Environmental Earth Science


Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science | College of Arts and Science

What is Environmental Earth Science?

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and life sciences (including physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, soil science, geology, and geography) to the study of the environment and environmental systems and to the solution of environmental problems. Earth science is an all-encompassing term for the science related to the planet Earth, including the study of the solid earth (lithosphere), the atmosphere, the hydrosphere (including the oceans), and the biosphere. This major blends these academic fields into a coherent interdisciplinary program applying geoscience skills and knowledge to environmental issues, problems, and solutions. This initiative complements other initiatives with the College of Arts and Science to expand environmental programs and offerings and interdisciplinary pursuits. Fundamentally, this is an Earth Science major but with a more interdisciplinary approach.

Environmental earth scientists are trained to work in a variety of areas crossing numerous disciplines. With concerns about shortages and conservation of natural resources, environmental pollution, and global climate change in today's society, many environmental earth scientists are involved in developing alternative energy systems, investigating, mitigating and controlling pollution solving problems associated with waste disposal, promoting sustainable urban development, and understanding the causes and effects of global climate change. Environmental earth scientists study the human influence upon the earth and provide basic information needed to solve problems and establish rational policies for resource management, environmental protection, and public health safety and welfare.

What are the features of Miami’s program?

Integration of teaching and research

The faculty in the Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science is an extremely active group of earth and environmental scientists and educators. Our faculty teach courses at all levels of the curriculum, which means that students interact with active scholars in virtually all geology courses. All faculty members and graduate students are working on research projects, many of which regularly involve undergraduate students. These independent study research opportunities are often the most rewarding aspects of an undergraduate's career because they provide hands-on experience applying principles and concepts learned in coursework to outstanding questions in the earth and geological sciences.

The National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, the Miami University Summer Scholars Program, the Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, and the Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science all provide funding that allows undergraduates to undertake independent research during the summer and school year. Many students publish their work in leading journals and participate in conference presentations.

Field-based learning opportunities

The Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science sponsors several three- to five-week domestic and international field courses run annually during the summer. Shorter field courses (7 to 10 days) are often taught over the winter and spring break periods, affording undergraduate and graduate students ample opportunity to participate. Many of the upper-level earth and environmental science courses contain field components that take advantage of key aspects of the local and regional setting via multi-hour to multi-day field projects. The Environmental Earth Science major could also lead to the summer field geology course offered annually at the department's field station in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, next to one of the nation's most unspoiled and rugged wilderness areas.

Top-notch facilities

The Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science houses modern research and teaching laboratories and field equipment for the investigation of a variety of earth materials and processes. These facilities support material preparation and state-of-the-art instrumental analysis focusing in the areas of isotope and elemental geochemistry, mineral surface geochemistry, crystallography, geomicrobiology, hydrogeology, environmental geochemistry, and geophysics. This instrumentation is further supported by a modern departmental computer laboratory and numerous specialized high-end computer facilities.

What are the special admission requirements, if any?

There are no additional admission requirements for this program.

What courses would I take?

The Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree in Environmental Earth Science is designed for those students who are interested in the geosciences and applying their geosciences pursuits to environmental issues, problems, and solutions. This degree offering reflects the fact that most of our faculty are involved in environmental research and study. The degree includes a core of introductory geosciences, environmental science, hydrogeology and geomorphology, or sedimentology/stratigraphy. Required electives include a wide array of our upper-level courses that address environmental themes, teach tools of environmental science, or are otherwise cross-disciplinary by nature. By petition, some elective requirements may be fulfilled by courses in other natural sciences or Geography. This degree also requires courses in mathematics/statistics, chemistry, physics, and the life sciences.

What can I do with this major?

Environmental earth scientists are typically employed in environmental consulting and planning firms, energy and mineral resource companies, or government agencies, such as the National Park Service, environmental protection agencies, and health departments. They are also employed in schools and universities, a wide array of both small and large corporations, legal practices, non-profit organizations, and even the news media. Because environmental earth scientists are continually urged to recognize and address the world around them, they acquire and hone skills that are highly valued in many disciplines.

About 50 percent of our graduates obtain immediate employment in earth science disciplines. A bachelor's degree can provide the background to obtain support or assistant positions as a geologist in government agencies or consulting companies as well as the laboratory or field programs of mining and petroleum corporations and state or national geological surveys.

In recent years, about 30 percent of our graduates have furthered their education in graduate programs. A master's degree, which is the terminal degree of most practicing earth, environmental, and geoscientists, provides a wide opportunity for professional achievement and advancement. A Ph.D. in Geology, Earth Science, or Environmental Science can lead to an academic career of teaching and research. Environmental Earth Science majors may continue in the sciences after obtaining their undergraduate degree, but they may also go into law, business, or education. Environmental law, environmental policy, and earth science education have become increasingly active areas in recent years, and the A.B. in Environmental Earth Science is an ideal path to these opportunities.

Who can I contact for more information?

Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science
118 Shideler Hall
Oxford, OH 45056