2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jul 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived]

Earth and Environmental Systems

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Chairperson: Dr. Jennifer Latimer
Department Office: Science Building, room 159
Web Site: http://www.indstate.edu/cas/ees
E-mail: jen.latimer@indstate.edu

The Department of Earth and Environmental Systems provides students with the opportunity to explore a wide range of studies involving environmental, earth, and human systems. Anthropologists, geographers, and geoscientists investigate fundamental questions that relate directly to the mechanics of the Earth’s physical processes, the spatial organization of societies, the study of human diversity, and the interaction between people and their environment. The Department offers degree programs in anthropology, geography and sustainability, geology, and environmental geoscience. Innovative minor programs that draw on the department’s interdisciplinary nature are also offered including anthropology, climatology, earth science, environmental science, geochemistry, geography, geographic information science, geology, and sustainability.   The Department emphasizes experiential learning and facilitates student engagement in research.

In addition, the Department contributes to the secondary education programs in science education (Earth Space Science Concentration) and social studies (Geography Concentration) education. The Department also collaborates with and/or offers courses in multidisciplinary studies, international studies, technology, and Foundational Studies.



Degrees Offered

As a unit within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Earth and Environmental Systems offers a curriculum that leads to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Students majoring in anthropology, geography and sustainability or geology earn a Bachelor of Science degree.  Environmental geoscience earns a Bachelor of Arts degree.  Candidates for these degrees must complete the University requirement of a minimum of 120 credits, including Foundational Studies course work, as well as the requirements for the departmental majors. 

Description of Degrees

Anthropology Bachelor of Science: Anthropology is the study of the human experience in past and present contexts. Course work emphasizes archaeology, human biology, and cultural diversity as well as allied subjects in other disciplines. Students will gain methodological and practical training through hands-on laboratory and field experiences. Training includes archaeological and ethnographic field methods, life history analysis, lab and field based forensic methods for human remains, and geospatial techniques such as photogrammetry, 3D modeling and reconstruction, and digital mapping and GIS analysis. This program prepares students for a wide range of careers in museums, cultural resource management (archaeology), forensic crime labs, human resources, international corporations, and state and federal agencies among others.  An anthropology major provides a strong foundation for post-graduate opportunities in public health, medicine, law, and other advanced academic degrees.  


Geography and Sustainability Bachelor of Science: Geography is a very broad field that encompasses both natural and social sciences.  Physical geographers focus on such studies including landforms, glaciers, biological, hydrological and natural hazards phenomena and how they influence humans.  Human geographers investigate human cultures and their political and economic structures.  Human and physical geography combined allows for human-environment interactions investigations to better inform current and future planning needs for environmental sustainability (sustainability science).  Technology training that includes geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, geovisualization, and Global Positioning System (GPS) is used to help prepare students to make informed decisions at local through global scales of analysis.  Study Abroad experiences, Internships, and class projects involving community engagement help our students learn academic as well as public relations skills. Graduates of our program have gone on to secure employment as geospatial information officers, energy and sustainability support specialists, campus sustainability assistants, conservation workers, urban planners/developers, market location researchers, computer mapping specialists, land use/environmental protection planners, and masters programs in related fields. 

 Geology Bachelor of Science: The study of geology addresses a broad range of topics that include Earth’s history, composition, subsurface and surface processes, and evolution of life and is integral to solving such global problems as climate change, environmental pollution, depletion of energy resources, predication of earthquakes, groundwater and surface water protection, flooding and volcanic hazards, and discovery of critical mineral and natural resources.  The geology program consists of a set of core courses that establish basic geoscience principles along with related science courses in math, chemistry, and physics.  Students may select their elective courses in the geosciences or related sciences to design a curriculum relevant to their interests. Many of the geology courses have field trips and a laboratory component that emphasizes hands-on, practical problem-solving approaches to learning.  A summer field course, usually taken between the junior and senior years, is part of the core and is key to preparing students for a transition from academic studies to professional employment. Most of the geology classes have small enrollments allowing students to receive individual attention and close interaction with faculty in the classroom.  Students desiring to do graduate work or to become a professional geoscientist will ordinarily pursue the Bachelor of Science degree.

Environmental Geoscience Bachelor of Arts:  The purpose of the Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Geoscience is to provide students with scientific and communication skills and knowledge necessary to understand the inter-relationships between people, living organisms, and the surface environment.  The degree embraces all the disciplines of geoscience to provide a rigorous interdisciplinary education including issues associated with environmental policy.  This comprehensive array of knowledge provides students with a unique set of tools suitable for building analytical skills, problem-solving techniques, and critical thinking skills necessary for professional careers in industry, environmental and engineering consulting firms, governmental regulatory agencies, or for graduate school. Upon completion of the Environmental Geoscience Program, students’ lives will be enriched through a greater understanding and appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of the geosciences.

Departmental Opportunities

The Department offers many opportunities for undergraduates to participate in field and laboratory work as part of ongoing faculty research projects around the world in the geosciences, environmental sciences, geography, and anthropology. The Department houses numerous modern laboratories that provide students with access to state-of-the-art equipment and important opportunities to gain the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace, complete a professional degree, or pursue graduate studies. Scholarships to support undergraduate studies are also available.

Students are encouraged to participate in the Department’s many extra-curricular events and organizations. To supplement the classroom experience, the Department regularly hosts research colloquia and other special events. Students majoring in departmental programs are active in the Environmental Science Club, which is engaged in a range of service, social, and professional activities.

Finally, our department also offers new Accelerated Master’s options in both Earth and Quaternary Sciences and Geography and Sustainability, which allow high-performing ISU undergraduates the option of earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in a total of five years



Students should be thoroughly familiar with the requirements of the teaching curriculum and admission to the Teacher Education Program for the science education (Earth Space Science Concentration) and social studies (Geography Concentration) education programs.  Refer to the Bayh College of Education and the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Media Technology sections in this Catalog.


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