Earth scientists study the planet as a system of interacting spheres: the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and soil and rock sphere. Together, these components create the physical environment that we inhabit, govern the abundance and distribution of natural resources, and determine the nature and severity of environmental hazards. Another distinguishing characteristic of Earth Science is the study of deep time and the evolution of life. Using relics of the past such as fossils and ice cores, we decipher Earth’s history over the last 4.5 billion years.
To introduce students to the discipline, we offer a number of 100-level courses in oceanography, environmental geology, geohazards, environmental justice, and Earth history. Intermediate level work includes the study of rocks, minerals, and soils; processes of mountain building and landscape evolution; biogeochemistry; paleontology; volcanology; and geophysics. Advanced courses cover climate change, tsunamis, computer modeling of Earth processes, energy resources, and local environmental problems. All courses include substantial field experiences that serve both to introduce students to the local environment and to teach the analytical techniques used by the discipline.
The strong training in writing and quantitative and analytical skills acquired by Vassar Earth Science students prepares them for a wide range of careers. Our majors have gone on to become academic researchers, primary and secondary school teachers, naturalists for the National Park Service, environmental and geotechnical consultants, green architects, outdoor educators and guides, environmental lawyers, and facilities managers. Some of our students have even gone on to medical school.
Courses and Requirements
Academic requirements and courses are available in the Vassar College Catalogue.