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Earth Science and Geography Department Goals and Objectives

Earth Science focuses on analytical skills related to the empirical application of theories of earth processes, including the testing of hypotheses by collecting, recording, and analyzing field and laboratory data. These pursuits require thorough knowledge of the theoretical bases for geological inquiry, as well as a familiarity with the usefulness and limitations of different experimental protocols.Earth Science introduces non-majors to the ways in which scientists approach problem solving and investigation in areas such as geohazards, oceanography, landscape and history, environmental justice, earth resource challenges, and the earth around us. In addition, both non-majors and majors develop an awareness of the importance of multidisciplinary thinking both among the sciences and among Earth Science, the social sciences, and the humanities.Earth Science majors and correlates are expected to achieve a solid familiarity with the methods and theories used to interpret the earth and an understanding of the big questions and controversies concerning those interpretations. At the senior level they must demonstrate the ability to pose and answer significant questions in the field. Important methods include environmental modeling, GIS, quantitative analysis, and data visualization and communication. We encourage majors to write a senior thesis, a requirement for departmental honors, in which the student must decide on a hypothesis (based on theory) and then design a research protocol to test the hypothesis.