Climate change results in new environmental geology concentration

Ed DeTomaso

The Department of Geology has added an environmental concentration to their Bachelor of Science program beginning in the fall semester. The program is designed for students who have an interest in a career in the environmental geology field.

Professor Carrie Schweitzer said she sees the program as a reaction to the increased awareness of global environmental issues and climate change. The recent earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan have increased interest in the study.

The Geology Department has always valued environmental science, and this concentration aims to increase awareness of important issues. Department Chairperson Daniel Holm believes that students who graduate with the concentration will be entering a ready work environment.

“We’ve always had an environmental bent to the program but have never certified it until now,” he said.

The Geology Department has experienced increased enrollment and they attribute it in large part to recent world events. Job opportunities in the field are also growing due to the need for people properly accustomed to environmental sciences.

The Environmental Geology Concentration will require additional chemistry and will also include courses relating to rocks, minerals, structural geology, field mapping, geochemistry, landforms and fossils.

The issues of climate change and environmental disaster, both natural and manmade, remains relevant in the public discourse. Debate over whether or not these issues are of immediate concern defies sound, published research.

“Climate change models have historically shown extreme weather patterns,” Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer also pointed to recent weather events, such as wildfires, as pieces of a larger climate change puzzle that partially influenced the new concentration.

The Department of Geology is excited about the idea that graduates can impact the increasingly necessary environmental field of science. Events around the world have become increasingly telling and the one way to improve the problem is with a more educated and informed public.

Professor Joseph Ortiz said he believes the environmental concentration is a timely addition to the program. “It’s a more energetic state and understanding the effects is important,” he said. “It’s important for us to know and significant for us to become better citizens. It’s also consistent with the university’s 21st century philosophy.”

Job opportunities in environmental science only look to increase as a result of increased enrollment and a geology department looking to forward progress in the field.

Contact Ed DeTomaso at [email protected].