Geological and Environmental Science
The Study of Environmental Science
Thegeological sciences focus on the materials and geologic processes that form the Earth, planets, and other solid bodies in space. Geology, the study of the earth, includes the study of rocks and minerals, rock deformation and mechanics, mineral and water resources, and changes in life and environments through time. Rapidly expanding areas of study in the geological sciences include groundwater hydrology, geophysics, geomorphology, geochemistry, and computerized geographic information systems (GIS).
The environmental sciences expand the scope of scientific inquiry to include the study of the interactions among the natural processes that form the Earth's system of air, water, land and the biosphere. The study of environmental science combines principles from all sciences to investigate issues of both regional and global significance, including air pollution, global warming, resource and land use and abuse, environmental hazards, and environmental planning and management. Environmental scientists seek to gain an understanding of the processes by which humans affect and are affected by their environment by studying changes in the Earth and the interactions among humans, resources, and natural processes. Environmental science is a truly interdisciplinary science that promotes an understanding of inter- and intra-system processes and interactions.
The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, located in Fisher Science Hall, offers courses in geology, hydrology, ecology, and atmospheric sciences as well as science research and writing, environmental law, and field methods. This unique blend of sciences in one department fosters cooperation and exchange among traditional disciplines that share similar methodological and philosophical problems. The research endeavors of both faculty and students, whether disciplinary or interdisciplinary, deal largely with problems of fundamental scientific interest, while also investigating issues of applied science, management and policy making. To complement a strong curriculum, the department sponsors a summer internship program, an environmental science seminar, and senior research opportunities. The department encourages all majors to explore opportunities to work with the faculty on research projects.
Internships/Research/Independent Study/Field Camp Options. Students are required to enroll in either an internship program, a research project, an independent study project, or an approved field camp. The department recommends on-the-job, practical experiences for majors, particularly those interested in immediate employment in the private consulting or governmental sectors. Approved internships may include work in private industry, planning commissions, consulting firms, environmental law firms, or state and federal environmental departments. The Washington Center offers environmental policy internships in the nation's capitol. The department also has ties with the School for Field Studies, and many opportunities exist for international study abroad.
Students interested in attending graduate school and/or a career in research are encouraged to explore the senior research option within the B.S. program, which would include active research with an individual or team of faculty members. Self-motivated students who wish to pursue further investigation into some aspect or field of geological and environmental science may also pursue a self-designed (and faculty approved) independent study project.
All students are encouraged to enroll in an approved geologic or environmental field camp, which provides a field experience in which students are trained in current mapping and exploration methods. Graduate schools often require these courses prior to enrollment, and the field-based training is extremely valuable to those seeking a professional career immediately following graduation.
Honors. Honors in geological and environmental science encourages and recognizes the superior academic performance in the major. To graduate with departmental honors, candidates must:
- successfully complete the B.S. or B.A. program requirements,
- petition the department by September 15 of their senior year,
- maintain a 3.25 GPA in the major and a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and
- submit a written scholarly report to the faculty and give an oral presentation at a public forum on their research project.