on Oregon, with lectures and field trips please!  He may be PSU’s greatest asset."



"This is a great class to take for fun and credits.  I found the information really exciting and interesting.  The strengths of this class are teaching you all about the National Parks and their geology in a way you could understand.  This class has been my favorite out of the entire year!"



"Professor Burns was extremely knowledgeable about the course and he’s able to communicate that knowledge in a way that everyone could understand.  The professor is by far one of the greatest strengths of this course.  Scott Burns was by far one of my favorite professors in my College Career.  He made coming to class something to look forward to."



"So far the best class I’ve taken at PSU.  Burns is super organized and very knowledgeable.  Everything I learned will be useful in the future.  If there was a part 2, I would take it.  Only class I look forward to every week – all year.  Organized, great info, great instructor."



"This is a fantastic class.  Geology was never more interesting. I learned a lot.  Highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher.  Thoroughly prepared and engaging lectures.  Dr. Scott Burns is one, if not the most, engaging instructor I have ever had."



"Scott Burns is an extraordinary teacher and he makes the information and material very understandable  I gained a new appreciation for the geology and history of our national parks. I hated that the class was ending.  – Knowledge of the presenter. – Rich history of national parks development.  Burns learned names of and personally connected to individuals.  Professor Burns goes out of his way to help students succeed and offer extra support when needed.  I have enjoyed sharing information with friends about the national parks that I have learned in the class."



"Excellent.  Broad coverage with great detail.  Very enthusiastic professor – intense presentation of subject matter.  Prof. Burns!!  PSU and the Geology Dept. are very lucky to have Scott Burns. "



"Scott is an excellent example of a true teacher with tremendous enthusiasm for the subject matter, and respect for all students.  The class creates a desire to learn more."


"I absolutely love this class in style, topic, enthusiasm.  I want to learn more.  Instructor makes enthusiasm for geology and national parks infectious.  I will carry this class with me forever.  THANK YOU: for teaching, inspiring, for loving to teach, for setting an example of what kind of teacher I’d wish to be."



"Absolutely terrific – you have vastly improved the way I view, experience, and interact with the world and people.  A true master/model teacher…  Made a large “lecture” class feel like a comfortable community of learners.  Humor, knowledge, personality, organization, accessibility, welcoming atmosphere – Great at incorporation of questions and managing them while honoring questions."



"An excellent introduction to the geology and history of the U.S. National Parks.  Dr. Burns is a very passionate and knowledgeable instructor who is clearly well-traveled and proceeded to explain the geology of the parks and share his own experiences at many of them.  Dr. Burns is very enthusiastic and experienced in the subject matter.  Both his lecture and the textbook are excellent ways to be introduced to each park."



"Lots of fun with very useful information.  Dr. Burns was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  Loved the field trip"



"Dr. Burns is Awesome!  His love for geology is displayed every lecture."



"I really like Dr. Burns’ passion about geology as a whole.   His understanding about national parks, rocks, volcanoes, etc. was outstanding, and he was able to express his enthusiasm through his lectures.  I like this class even though it was very hard for me.  The professor’s understanding of the materials. The lectures are clear and the assignments are straight forward.  I applaud Dr. Burns’ ways of teaching and his love and understanding of geology.  I would take another class from Dr. Burns."


"It was good.  Expectations were clear.  Dr. Burns really cares about what he is teaching!  He sets up the class for students to succeed.  Notes on D2L make class more enjoyable because I don’t need to scramble to get everything written down and that never works for me.  Online notes are more effective.  Song of the day and news of the day is a nice way to start the class, I’ve never had that before and I enjoy it.  By the way, my entire family knows about most of the parks because they helped me study my flash cards 100’s of times!!



"A+  I really enjoyed this class, as a geology minor I felt I had the tools to succeed on the geologic questions.  Since this is University Studies Class, it might be the case that many might struggle with the introductory geology.  Thanks for the lovely experience.  I’m suggesting this class to my partner’s father, who is a senior, and I think he would love to audit it."



"The class was well organized, the lectures were presented with enthusiasm.  Professor Burns cared that the students did well and encouraged office time for those who needed more help.  Vast knowledge of the professor.  Professor’s openness for questions.  Availability of class notes.  I enjoyed this class a lot.  It was a great review.  At one moment my brain woke up and I remembered information from the geology classes I took 35 years ago.  That was fun!"



"Excellent!  Dr. Burns displays the same enthusiasm in the classroom as he has in his history pub lectures.  I learned tons, and appreciate the opportunity to learn.  1- Dr. Burns’ enthusiasm 2- organization 3- book is excellent, readings informative 4- Dr. Burns’ class notes available and very useful 5- Dr. Burns’ visuals – slides, etc. 6- Pace rapid and easy to follow.  Thoroughly enjoyable to a senior auditor."



"I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of Dr. Burns.  He has a lot of knowledge.  I also appreciate the thoughtful evaluations of papers and him posting my class progress.  The knowledge and excitement.  Also, the fact that Dr. Burns took us to a field trip so that we could actually say we have been at a national park.  I had never, officially, been in a national park.  I will definitely visit more and use the information I have learned when buying a house in the future."



"Great course and instructor.  The material was interesting and accessible to all.  A nice break from the slug of my major courses.  The instructor was knowledgeable, engaging, and passionate, making each class worth attending.  Not a course you want to skip out on!  - Open to all majors (like the national parks themselves) – practical, as one can easily visit any of the parks (except Samoa and Hawaii) – engaged instructor, with lots of relevant experience – no busy work, fair exams.  Great course, would recommend to anyone!"



"The teacher was enthusiastic and interesting to listen and learn from.  The teacher’s enthusiasm and knowledge base."



"Excellent, Scott is very instructive, inspirational, and entertaining. Amazing amount of knowledge."



