Major Description

Department/Program Description

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department (E&ES) at Wesleyan University covers many aspects of the natural world, on Earth and on other planets. Course topics range from active volcanoes to climate change to eco-conservation. The E&ES major is designed to prepare students for graduate school as well as provide a basis for a variety of careers in the private or public sectors. Courses in geology, environmental science/environmental chemistry, environmental science/ecology, and planetary geology lead to different areas of specialization and career options. Many E&ES students work with faculty on research projects that range from climate studies to active volcanoes in the Andes, from the structure of the Grand Canyon to the structure of the planet Venus, from coastal areas nearby (Long Island Sound) to lagoons far away (Vieques Island, Puerto Rico). The culmination of the major is a capstone course where students perform independent research in the field (such as Puerto Rico, Death Valley, or Hawaii).

General Education

Candidates for honors in E&ES are required to complete the University’s General Education Expectations through stage II.

Admission to the Major

Gateway courses for the major

To declare E&ES as a major, students are required to have completed an E&ES gateway course (E&ES101, E&ES115, E&ES197, or E&ES199), and to have completed (or be currently taking) two gateway courses (or higher) in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics.

E&ES101 Dynamic Earth 1
E&ES115 Introduction to Planetary Geology 1
E&ES197 Introduction to Environmental Studies 1
E&ES199 Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability 1

Sophomore Seminar

E&ES195 Sophomore Field Course 0.5

Major Requirements
  • E&ES gateway course (E&ES101, E&ES115, E&ES197, or E&ES199).
  • Earth and environmental scientists need a broad background in the natural sciences. Therefore, E&ES majors are required to take one year (two semesters) of gateway courses from two of the following disciplines for a total of four courses: biology (BIOL181/BIOL182), chemistry (CHEM141/CHEM142 or CHEM143/CHEM144), mathematics (MATH117/MATH118, MATH119/MATH120, or MATH121/MATH122), or physics (PHYS111/PHYS112 or PHYS113/PHYS116). Upper-level courses in these disciplines can be substituted, as can statistics courses for mathematics. Students are urged to complete these introductory courses within their first two years. Students considering professional work in the sciences are encouraged to take gateways in more than two disciplines, including any associated lab courses, as well as upper-level coursework in other natural science and mathematics disciplines.
  • The Sophomore Field Course (E&ES195). This course is typically taken during the spring semester of the sophomore year. 
  • The Senior Seminar (E&ES497). This capstone is typically taken in the senior year.
  • For the Class of 2020 and earlier: Seven upper-level courses, comprised of three "cores" and four "electives." Lab courses associated with the primary courses are required. Up to two upper-level natural science or math courses taken in other departments can count as electives; up to two preapproved courses from study-abroad programs can also count as cores or electives. At least four of the upper-level courses must be Wesleyan E&ES courses. Tutorial and the Senior Thesis do not count towards the requirement.

The E&ES Department does not require completion of Wesleyan's General Education Requirements to complete the major. Honors students are required to complete Wesleyan's General Education Requirements through stage II.

Core Courses

E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES215
E&ES216
Earth Materials
and Earth Materials Laboratory
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES230
E&ES231
Sedimentology
and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Techniques
1.5
E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
BIOL216 Ecology 1

Elective courses

E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES246
E&ES247
Hydrology
and Hydrology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES361 Living in a Polluted World 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES375 Modeling the Earth and Environment 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5

Senior Seminar

E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

For the Class of 2021 and later: Seven upper-level courses. Five of these courses must cover the following thematic areas: two from "Earth and Planets" (numbered 201-233 and 301-333), two from "Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Atmosphere" (numbered 234-266 and 334-366), and one from "Methods" (numbered 267-299 and 367-399). Lab courses associated with the primary courses are required. The remaining two courses may come from any thematic area. Also, the following can be used: up to two upper-level natural science or math courses taken in other departments, and up to two preapproved courses from study-abroad programs. At least four of the upper-level courses must be Wesleyan E&ES courses. Tutorials and the Senior Thesis do not count towards the requirement.

The E&ES Department does not require completion of Wesleyan's General Education Requirements to complete the major. Honors students are required to complete Wesleyan's General Education Requirements through stage II.

