This information is part of the Colgate University catalog, 2023-24.
|Professors Harpp, Leventer, Peck (Chair)
Associate Professors Adams, Levy, Wong
Assistant Professors Harnik
Senior Lecturers Keller, Koleszar
The Earth and environmental geosciences explore Earth's natural systems: its rocky surface and interior, the oceans and rivers of the hydrosphere, the icy cryosphere, the climate and the atmosphere, and the co-evolution of the biosphere and the planet. The field of geoscience is a multi-disciplinary effort aimed at understanding the physical and chemical nature of the Earth, the evolution and impact of life on our planet, and how global processes operate now, in the past, and in the future. The discipline combines the scientific study of Earth materials, such as minerals, rocks, and fossils, and planet-scale processes uncovered through Earth-observing data derived from satellites, geophysical instruments, and models. An important focus of the field is how past and present-day ecosystems and environments have been and continue to be shaped by plate tectonics, volcanism, mountain building, climate change, evolution, and human activity through time.
Introductory courses are designed to contribute significantly to a liberal arts education and an understanding of Earth and the environment. Advanced courses are more specialized and provide the highest possible level of general and pre-professional training for majors.
Students in the department of Earth and Environmental Geosciences pursue a Geology or Environmental Geology concentration that prepares students to pursue careers in the geological and environmental sciences, business, and education, as well as government and public service. Upon graduation, many majors attend graduate school in geology, hydrology, oceanography, environmental sciences, and environmental policy and law. Other graduates go directly into a wide spectrum of employment situations, including business, environmental consulting, teaching, administration in schools and museums, and mineral resources and petroleum-related jobs.
Students interested in pursuing graduate school in the geosciences should note that some graduate schools expect applicants to have supplemented their undergraduate geology courses with introductory calculus, chemistry, and physics or biology. The Earth and Environmental Geosciences department encourages all majors to take these courses; they are required for honors in geology.
The Department of Educational Studies offers a teacher education program for Geology or Environmental Geology majors who are interested in careers in elementary or secondary school teaching. Please refer to Educational Studies .
The Award for Excellence in Geoscience — awarded annually by the department to the student who best demonstrates a combination of excellence in the classroom and creativity and perseverance in research.
The Robert M. Linsley Prize for Excellence in Geology — awarded mid-way through the junior year to a rising senior who has demonstrated the promise and potential for leadership and excellence in earth science scholarship and research. The prize is to be given by consensus of the geology department faculty to a student who plans to pursue earth sciences as a career, with preference given to a student with an interest in paleontology, historical geology, and stratigraphy/sedimentation. In selecting the awardee, emphasis is to be placed on a balance of leadership, research, and communication/teaching interests, in Bob's spirit.
The Norma Vergo Prize in Geology — established as an award to a geology major who, as determined by the faculty of the geology department, significantly contributes to the spirit of excellence among fellow students in the department.
The Kevin Williams '10 Endowed Memorial Fellowship Award — established in 2012 in memory of Kevin Williams '10 to provide stipend support for one or more geology and/or geography majors to study abroad.
The department does not award Advanced Placement credit. Placement appropriate to academic development of a student may be granted to incoming first year students who have achieved a score on an international exam (e.g., A–Levels, International Baccalaureate) that indicates a level of competence equivalent to the completion of a specific course in the department. Requests should be directed to the department chair.
The department allows two courses to be transferred for credit toward the major and one course towards the minor, with prior approval of the courses by the department.
All geology and environmental geology majors are encouraged to consider the advantages and challenges of undertaking honors in geology. A GPA of 3.20 or higher in the five core courses (GEOL 190 , GEOL 201 , GEOL 215 , GEOL 225 , and GEOL 235 ), plus the two required 400-level courses are required for a student to become eligible for honors. In addition, at least six full-credit courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics must be taken to become eligible for honors. GEOG 245 can be taken in place of one of these six courses.
Honors candidates must also complete a year-long senior thesis, which represents the culmination of a research project that typically begins during the summer before the senior year and continues during the fall and spring terms of the senior year. The written thesis must be completed and orally presented by the end of the spring semester. Following the defense, and with the recommendation of the thesis committee, the Earth and Environmental Geosciences faculty will vote to award honors. Awarding the distinction of honors is based primarily on the quality of the written thesis but will also include an overall assessment of the student's academic record. Students who may be eligible for honors will be notified in the spring of the junior year by their academic adviser.
- Environmental Geology Major
- Astrogeophysics Major
- Natural Sciences, Topical Concentration: Marine Science - Freshwater Science Major
Topical Concentration: Marine — Freshwater Science is offered with the cooperation of the biology department through the Division of Natural Sciences. This major is intended for students who are interested in aquatic sciences and who wish to major in both biology and geology while preparing for certain teaching, museum, and technical positions, and for selected graduate studies programs.
The department offers two summer field courses. GEOL 120 The Geology of America's Parks (Extended Study) is designed for introductory level students and includes a two- to three-week field component. GEOL 320 - Techniques of Field Geology is designed for junior and senior majors; occasionally sophomores with strong geoscience preparation participate also. The course lasts for five weeks and examines classic geologic areas in such locations as Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and the northeastern United States. The course is shown as a summer course on the student's transcript. Contact the department chair for further information.
See Off-Campus Study for information on off-campus programs in Australia, the United Kingdom (Wales or Manchester) and more.
Majors and Minors
- GEOL 101L - Environmental Geology Lab
- GEOL 101 - Environmental Geology
- GEOL 102 - Sustainable Earth
- GEOL 105 - Megageology
- GEOL 115 - Evolution: Dinosaurs to Darwin
- GEOL 120 - The Geology of America's Parks (Extended Study)
- GEOL 135 - Oceanography and the Environment
- GEOL 190L - Evolution of Planet Earth Lab
- GEOL 190 - Evolution of Planet Earth
- GEOL 201L - Mineralogy and Geochemistry Lab
- GEOL 201 - Mineralogy and Geochemistry
- GEOL 215L - Paleontology of Marine Life Lab
- GEOL 215 - Paleontology of Marine Life
- GEOL 225L - Sedimentology and Surficial Processes Lab
- GEOL 225 - Sedimentology and Surficial Processes
- GEOL 235L - Tectonics and Earth Structure Lab
- GEOL 235 - Tectonics and Earth Structure
- GEOL 253L - Environmental Geochemistry and Analysis Lab
- GEOL 253 - Environmental Geochemistry and Analysis
- GEOL 291 - Independent Study
- GEOL 301L - Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Lab
- GEOL 301 - Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
- GEOL 303 - Geochemistry
- GEOL 310 - Environmental Economic Geology
- GEOL 311 - Environmental Geophysics
- GEOL 315 - Conservation Paleobiology
- GEOL 320 - Techniques of Field Geology
- GEOL 335L - Hydrology and Geomorphology Lab
- GEOL 335 - Hydrology and Geomorphology
- GEOL 360L - Volcanology Lab
- GEOL 360 - Volcanology
- GEOL 370 - Geoinformatics
- GEOL 391 - Independent Study
- GEOL 411 - Isotopes in the Earth Sciences
- GEOL 416 - Marine Geology
- GEOL 420 - Solid Earth Processes
- GEOL 441 - Senior Research Seminar
- GEOL 450 - Paleoclimatology
- GEOL 480 - Advanced Topics
- GEOL 491 - Independent Study