"Wonderful survey of national parks focused on the geology with background on history and geography.  Good total understanding of the parks.  Instructor’s enthusiasm and concern that everybody does well with grades and understanding the course material.  Interjection of personal stories with humor.  He makes sure SALC member are welcomed.  Keep Professor Burns teaching as long as possible."



"Exceptional.  Professor’s expertise and delivery. Timely discussions of current events. Pictures.  Excellent and timely topics. Professor’s enthusiasm is infectious.  Learned a lot – look forward to national parks visits."



"A wonderful, timeless subject taught with verve, gusto, humor, and obvious love for the subject.  The course outline.  The subject itself.  The instructor.  Second time auditing.  Just as fascinating the second time.  May repeat in a few years because I am of an age where everything seems new."



"This was a great class and the professor was very well vested in the subject.  He (the professor) holds everyone to higher level and expects students to actually do the work and learn.  Great professor, he’s very enthusiastic about the subject.  This class was recommended by several people because Scott was teaching it."



"My overall evaluation is that the class was both fun and hard.  It is a lot of material to cover and even more to study for.  I enjoyed the class and I can tell that learning has occurred.  The strength of the class is the photos that linked everything together.  The field trip was amazing!  This class was recommended by a mentor, and I am glad she did.  I am really glad the “Professor sucks at retirement.”



"I enjoyed the subject I was learning, it was a  very fun class.  Its content, I feel like it’s a fun and exciting class."



"Great class and professor.  Relevant to current issues.  Instructor is enthusiastic and knowledgeable!  The geology and current events.  Instructor’s knowledge.  Breadth of info covered.  Makes me want to get out there and explore.  Hope to make it to lots of parks when I have kids someday.  The information and slides I will probable keep and use for the rest of my life."



"My overall evaluation of the course is extensively positive!  The coursework was engaging and the homework was great because it allowed you to pick a topic you wanted to explore and write a short report on it.  Short guide easily disassembled information without losing the intelligibility and strengths.  Left out the useless information that didn’t pertain to the focus of the class. Great engaging teacher.  Love the teacher.  Always has a good story. Field trip was a blast."



"Fantastic!  Welcomes auditors. Teaching is his joy!"



"For me (an auditor) it was great.  The geology was very intense, perhaps too much for me.  Note: this is not a suggestion to change, just a comment.  The coverage of the parks, especially as related their geological similarities.  Also, the general info on many that I’ll never visit.  Dr. Burns is a fabulous teacher, super organized and thorough – so much valuable experience."



"Fascinating class – we really benefited from Prof. Burns’ encyclopedic knowledge and personal experience.  Well organized according to the geology of the parks, much historical information, great photographs.  I would recommend this class, and may audit it again."



"Great subject, awesome instructor, well organized and presented.  Great D2L materials.  The professor!  Look forward to another class from Dr. Burns."



"Excellent.  Instructor’s enthusiasm.  Great photos of national parks."



"Great class.  Instructor’s knowledge of the subject. Thanks for your time and enthusiasm."



"I thought it was great.  The Professor seemed extremely knowledgeable and seemed to really enjoy the subject matter and teaching it.  I’m really happy that I was able to take this class from this professor."



"Excellent – I learned a lot for not being a geology major.  Professor’s enthusiasm for his subject matter. He’s a walking encyclopedia!  I hope to take other classes with Dr. Burns. He’s awesome!"



"Excellent. Instructor’s enthusiasm for subject."



"I really enjoyed this geology class as beginner into this subject.  Knowledgeable instructor.  Dense yet enough info per park.  Lots of extra credit opportunities."



"Lots of information.  Good class and hard tests.  Very fun class to attend.  Instructor is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject."



"Great class.  Consistent format, professor lead study session, clear expectations, current events integrated into course.  Great music.  Glad to be here – fantastic class to wrap up my undergrad.  Very inspiring and I’m dying to go to Glacier NP now.  Enjoyed the immersion in more geology and I gained a better handle on the rocks and ages, which is a personal goal of mine."



"Interesting class, fun subjects to learn.  The instructor’s knowledge and appreciating of the subject he is teaching."



"Very enjoyable, professor.  Burns was very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable.  Always willing and excited to answer questions.  Clear, very in depth into the subject material in a manner that is engaging and easy to follow along."



"It was a good course.  Learned a LOT.  Burns was an enthusiastic and engaging lecturer, good photographs, hearing about current events!"



"It was very good.  Very thoughtful and well presented.  The lecture. The professor was well prepared.  I learned a lot.  He explained everything clearly."



"Very informative, Professor, class.  The most important information about each national park being delivered in [an] effective way."



"I learned a lot in this class.  Seeing Scott’s enthusiasm made it more exciting to learn things.  Taking time to elaborate on topics.  Scott is really cool, and cares for his students."



"Good class, very informative and interesting.  The professor’s personal experiences at different parks he’s visited.  As well as his expertise with their geology."



"I really enjoyed this class and all the information that you gave us about the parks and geology in general.  Having students to watch videos on the parks, going over the lecture notes/slides every day, and answering all questions."



"This class was not what I expected.  It felt like a tourist advertisement of the national parks rather than a course on their geology  Easy as shit.  I used this class time to do homework for other classes and didn’t feel like I was behind."



"The test are extremely hard, compared to the content presented."



"I enjoyed the class but the tests need to be evaluated.  Each exam has hundreds of items to memorize and it’s nearly impossible to know what is important.  Fortunately, Dr. Burns knows this and curves accordingly, but still there needs to be better clarification.  Lots of great info and photos.  Really interesting and Dr. Burns is enthusiastic."




Dr. Scott Burns

Dr. Scott Burns

Dr. Scott Burns