Introduction

Earth scientists study how we, as a society, affect — and are affected by — the planet we live on. Complex environmental problems that influence all segments of society, such as demands on diminishing natural resources and climate change, require the ingenuity of investigators with a broad variety of backgrounds. The Earth Sciences major spans and integrates the five major Earth systems: the atmosphere, the oceans, the soils, the organisms and the solid earth both past and present. 

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

  • ERSC 151, Foundations of Earth Sciences
  • ERSC 141, Earth's Hazards or ERSC 142, Earth's Changing Climate

For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Earth Sciences.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Introductory courses that fulfill the Laboratory Science (Division III) distribution requirement or the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) requirement include:

  • ERSC 121, Habitable World's 
  • ERSC 141, Earth's Hazards
  • ERSC 142, Earth's Changing Climate
  • ERSC 151, Foundations of Earth Sciences

In addition most of our courses fulfill a variety of sustainability (SINV and SINE) requirements. 

Suggested curricular flow through the major

The ERSC major was designed with the requisite flexibility to enable our students to study abroad for either a semester or a full academic year. As a result, we developed the curriculum so that the student who did spend a year abroad could complete all the requirements for the major, as long as they followed a few guidelines.

For Incoming Students Planning to Pursue Earth Sciences as a Major

Year Fall Spring
First Year
  • First Year Seminar
  • ERSC 151
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC 141 or 142
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC Elective
Sophomore
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
Junior
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ½ Credit Capstone Research
Senior
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • Elective
  • ½ Credit Capstone Research
  • ERSC Elective
  • Optional Honors Research
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • Elective

 

For Students Beginning the Earth Sciences Major their Sophomore Year

Year Fall Spring
Sophomore
  • ERSC 141 or 142
  • ERSC 151
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC Elective
Junior
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement
  • ½ Credit Capstone Research
Senior
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • ½ Credit Capstone Research
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • Optional Honors Research
  • College Distribution Requirement

For Students Beginning the Earth Sciences Major their Junior Year

Year Fall Spring
Junior
  • ERSC 151
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • ERSC 141 or 142
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • ½ Credit Capstone Research
Senior
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • ½ Credit Capstone Research
  • ERSC 302, 305, 309, 331 or 333/335
  • CHEM, MATH, PHYS, and/or GIS*
  • ERSC Elective
  • College Distribution Requirement

* ERSC 218 (Geographic Information Systems) is difficult to get into. Therefore you should try to preregister for this class as soon as you can, and keep trying until you get in.

For information regarding the suggested guidelines, please feel free to contact an ERSC faculty member. Students not following these guidelines may still be able to study for a year abroad and still complete the major, but will face a more demanding senior year. Many students who do study abroad for a year are able to complete both the ERSC major and a second major in Archaeology or Environmental Science due to the overlap in these programs of study.

Honors

An Independent Research project may be considered for departmental honors if it demonstrates superior quality of work. Your advisor can nominate you for Honors at the end of the fall semester of your senior year based on your capstone research project. To be considered for Honors, you must have a cumulative GPA across the College of 3.5. Only students doing independent research for capstone can be considered for Honors (i.e., either ERSC 550 or 560). The faculty other than the thesis supervisor will decide if you are worthy of Honors. You can do more independent research in the spring of your senior year up to 2.0 credits of capstone independent research (i.e., 0.5 in JR spring, 0.5-1.0 in SR fall, and 0.5-1.0 additional credit in the SR spring should the student elect to continue). Thus you can take a maximum of 1 credit of independent research per semester in your senior year. Regardless if your research continues into the spring of your senior year, the Honors decision is based on your GPA and thesis at the end of the fall semester of your senior year.

A first draft of the paper should be turned in to your advisor four weeks before the end of classes to allow revisions so that a final draft will be ready for delivery to the research advisor and the other faculty by the last day of classes. Final revisions to the written thesis are made based on the comments of the readers. The oral defense will be scheduled for the spring semester of your senior year. Defenses are open to other majors, interested friends, faculty, and other guests. After the defense, the faculty (without the research advisor) will vote in private, based on careful consideration of the quality of the paper and defense, and of the academic maturity of the student during the project year. Students who successfully complete the defense will be named in the Commencement Program as having achieved honors.

All the previous student theses are bound and shelved in the department reading room/library (K128). Those that received honors have the designation “h” after the year (e.g., 1957h) on the spine.

Independent study and independent research

Most of our majors do an Independent Study or Research project during their junior or senior year. Students may ask any faculty member in the department to supervise a project. Ideally, you should try to contact the faculty member during the previous semester to make arrangements for advisement. Seniors are required to complete one of three capstone experiences: independent research completion of a pre-approved field camp, or a semester of student teaching (education track only).

Internships

Several have been done in the department. Although specific arrangements would need to be made, it is possible to arrange internships with state and federal geologic agencies in Harrisburg. Students have also done internships with local consulting companies. See any member of the department faculty for possible arrangements. 

Co-curricular activities/programs

The Geology Club is a student-run group that organizes field trips and arranges for speakers during the year. Any Dickinson student may join the group, and it is common for some non-majors to belong. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/DickinsonGeoClub/

Each semester the department sponsors a variety of field trips for majors and those taking intro earth sciences courses. 

Check out previous trips at:

http://www.dickinson.edu/info/20107/earth_sciences/1809/field_experiences

 

Opportunities for off-campus study

To be an effective Earth Scientist, it benefits you to have seen as much of the planet as possible.  This helps you appreciate the atmospheric, hydrospheric, biospheric, and geospheric diversity of our planet.  With proper advance planning and declaring your major early, you can take some interesting courses abroad and see more of the world

Additional Remarks

To learn more about our Earth Sciences departmental offerings, check out the links below: