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Geoscience

Overview

Geoscience is the study of the physical components of the environment (rocks, minerals, soil, water, and air), the various processes affected by those components, and the interactions between the physical environment and living organisms. In addition to providing a solid foundation of geoscience principles, the program places special emphasis on environmental geology, groundwater management, soils, and other earth system processes.

The Geoscience program takes an application-focused, interdisciplinary approach, known as earth system science, in which the physical environment is investigated as many interacting systems. Earth system science is an emerging field that emphasizes the interactions between the different systems that make up the earth. Although earth system science is considered a new approach at many institutions, it has been an integral part of the Geoscience program since the very founding of UW-Green Bay. Students interested in available course offerings should also see the course listings for Environmental Science where several courses on soils, ground water and environmental geology are offered. In addition, a number of courses are offered as GEOSCI 492 Special Topics in Earth Science.

Career opportunities for geoscientists are varied. Environmental concerns have spurred demand for geoscientists in government agencies, consulting firms, and private industry. There is also strong demand for technically proficient geoscientists who are also skilled communicators able to bridge the gap between science and the public.

Majors in Geoscience may enter their careers upon graduation or may choose to pursue graduate study in geology, geophysics, soil science, environmental science, meteorology, climatology, hydrology, or oceanography. Those intending to pursue graduate study are advised to complement requirements for the major with courses in physics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, and computer science. Students anticipating graduate study are strongly recommended to enroll in one of the summer field camps offered by many institutions.

The Geoscience major may also be used in combination with another area of study. Students interested in planning, natural resource or land management, or environmental policy issues typically select interdisciplinary minors in Environmental Science, Public and Environmental Affairs, or Urban and Regional Studies. For those interested in an earth system science perspective in business, Geoscience may be combined with Business Administration. Design Arts is an option for Geoscience students interested in print or electronic journalism (broadcast meteorology, for example).

Supporting communication skills are essential for geoscience. Geoscientists must be able to communicate with people in other fields, many of whom lack scientific training. Knowledge of foreign languages, history, and other cultures provides access to foreign technical literature and facilitates working in other regions of the world. Technical skills gained through courses in air photo interpretation, remote sensing, and computer science are invaluable for the geoscientist.

Geoscience education is a growing career field. Many states and localities now require geoscience in their curricula, and many high schools offer geoscience courses in addition to the traditional science courses of biology, chemistry and physics. Geoscience education includes not just geology but weather and climate, astronomy, and often oceanography.

Students seeking teacher certification can pursue several options:

  • They can pursue a broad-field science certification in Education and take Geoscience courses to match their interests and employment goals.
  • Students interested in elementary and middle school teaching can take an Education major and Geoscience minor.
  • Students interested in teaching at the secondary level can take a Geoscience major and Education minor.

All Education students should consult with advisers in Geoscience and Education early in their studies to make sure that their academic program meets all state requirements for certification. Careful planning is essential since the Education course requirements are substantial and state requirements change periodically. Students seeking teacher certification in Geoscience should seriously consider satisfying the certification requirements in another discipline as well, because certification in additional fields will increase their employment opportunities.