2018-2019 Undergraduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 25, 2024  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Earth Sciences, BA

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Laura K. Lautz, Chair
204 Heroy Geology Laboratory,


Suzanne L. Baldwin, Tripti Bhattacharya, Marion E. Bickford, Melissa L. Chipman, Daniel Curewitz, Paul G. Fitzgerald, Gregory D. Hoke, Linda C. Ivany, Christopher Junium, Jeffrey A. Karson, Christa A. Kelleher, Laura K. Lautz, Zunli Lu, Robert Moucha, Cathryn R. Newton, Scott D. Samson, Christopher A. Scholz, Donald I. Siegel, Jay B. Thomas

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.

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 and math courses and fewer electives from within the department. The B.A. degree also does not require the completion of a field camp experience. 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 and is a good option to combine with other majors. Graduates with a B.A. in Earth Sciences go on to be lawyers, teachers, business people, environmental planners, public policy makers, and politicians, as well as geologists.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Can explain process-based linkages among tectonics, climate, and life as illustrated by the Earth system over time; can relate general patterns in the history of the earth system using rocks and fossils

2. Can identify and describe the major rock-forming minerals and relate the origin of the three major rock types

3. Can infer depositional processes and environments from field and lab observations of sedimentary systems

4. Can describe tectonic controls in features of the Earth’s crust and expressions of plate tectonics including faults and folds

5. Can effectively synthesize published literature related to earth science in a written report

6. Can prepare and deliver effective oral presentations

7. Can competently represent, manipulate, and interpret scientific data

Requirements for a B.A. Degree in Earth Sciences

The BA degree in Earth Sciences requires at least 26 credits of Earth Science course work.

Introductory Course (one of the following):

Additional Courses

An additional 10 credits in Earth Sciences at the 300 level or above.

Required Ancillary Sciences and Mathematics

Requirements For Distinction In Earth Sciences

Minimum GPA Within Department 3.6

Cumulative GPA, by End of Senior Year 3.4

Other Criteria Required for the Degree with Distinction:

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.

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