Program - Earth Sciences, BA
Donald Siegel, Chair
Suzanne L. Baldwin, Marion E. Bickford, Paul G. Fitzgerald, Gregory D. Hoke, Linda C. Ivany, Christopher Junium, Jeffrey A. Karson, Laura K. Lautz, Zunli Lu, Robert Moucha, Cathryn R. Newton, Scott D. Samson, Christopher A. Scholz, Donald I. Siegel, Bruce H. Wilkinson
The Earth Sciences provide insights into some of humanity’s deepest questions. How was the planet Earth, our lifeboat in space, formed? What are the processes that have shaped the Earth - its surface and internal structure? How has life, of which humanity is a part, evolved? Why are there earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain chains, continents, and oceans? How has the surface of the Earth changed through time? On a practical level, the study of Earth Sciences provides a basis for understanding natural hazards, assessing Earth’s climate variability and global change, predicting the migration of man-made pollutants, and exploring for the energy and mineral resources upon which society depends. The study of Earth Sciences also, uniquely, provides a perspective of time and an appreciation of the natural world that can enrich a lifetime.
The Department of Earth Sciences offers bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees. The bachelor of science degree is recommended for students intending to pursue a career in the Earth Sciences-either professionally or in academia. Most bachelor of science students continue on to graduate school to obtain a master’s degree, the standard entry-level professional degree in the Earth sciences, or a Ph.D. if they intend to pursue a career in academia. Two bachelor of science degree tracks are offered within the department, the B.S. in Earth Sciences, and the B.S. in Earth Sciences with focus in environmental science. The B.S. in Earth Sciences provides a strong background in basic science and geology, and through appropriate choice of electives can be tailored to meet a wide range of possible interests within the Earth Sciences. The B.S. in Earth Sciences with focus in environmental science is offered jointly with the biology department, and is recommended for those students specifically intending to pursue a career in the environmental arena.
The bachelor of arts degree in Earth Sciences is recommended for those students who enjoy and are intellectually intrigued by the Earth Sciences, but intend to pursue careers in other fields. The B.A. degree differs from the B.S. degree in that it requires fewer ancillary science courses and fewer electives from within the department. Along with intellectual enrichment, the B.A. degree provides a rounded science foundation and critical thinking skills that can be applied to numerous other fields. Graduates with B.A.s in Earth Sciences go on to be lawyers, teachers, business people, environmental planners, public policy makers, and politicians, as well as geologists.
Students must complete a research-based senior thesis in conjunction with a faculty supervisor. The thesis must constitute independent, hypothesis-driven research involving investigative tools and techniques in the Earth Sciences. Students must submit the written thesis to the department and give a public seminar reporting their results. Students should register for EAR 409 - Senior Thesis in Earth Science in the semester in which they plan to submit the thesis. All else being satisfied, Distinction is conferred following a vote of approval from the Faculty of the Department of Earth Sciences.