Earth and Planet courses

E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES215
E&ES216
Earth Materials
and Earth Materials Laboratory
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES230
E&ES231
Sedimentology
and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Techniques
1.5
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES319
E&ES320
Meteorites and Cosmochemistry
and Meteorites Laboratory
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1

Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Atmosphere courses

E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES238 The Forest Ecosystem 1
E&ES240 Invasive Species: Biology, Policy, and Management 1
E&ES242 Ecological Resilience: The Good, The Bad, and The Mindful 1.25
E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES246
E&ES247
Hydrology
and Hydrology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES361 Living in a Polluted World 1

Method courses

E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES375 Modeling the Earth and Environment 1
E&ES380 Advanced GIS and Spatial Analyses 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5

Career Options and the E&ES major

Earth and environmental sciences majors go on to pursue a wide range of careers, limited only by their own imaginations. E&ES courses can be selected to help prepare for a student’s long-term interests. The course listings below are not requirements, but suggested guidelines. Students interested in academic or research careers should consider involvement in research or producing a senior thesis.

Geology. These courses can help prepare students for academic careers or jobs in industry or government in natural resource or geohazard management (e.g., USGS, water resources, mining and energy industries).

E&ES101 Dynamic Earth 1
E&ES115 Introduction to Planetary Geology 1
E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES230
E&ES231
Sedimentology
and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Techniques
1.5
E&ES246
E&ES247
Hydrology
and Hydrology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Environmental Science/Environmental Chemistry. These courses can help prepare students for jobs in consulting, government, or nonprofit organizations (e.g., EPA, NOAA, USGS, state agencies), or for academic careers in climate science and water resources.

E&ES197 Introduction to Environmental Studies 1
E&ES199 Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability 1
E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5
BIOL216 Ecology 1

Environmental Science/Ecology. These courses can help prepare students for jobs in government, consulting, and nonprofit organizations (e.g., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state conservation agencies, Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society) or academic careers in conservation and natural resource management.

E&ES197 Introduction to Environmental Studies 1
E&ES199 Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability 1
E&ES234
E&ES235
Geobiology
and Geobiology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES244
E&ES245
Soils
and Soils Laboratory
1.5
E&ES250
E&ES251
Environmental Geochemistry
and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
1.5
E&ES260
E&ES261
Oceans and Climate
and Techniques in Ocean and Climate Investigations
1.5
E&ES270 Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences 1
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES359 Global Climate Change 1
E&ES368 Isotope Geochemistry 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Planetary Geology. These courses can help prepare students for jobs in government and industry (e.g., NASA, remote sensing, and GIS contractors) or for academic careers in space science and remote sensing.

E&ES101 Dynamic Earth 1
E&ES115 Introduction to Planetary Geology 1
E&ES213
E&ES214
Mineralogy
and Laboratory Study of Minerals
1.5
E&ES220
E&ES221
Geomorphology
and Geomorphology Laboratory
1.5
E&ES223
E&ES224
Structural Geology
and Field Geology
1.5
E&ES280 Introduction to GIS 1
E&ES313
E&ES314
Petrogenesis of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
and Laboratory Study of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks
1.5
E&ES317
E&ES318
Volcanology
and Volcanology Lab Course
1.5
E&ES321 Planetary Evolution 1
E&ES385
E&ES386
Remote Sensing
and Remote-Sensing Laboratory
1.5
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Capstone Experience
E&ES409 Senior Thesis Tutorial 1
E&ES410 Senior Thesis Tutorial 1
E&ES497 Senior Seminar 1.5

Honors

Candidates for honors in E&ES are required to complete the University's General Education Expectations through stage II.

Related Programs or Certificates
  • The College of the Environment, which includes the environmental studies-linked major and Environmental Studies Certificate, provides a linkage between the sciences, public policy, economics, and the arts and provides a wide variety of career options.
  • The Planetary Science Group and the Planetary Science Course Cluster seek to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system in which we live and the other solar systems that we have identified in our galaxy.
  • The Service-Learning Center and Service-Learning Course Cluster seek to broaden students’ understanding of course content through activities that are, at the same time, of service to the community.