Explore the dynamic processes that shape our planet
When you choose a Geosciences major within the F&M Department of Earth and Environment, you will learn about the dynamic processes that shape our planet, the minerals and rocks that comprise it, and the features and processes of the Earths surface and interior. This is a field of fascinating problems, but also with outstanding employment opportunities. This major has a proven track record, consistently ranking among the best undergraduate programs in the country. We offer small classes, taught by professors who are experts in their fields. We have a flexible program, with four required core courses and a selection of the remainder. We feature a hands-on, project-based teaching style in many courses.
The Geosciences curriculum is designed enhance the following skills in students who complete the major:
- Critical thinking and reading, scientific research, and writing (ranging from guided to independent). Developing scientific habits of the mind and a knowledge of scientific practice.
- Collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data in field, lab, and experimental contexts. Different courses address scientific uncertainty and explore various approaches to data collection and analysis. Abundant opportunities exist for students to undertake independent research.
- Working individually and in groups, students learn how to collaborate and contribute to an overall understanding of a problem based on its constituent parts.
- Communicate orally and in writing to diverse audiences to disseminate knowledge. Engage in respectful discourse in class discussions, lead discussions, and give presentations.
Geosciences majors utilize their skills to achieve the following learning outcomes:
- We expect our students to acquire knowledge in the major sub-disciplines of the geosciences. They should develop an understanding of Earth systems and their interactions at various scales of space and time encompassing plate tectonics and global change.
- Be able to reason from evidence by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting various indicators of global, regional and local environmental change; water, soil and air quality; natural resource use and depletion; natural hazards; and land use change.
- Understand, synthesize and apply geologic principles to real-world questions and problems.
- Understand how earth systems processes operate today and how we interpret changes in earth processes through deep time, and inform the future.
In the Field At Home and Abroad
The skills and knowledge our majors develop facilitate critical science-based decision making to address geological issues such as resource extraction and use, natural hazard assessment, and human interactions with Earth systems (past, present, and future).
Courses are rich in field-based outdoors opportunities, with access to diverse local geology, including the Appalachian Mountains and the Piedmont province. We sponsor annual extracurricular field trips to exotic locations such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Study abroad is easily accommodated, and encouraged.
Independent study projects and internships are available for interested students. Courses and independent study include hands-on use of our sophisticated scientific instrumentation, and access to our own computer labs.
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