Earth and Environmental Science

Earlham’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science (formerly Geology) provides a firm foundation in how the Earth works, inside and out. We focus on problems of water, mineral and energy resources; geologic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis; and on deciphering the history of the Earth.

Earth and environmental science classes will lead you to the field and lab, working on real-world problems that prepare you to apply what you learn beyond the classroom in internships, research and life after Earlham.

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Grads
Recent graduates have received full funding or the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for graduate programs at Iowa State, University of Texas-Austin, Washington University and the University of New Hampshire.
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79%
of 2016-2020 graduates were employed in an environmental field or graduate program.
Outcomes

Top jobs for Earlham Earth and environmental science graduates are environmental consulting, natural resource management, GIS and education.

Studying the Earth to make a difference

As an Earth and environmental science major, you’ll develop the tools and critical thinking skills to navigate the changing world in which we live. You will participate in at least one career-discerning research experience, field training or internship and work with Earlham faculty or scientists at other institutions on research all over the world and on concerns closer to home, including analyzing local drinking water and soil for lead and assessing dam removal on the Whitewater River. We will work with you to find a summer research position, field program, or internship that fits your interests and career goals.

Hands-on research

In the past five years, students have conducted field research with Earlham faculty studying tsunamis in East Africa, Adirondack mountain building, paleoenvironments of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, coastal processes in Nova Scotia, evidence of ancient waterways in the Four Corners region and geologic risk assessment in northern Japan.

Our faculty

The diverse perspectives of our faculty help prepare science-literate students to tackle the challenges of our changing planet.

Program details

The Earth and environmental science major at Earlham is structured to prepare you for a number of post-graduate options. You’ll take an introductory course followed by a series of core courses. Then, you’ll choose a selection of advanced courses after consultation with your advisers and other members of the Earth and environmental science faculty. Because this program is inherently interdisciplinary, you will also take a selection of other science and math courses.

As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which you will cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects you to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.

As part of your general education, you will complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, you will meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.

Learn more about general education at Earlham.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in Earth and environmental science, you must complete the following courses, in addition to general education requirements:

  • GEOL 201 Earth and the Environment
  • GEOL 314 Interpreting Earth History
  • GEOL 315 Earth Materials
  • GEOL 316 Geochemistry
  • GEOL 488 Senior Capstone Experience
  • Four courses from the following three groups, at least one course from each group:
    • GROUP A
      • GEOL 410 Structural Geology and Tectonics
      • GEOL 411 Tectonics and Geophysics
      • GEOL 412 Petrology
    • GROUP B
      • GEOL 420 Earth Surface Processes
      • GEOL 421 Depositional Environments
    • GROUP C
      • GEOL 430 Ground & Surface Water Hydrology
      • GEOL 431 Soils and Sustainable Agriculture
      • GEOL 432 Climate Systems
  • Two of the following supporting science courses from two different departments:
    • BIOL 111 Ecological Biology
    • CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry
    • CS 128 Programming and Problem Solving
    • MATH 120 Elementary Statistics
    • MATH 180 Calculus A
    • PHYS 120 General Physics I
    • PHYS 125 Analytical Physics I
  • One of the following department-approved experiences
    • GEOL 475 Senior Comprehensive Examination
    • GEOL 481 Internships, Field Studies and Other Field Experiences
    • GEOL 486 Independent Student Research

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

Yes! To earn a minor in Earth and environmental science, you must complete the following:

  • GEOL 201 Earth and the Environment
  • Two of the following core courses:
    • GEOL 314 Interpreting Earth History
    • GEOL 315 Earth Materials
    • GEOL 316 Geochemistry
  • Two of the following upper-level courses:
    • GEOL 410 Structural Geology and Tectonics
    • GEOL 411 Tectonics and Geophysics
    • GEOL 412 Petrology
    • GEOL 420 Earth Surface Processes
    • GEOL 421 Depositional Environments
    • GEOL 430 Ground & Surface Water Hydrology
    • GEOL 431 Soils and Sustainable Agriculture
    • GEOL 432 Climate Systems

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

Employment opportunities in the Earth and environmental sciences are outstanding, with some of the highest starting salaries among the sciences, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Recent Earlham Earth and environmental science graduates are employed in the fields of hydrology, environmental remediation and regulation, natural resource management, geologic hazards, climate change research, energy development, education, planning and GIS, agriculture and environmental law.

Recent majors have interned at places including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, NASA’s Lunar Planetary Institute, Patriot Engineering, the Mammoth Site, Wayne County GIS and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. You’ll also have opportunities for hands-on curation, outreach and exhibit design experience working at our on-campus Joseph Moore Museum. As a result, many students are hired soon after graduation or attend graduate school with full funding.

You can learn more about finding Earth and environmental science internships by visiting the Earlham Center for Global and Career Education.

Through our 3+1 Education Program, you can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) and teaching license—all in just nine semesters.

You’ll leave Earlham with two degrees, licensed to teach grades 5-12 in Indiana. (And it’s easy to transfer your license to other states—many of our graduates do!)

Learn more about our 3+1 program.

Beyond an Earth science course, Earth and environmental science is not commonly taught in high schools, so there is no expectation that you’ll come to the program with a great deal of prior knowledge. Curiosity and the ability to do sound scientific work are most important.

If you want to work outside, travel, solve environmental problems, manage natural resources, research clean energy or better understand our changing climate, this would be a great program for you.

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