Jul 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Earth and Environmental Sciences, B.S.

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Earth and environmental sciences (EES) are critical disciplines for environmental stewardship and resource management. Students in this program engage in diverse field and laboratory investigations in order to develop their understanding of the past, present, and future behavior of the whole earth system. They become members of a scientific community, learning techniques of field observation, measurement, sampling, and analysis as part of their coursework. EES majors work side-by-side with their professors in classes and laboratories, and in the field conducting research in nearby forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, and coastal settings.

EES majors also have opportunities for hands-on internship experiences. They become proficient in doing and communicating science, often making presentations in public and scientific arenas. EES majors will graduate with a solid foundation for careers in the earth and environmental sciences, K-12 science education, or graduate school, ready to tackle resource, energy, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. They will be environmentally literate citizens capable of using scientific approaches to effect constructive change.

With distinct roots, geology having first blossomed in the 19th century and environmental science more recently as the response to widespread awareness of humanity’s impact on the planet, today the two share much in common. Such a broad field necessitates concentrations in either Earth or Environmental Science; students will select a B. S. in either the Geology or the Environmental Science track. Both tracks place a strong emphasis on field and hands-on experiences.


Track A: Geology Concentration

Students in the UMF Earth and Environmental Sciences: Geology track focus on understanding the past and present processes that shape our planet and its resources. The program especially values field experiences both at nearby field sites and, during travel courses, other geologically rich locations such as Newfoundland, Ireland and Scotland, and central Canada. Graduates go on to careers in mineral exploration, water resource management, education, and GIS analysis.


One of the following 100-level courses (4 credits):

Two of the following 300-level courses (8 credits):

Required Courses in Science and Mathematics (12 credits):

Total Credits for the Geology track: 48

Geology Concentration Options

An Honors option, consisting of an additional 6 credits of senior research (GEY 496 Senior Research I and GEY 499 Senior Research II) is available to students who demonstrate initiative and the capacity for original work in their introductory and mid-level courses.

Track B: Environmental Science Concentration

The UMF Earth and Environmental Sciences: Environmental Science track offers an interdisciplinary preparation that is flexible, quantitative, and offers the opportunity for greater specialization. Students gain a strong core in the natural sciences and mathematics and, with the guidance of an advisor, may select electives that allow for in-depth specialization in a specific discipline. Graduates pursue careers in lake conservation, environmental impact and assessment, endangered species conservation, state park and marine resource protection, sustainable agriculture, air quality, and energy resources or enroll in graduate studies.

EES-Environmental Degree Requirements

Components of the degree (17 courses; 68 credits)

A. Eight Foundation courses in the Natural Sciences
B. Seven Elective courses in environmental science
C. One Social Science course in environmental studies
D. One Statistics course
E. One Capstone course that also counts as one of the seven electives.

C. One course in SOCIAL SCIENCE in environmental studies from the following list:

D. One of the following two courses in STATISTICS

E. Students must select one of the following courses designated as capstones (which will also count in the Elective requirements listed above):

Total Credits for the Environmental Science track: 68


1.  A grade of C- or above must be earned in all science courses and their prerequisites.

2.  Geology courses from the Geology track may not be used to fulfill the General Education requirement in    Natural Sciences.

3.  Geology track majors who also wish to complete the Environmental Science track must complete at least 24 credits of Environmental Science track requirements beyond the courses used to fulfill the Geology track’s requirements.

4.  For Environmental Science track majors declaring a science minor in a science discipline, only eight credits of required coursework in the major can be counted toward the science minor.

5.  Chemistry courses from the Environmental Science track may not be used to fulfill the General Education requirement in Natural Sciences.

6.  Environmental Science track majors who also wish to complete the Geology track must complete at least 24 credits of Geology track requirements beyond the courses used to fulfill the Environmental Science track’s requirements.

World Language Requirement

For specific information about world language requirements and expectations, see the General Education Requirements  in the Academic Programs section of this catalog.

General Education Requirements

For specific information about general education requirements and expectations, see the General Education Requirements  in the Academic Programs section of this catalog.

Minimum Total Credits for The Degree: 128

Learning Goals and Assessment

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate, in common with the other natural sciences, an understanding of the nature of science, especially the interactions between imaginative hypothesis generation and rigorous observation and data collection. Students will design and conduct original scientific research. They will acquire practice in recognizing problems in the earth and environmental sciences, develop testable hypotheses, make systematic observations to detect patterns and to quantify relationships, employ state-of-the-art technology in data collection, critically evaluate their results, draw statistically significant conclusions and communicate them in writing and orally to a variety of audiences, including the public.
  • Appreciate how most EES problems require an integrative approach, and apply tools from chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics to solve them. Students will demonstrate basic knowledge of the history of science, including the major scientific revolutions. They will be able to critically evaluate the work of others, in part acquired through computer-based literature searching, on which their efforts are built
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the interdependent components (solid Earth, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere) and fundamental processes that control earth system behaviors (steady-state, secular trends, cyclical, chaotic), including factors that tend to maintain or drive a system from equilibrium.
  • Monitor the impact of humans on these natural systems, and evaluate scenarios intended to optimize interactions between humanity and its environment;
  • Work collaboratively in teams and interact effectively with the public, business, government and non-profit sectors of society. Exhibit professional behavior and become aware of their ethical responsibility to portray the results of investigations in an unbiased nature.
  • Gain a deeper appreciation of their planet through exploration of the landscape, motivating them to embrace an ethic of environmental stewardship.

Additional EES-Geology Learning Goals:

  • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the major geologic processes including:
    • formation of minerals, rocks, and other earth materials;
    • geochemical cycling (especially the rock, water, and carbon cycles);
    • circulation of the solid earth, oceans, and atmosphere;
    • deformation (plate tectonic to micro-scale);
    • energy flows (internal heat and solar);
    • processes pertinent to stratigraphy and the geologic record; and
    • the origin/evolution of the earth system (tectonic, climatic, and biologic events).
  • Students will be able to document and decipher geologic records through:
    • geologic field methods (e.g., pacing, GPS, hand specimen description, Brunton compass) and
    • laboratory procedures (e.g., petrography; grain size analysis); and
    • techniques for data documentation, manipulation, and display (e.g., GIS, spreadsheets, graphing).

Assessment Criteria:

Assessments include preliminary and final course examinations; abundant written and illustrated summaries of field and laboratory investigations, including modeling studies; review papers; and oral and poster presentations of original research.

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