The earth sciences span and integrate the five major Earth systems: the atmosphere, oceans, soils, organisms and solid earth both past and present. The earth sciences curriculum at Dickinson provides students with experiences that foster critical thinking about these systems, so that students make connections among the systems and can understand how they impact humans now and in the future.

We do this in a variety of ways, like providing opportunities for deeper understanding through lecture and discussion, experimental and analytical laboratory work, fieldwork and independent study and research. We prepare students for the challenges of providing mineral, energy and water resources sustainably; mitigating environmental pollution and hazards; and informing the public about the challenges ahead through teaching, research and community engagement.

"It could forcefully be argued that geology and the broader fields of the earth sciences are the most important sciences for the 21st century, because humanity has only this one planet as a home, and if we render it unsuitable for human habitation we are all in serious trouble." —Alvarez & Leitao, Geology 38, 231-234, 2010

The earth sciences department is one of the most globally integrated departments at Dickinson with 100 percent of our faculty having published with international collaborators and 80 percent having field areas outside of the U.S. The earth sciences curriculum and faculty expertise cover a broad range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary topics from structural geology to global climate change; from paleontology to energy resources; and from Earth materials to natural hazards taught in a research- and project-based environment using research-grade analytical instrumentation.

Each course has a field component utilizing the diversity of the local and regional geology. A field trip endowment allows students to learn farther afield. Recent destinations have included Southern California, New Mexico, Sicily, the UK, Iceland and the island of Montserrat. 

Contact Info


Benjamin EdwardsProfessor of Earth Sciences; Walter E. Beach Chair in Sustainability Studies

Department coordinator

Deb Peters





Social Media


103, Kaufman Building Mailing Address

Department Features

Student Outcomes

Where Our Students Go From Here


  • Mastery Charter School
  • Rodale Institute
  • Arid Lands Institute
  • Matrix New World Engineering, Inc
  • Dickinson College
  • Christchurch School
  • Global Indemnity Group
  • National Academy of Sciences

Grad schools

  • University of Wyoming
  • Clemson University
  • Syracuse University
  • Dartmouth College
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Arizona
  • Northeastern University
  • South Dakota School of Mines
  • University of Ottawa
  • Rutgers University
Where Our Students Have Interned
  • Dickinson College / Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM)
  • Dickinson College / Center for Sustainability Education
  • Dickinson College Department of Earth Sciences
  • Global Change Institute, University of Queensland
  • Little Red Hen CSA
  • Middlesex County Utilities Authority
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • University of Arizona Department of Geosciences
  • Women for a Healthy Environment

Student Perspective

“My third research experience was in the Canadian high Arctic during summer 2018 with the Arctic and Alpine Climate Change Research Experience (AACCRE) program. We went to Alexandra Fiord to do field research on retreating glaciers, water and soil chemistry, bedrock geology and landscape evolution. This was a rewarding experience, because it gave me a taste of performing physically and intellectually demanding fieldwork in a remote and dynamic part of the world.”

—Allison Curley ’19

Earth Science News

Student Snapshot: Christian Knight ’23

Student Snapshot: Christian Knight ’23

"Within my first year at Dickinson, my world had completely opened up," says Christian Knight '23, an earth sciences major exploring GIS, creative writing and science at Dickinson.

Finding Renewable Energy Solutions

Finding Renewable Energy Solutions

Former geology major Alexandra-Selene Jarvis ’10 strives to solve the world’s environmental challenges as she researches options for renewable energy storage and recovery.

Dickinson Research Leads to Historic Cemetery Receiving Solar

Dickinson Research Leads to Historic Cemetery Receiving Solar 'Tombstones'

Student-faculty research three years in the making leads to illuminating markers at Civil War historic site.

Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild

Dickinson’s distinctive Arctic program marks a major milestone thanks to permanent funding provided by alumni.

Polar Geologist to Discuss Climate Change in Dickinson College Livestream Event

Polar Geologist to Discuss Climate Change in Dickinson College Livestream Event

Northwestern University Professor Yarrow Axford will discuss climate change in arctic and alpine environments.

Dickinson College

Dickinson College's Arctic Studies Program Celebrates Milestone

"We're absolutely ahead of the game in this." Learn what's new in Dickinson's distinctive Arctic-studies program.